Safety fears save school swimming
Monday 29 June 1998
Ministers are believed to have taken the decision to preserve swimming after warnings that more children will drown unless a legal requirement remains in force.
New curriculum guidance to be announced this week is expected to allow schools to decide for themselves which other activities they teach during PE lessons, though they will be advised to continue with at least some games and athletics.
The decision is in sharp contrast to that taken by Peter Hain, the Welsh education minister, last week. He announced that running, throwing and jumping as well as swimming would be compulsory to protect children against heart disease.
Earlier this year, David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, decided that, from September, legal requirements for the primary curriculum would be reduced so that schools could spend more time on literacy and numeracy. Detailed programmes, he said, would be compulsory only in maths, science and English. In the remaining six subjects, including PE, teachers would be free to choose what they taught.
Critics accused him of narrowing the curriculum and threatening the future of subjects such as music, art and PE. He pointed out that schools would still be legally obliged to teach all these subjects. At present, swimming is one of six skills taught in PE. The others are games, gym, dance, athletics and outdoor and adventure activities.
Ministers decided to make an exception of swimming after a campaign by the Amateur Swimming Association and the English Schools Swimming Association who argued that many schools were facing real difficulties in organising swimming lessons in times of financial hardship: if the law were changed, they might drop the subject altogether. Swimming's supporters said that the sport was a special case because it saved lives as well as keeping children fit.
John Lawton, director of education at the Amateur Swimming Association, said: "Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and some ethnic minorities do not learn to swim outside school. If children don't swim at school we shall end up with a generation which has never had the opportunity to learn."
Ministers, who have come under pressure from well-known musicians and artists, are anxious to emphasise that music, art, history, geography and technology must remain on the timetable: teachers will be able to choose topics from the existing curriculum. The approach is different from the one adopted by Welsh ministers and civil servants who have decided that some skills and topics are too important to be left to chance. True to Welsh choral traditions, singing a variety of songs with control of breathing, dynamics and pitch will remain compulsory for five to seven- year-olds. In history, Celtic Society must still be taught to juniors but teachers may opt for Tudor or Stuart Wales.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...
Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire