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Water Safety and School Swimming

Swimming and Water Safety

The National Curriculum stipulates that all 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



 The Department of Education indicates that the 2014 National Curriculum includes a greater emphasis on Swimming within the PE curriculum in comparison with other areas of activity such as Games, Gymnastics and Dance. The revised curriculum for Physical Education sets out clear expectations that all pupils regardless of ability or disability will learn to swim.


Vision: ‘To ensure that every child has the opportunity to participate in high quality school swimming linked to community programmes, delivered by appropriately qualified people in a safe environment’. Swim England (National Governing Body for Swimming) 

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If you would like information about extra lessons at any of our local pools to further your child’s swimming ability or to give your child an early start before they get to Y4, please see Ms Searle or click on these links




ASA School Swimming Charter: Primary School of the Year Award 2016


Your school has been shortlisted as one of the Finalists for this year’s ASA Aquatics Awards 2016 for the ASA School Swimming Charter: Primary School of the Year Award.

The 2016 Aquatics Awards will for the first time recognise participants across the entire ASA pathway from youngsters learning to swim through to our elite athletes on the international stage, and all those whose continued dedication ensures the smooth running of the sport.

The ceremony will be held on Saturday 26th November 2016 at the University of Birmingham and will see individuals, facilities and schools recognised across a number of categories and will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the achievements of all those from across the aquatics community.


In November 2016 Mrs Briggs and Ms Searle travelled to Birmingham to be awarded Gold for Phillimore’s school swimming.


ASA Aquatics Awards 2016 Winners

ASA Learn to Swim Award

ASA School Swimming Charter: Primary School of the Year

This award recognises a school that has taken appropriate steps to demonstrate proactive action to improve the delivery of their school swimming.


  • GOLD - Phillimore Community Primary School

  • SILVER - St. Barnabus C.E. Primary School

  • BRONZE - Potterhanworth C.E. Primary School


    Find out more by linking to the ASA website:



    Read about what we do at Phillimore:


    Phillimore Primary School Swimming Report 2015/16

    KS2 attainment over the past 12 months

    We knew that improving on 2014/15’s school swimming results (83%) was going to be a challenge for 2015/16. In anticipation, we had recognised the need for additional lessons to assist in reaching the required minimum level. Working closely with the head teacher and school governors, we provided an early intervention programme for Y3 pupils Summer 2015. By September 2015, we were already ahead of the game as our Y4s had all experienced two visits to a pool through school and were ready with kit and an understanding they would attend swimming lessons every week during 2015/16. It was notable that Y4 parents also had an improved understanding of the school’s expectation to ensure their child not only learnt to swim but would be safe around water.

    Initial assessment in September 2015 revealed that 3% of Y4s could swim 10m unaided and 0% able to swim 25m. By April 2016 during the School Swimathon, 43.8% swam 25m+; 28% swam 100m+ with 6 pupils swimming in excess of 600m. By July 2016, 91.2% were able to swim at least 25m and had passed all aspects of the National Curriculum, an astounding achievement given the low starting point and general lack of stamina.

    Y4 Class 9: 92.8%

    Y4 Class 10: 89.6%

    Our senior leadership team and school governors all recognise that the value added not just to attainment and fitness through school swimming lessons but also to whole school improvement, justifies the high investment the school makes to school swimming.

    Up skilling of School Swimming deliverers

    We recognise that rapid progress must be made at school swimming not just for a child’s self esteem but also for school’s investment both in time and financially. It is therefore vital that all adults involved, work as a team to provide high quality delivery for each child. School staff know the pupils and their needs so are required to support from within the water. This enables every child regardless of ability and confidence to work in deep water as they know they have a familiar adult who will support and work with them. The school has ensured that through careful timetabling, those with NCTP qualifications accompany school swimming lessons. Swimming instructors also undertake continuous profession development which includes observing and team teaching alongside more experienced colleagues. However, this year has seen a step change as the school has released the PE subject lead to deliver training to Sheffield’s swimming instructors to ensure swimming lessons meet recognised ‘outstanding’ lesson criteria. The workshop titled ‘What Outstanding Looks Like’ shared pedagogy with instructors and demonstrated ways to bring school swimming lessons in-line with school based lessons, and acknowledging swimming as a National Curriculum subject. Deliverers know that every child must make progress during lessons through differentiation: extension activities for the most able and focused targeted support given to others. We frequently have students from local universities (the next generation of swimming instructors) attached to either the school or the swimming provider, who gain insight into high quality teaching and learning.

    Delivery of high quality School Swimming

    Lessons provide high quality experiences for all pupils with good working relationships between partners as key. This includes school, parents, transport, pool operators and instructors. One parent of a new arrival from Eastern Europe was very concerned about swimming lessons so was invited to join us on the bus and at the pool to witness her child’s provision. Her experience was so positive that she told us after the lesson with limited English that she ‘loved the lesson, loved the school and loved this country’. High quality lessons do not automatically occur. Communication on water quality, changing room cleanliness and protocol is vital to ensure the environment impacts positively on quality of learning. We provide three instructors (levels 2/3/4) with Lifeguard qualifications, First Aid and DBS. One member of school staff is ASA NCTP qualified and her input to the overall programme ensures that all aspects of the National Curriculum are covered with formative and summative assessment feeding into the reward and recognition programme. Time is spent analysing results to identify next steps to meet needs of all pupils. It is acknowledged that while pupils may acquire basic skills early on in the programme, lack of stamina to swim any distance prevents progress. We ensure children have to work hard. Learning to swim in deep water early on, is an important feature of delivery with continuous physical activity for the whole 40 minutes. This has significant impact on fitness levels of our pupils and therefore on whole school improvement.

    Reward and recognition programme

    We find the variety within the Charter awards structure provides many opportunities to reward pupils for attainment and assists parents with their understanding of achievement. This is important as swimming is not culturally familiar for the majority of our families and yet is now recognised as one the most popular subjects on the school timetable demonstrated by higher than average attendance on swimming days. One Somali parent stated that Mondays were the only day in the week when her son was excited to get out of bed to go to school...because he had swimming. Pupils enjoy using their School Swimming Charter passports, entering their details and achievements with use of stickers as they progress through the awards and are proud to receive certificates and badges in celebration assemblies. Pupils have now witnessed older siblings receiving their ASA School Swimathon certificates and hearing about the distances clocked up so look forward to demonstrating how far they can swim when it is their turn. To achieve the water safety aspects of the Charter awards, we have developed a programme which we deliver both at school, in the pool and on the bus travelling to the pool making the most of the 12 minute journey when children have a talk partner to discuss meanings of flags, signs and what they would do if a friend fell in the local canal. As part of a new after school swimming club, children are also rewarded with Top Up swimming certificates and a Total Swimming DVD.

    Competitive opportunities

    Pupils are encouraged to compete both against themselves and their peers. They are aware of their ongoing personal bests through the ASA Charter passports, reward and recognition programme and love collecting the certificates and badges when they pass the next level. However, the swimming lessons always include mixed ability team games with a variety of themes ranging from ball skills to water polo to innovative counting of plastic ducks/fish/floats/sinkers. Every child participates in these games regardless of ability and their contribution is valued through encouragement from team mates led by instructors as role models. In so doing, many School Games level 1 competitive opportunities are provided within the programme with 100% participation contributing to the Sainsbury’s bronze/silver/gold quality assurance mark status which schools can annually apply for. The head teacher also recognises the contribution that the programme makes to the SMSC curriculum and to children’s understanding of British Values. Pupils are encouraged to support their own team but also to recognise the contributions made by other teams learning to deal with both losing and winning. Work covered at school on the Olympic and Paralympic values extends into our work at the swimming pool. This enables every child regardless of ability or disability to be recognised for their achievements. In celebration of the 2016 Paralympics, the school has been developing a number of swimming festivals with schools in the locality which will have inclusion as a central theme and which we hope will contribute towards improved community cohesion.

    Innovative ways of delivering School Swimming

    Phillimore is in an area of high socio-economic deprivation. For most families English is an additional language and swimming sits outside familiar family activities. Recognising the lack of awareness and in some cases distrust, it is therefore vital we provide an exciting and innovative programme. We increased our early intervention from two to five lessons for each Y3 during Summer 2016 and have re-invented our delivery to meet needs and maximise time we have children in the water. The first few lessons concentrate on enabling pupils to gain some control as the feeling of weightlessness is new and frightening to some. Children participate in a wide variety of games as they get used to their new environment. Focus at first is on fun and provides a distraction from the unfamiliar. However, the deep end has become a feature of our success. We found that faster progress is made if children with floatation aids are out of their depth. In lesson six, all children start to swim from deep to shallow end and depending on confidence and understanding of body position and propulsion techniques, differentiation is by support (the least confident accessing armbands, woggles and 1:1 adult support). Pupils quickly gain confidence, some choosing to jump in to start their distance swim. The remarkable aspect is when new arrivals join us with very low starting points, they see their peers enjoy the deep end, so follow suit. We have seen a marked improvement in fitness levels helping meet whole school targets.

    Any other supporting evidence

    To take our swimming programme to the next level, we needed to change the mindset of our local community. We can teach children to swim, but to become strong swimmers for life, parents must be involved. With a Swimathon Foundation grant, an after school family swimming club was created. With 99 child and 67 adult footfall so far, this will have long lasting impact. Giving swimming a high profile by actively seeking additional aquatic based opportunities also has impact. We took 30 pupils to Ponds Forge diving pool for a taster session with City of Sheffield Diving using the confidence they had gained through working in deep water at their swimming lessons. We took part in the ‘Biggest School Swimming Lesson’ by focusing on water safety and making parents aware of their responsibilities. We recognise the need to lead by example both locally and nationally demonstrating what is possible. As a tutor for the AfPE Level 5/6 qualification for primary PE, the PE subject lead has highlighted school swimming as an area for further attention. Sheffield PE Alliance led by and for primary head teachers has school swimming on the agenda for 2016/17 analysing Phillimore’s success and following initiatives such as inclusion of results on the school website. We have shared our case study on school swimming with ‘Physical Education Matters’. However, there is always room for improvement. New arrivals in Y5/6 must be targeted and the potential to bring a ‘Swim Safe’ programme to Sheffield needs to be investigated.