3 Shocking Reasons Almost Half of Children Can't Swim
Almost half the children in Britain can’t swim.
It’s a shocking statistic, isn’t it? We had to do a double-take ourselves when we saw it. But it’s true; according to a survey commissioned by Speedo, 40% of British children don’t possess this potentially life-saving skill.
And with drowning reported as the third highest cause of accidental death in children in the UK, the need for our children to learn to swim and be safe in and around water couldn’t be more important.
But how and why has this been allowed to happen in the first place? We delved a little deeper into the matter, and here’s what we found:
1. Parents don’t realise how important swimming is
Worryingly, almost half of the parents questioned in the survey by Speedo didn’t believe swimming was an important skill for their child to learn. This highlights the need for a nationwide education drive for both children and parents on the risks associated with the inability to swim and the dangers water can pose. With such a huge proportion of the UK’s parents not realising the importance of swimming as a skill, it’s suddenly less of a mystery why so many children haven’t yet learned.
Proof of adults not realising how important swimming is in the report last week by Sport England that showed the amount of adults swimming weekly was down by 24% in the last decade.
We can’t stress enough how important swimming is for our little ones, especially when it comes to their development and safety. We created a full run-down of all the main reasons parents should teach their children to swim, which you can see here.
2. Parents think it’s the schools’ responsibility
Another common misconception by parents is that it is the sole responsibility of the government and schools to teach their children to swim. While swimming is a part of the national curriculum and schools absolutely should be providing swimming lessons, parents do still need to take responsibility for their child learning to swim.
Whether this be through booking children in for regular swimming lessons at the local leisure centre, or through personal family trips to the pool, it’s a vital part of their learning that needs to be reinforced both inside and outside of school hours.
There’s also no need for parents to wait until their child reaches school age before teaching them to swim. Babies can start to swim from birth and have a natural affinity for the water, but it’s a skill they will rapidly lose if it’s not exercised, so taking them swimming from their early months onwards will give them a fantastic start in life.
3. Some schools fail to provide adequate lessons
Despite swimming being part of the curriculum, some primary schools are reportedly not honouring their obligations to provide adequate swimming lessons. According to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) a third of children are leaving primary school unable to swim, which highlights a real problem with the level of swimming tutorage these children are receiving, or not receiving as the case may be. Usually, kids swim from year three onwards. Ours swam in year four, aged 8-9 and loved it as they had already achieved their stage 4 so could swim confidently without floats or armbands. Don't let your child be the one learning in the baby pool when they are nine-years-old.
Describing swimming as ‘the only curriculum subject that saves lives’, the ASA is now pushing for primary heads to make swimming a priority, as well as for Ofsted to take a harder line in ensuring all primary schools deliver adequate swimming lessons.
Taking the above reasons into account, it’s easier to see why so many children in the UK are reaching secondary school age without learning to swim. Only with the continued education of parents, schools and governing bodies can we turn this around and ensure our children are safe around water, so we’re hoping to spread the word.
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Need tips on how to start your family swimming? Read our Aquatic Autumn ebook here.