Swimming and Water Safety

Swim floats

Swimming and Water Safety

Cambridgeshire County Council regards swimming as a priority because learning about water safety and knowing how to keep yourself safe in and around water is a life-skill and as such, should be recognised and measured in the same ways as other key subjects.

One in three primary school leavers can't swim, report warns, amid rise in drownings

One in three primary school leavers cannot swim one length of a pool, a report has found, amid concern that a lack of lessons is leading to rise in young people drowning.

At present swimming lessons are not offered at one in 20 primary schools across the UK, leaving thousands of parents to fork out for private classes. 

Of the remaining primaries swimming provision is so poor that only a third of schools (36 per cent) are providing effective lessons that reach all three national curriculum standards.

The study also reveals that despite swimming and water safety being part of the national curriculum for over 20 years, two-thirds (63 per cent) of parents with year six children fear that their child could not save themselves in water. 

Official data shows forty people aged 19 and under drowned in the UK last year, representing an increase of 25 per cent from 2015

Swimming in the National Curriculum

All primary schools must provide swimming instruction either in key stage 1 or key stage 2.

In particular, pupils should be taught to:

  • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
  • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations

There is a requirement that schools publish swimming attainment levels online alongside the information reporting about the PE and Sport Premium investment..

The new condition is part of updated guidance from the Department for Education regarding PE and sport premium funding.

Schools are required to publish how many Year 6 pupils have met the national curriculum requirements relating to swimming and water safety.


ASA School Swimming Guidelines 2015469KBpdf
NGB guidance for primary school swimming provision
Size: 469KBFile format: pdf
Qualifications and Training to teach swimming (002)102KBpdf
Canbridgeshire County Council Advice about good practice regarding competence to teach swimming in schools
Size: 102KBFile format: pdf