Schools fail to teach children to swim

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of primary schools are breaking the law by failing to teach their children how to swim.

Hundreds of primary schools are breaking the law by failing to teach their children how to swim.

A survey published yesterday shows that one in every 20 primaries is failing to teach swimming during school time, as legally required. One in nine fails to teach more than half of their children to swim 25 metres unaided, the national curriculum target. The survey of 769 schools also revealed that almost half were asking parents to pay towards the cost of swimming lessons.

Headteachers and sports experts claimed that the findings showed sport was being squeezed out to make way for literacy and numeracy hours. Most children meet the 25-metre target, but the survey found some schools only offered swimming for one year and only a few pupils go in the pool for one hour a week throughout their primary school years.

The poll, carried out by the Times Educational Supplement and the Central Council for Physical Recreation, (CCPR) found that on average, children aged five to seven got just 11 minutes of school swimming a week, while those aged eight to eleven received 25 minutes each week.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "What the Government needs to do is to address the root cause of the damage done to school swimming.

"It must consider how we can broaden the curriculum to deliver PE [physical education], sport and creative arts, which have been squeezed out by the literacy and numeracy strategies."

A spokesman for the CCPR said: "The end-of-year report on school swimming makes depressing reading. All four million children in primary schools should be taught to swim. These skills can save children's lives."

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