'Top up' swimming lessons announced

Primary school pupils who are unable to swim by the age of 11 will be given additional swimming lessons under a new scheme launched by the government.

Swimming lessons are already compulsory for primary school children in England, with 83% of pupils able to swim competently by the age of 11.

However, intensive swimming lessons will now be introduced for children who are unable to swim the 25 metres required by the end of Key Stage 2.

The £5.5 million 'top up' scheme, which will be run in partnership with the Amateur Swimming Association, will see pupils attend local pools every day for an intensive series of daily swimming lessons over two weeks during the school term.

The scheme will run over the next two years and is a key part of the government's school sport strategy which aims to raise participation in physical education and school sport.

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: "Every child should learn to swim. It is an essential skill and is a fun way to exercise. We want to give as many pupils as possible confidence in the water, and the potential to enjoy a whole range of other watersports and activities."

The scheme will build on the trials of intensive swimming lessons involving over 800 children in Bristol and County Durham last year which the government said showed a marked increase in the numbers of children being able to swim.

Overall, 57% of the pupils who had previously not reached the standard achieved this by the end of the scheme.

School sport partnerships, where groups of schools work together to increase sports participation, are working with the Amateur Swimming Association to organise the top up lessons.

David Sparkes, Chief Executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, said: "The Amateur Swimming Association is committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn to swim. Trials have already proven that with extra lessons and smaller group numbers more children are able to meet the minimum 25 metre requirement, and with the support of our regional coordinators we will be able to help many more children reach that target."


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