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Overcoming the challenges of primary school swimming education 


The shrill sound of the bell rings, signalling the end of another school day at Timberley Primary Academy. A group of ten children file out of the classroom, clutching their bags and excited about the day’s adventures. Their chatter, filled with anticipation, echoes down the corridor as they head towards the school’s unique new addition – a pop-up swimming pool. Today, these children are making waves in their school playground, building confidence, learning a life skill and having plenty of fun. 

Welcome to a typical day with Swim:ED, an innovative program that brings the swimming pool and quality swimming instruction to the heart of primary schools. For these children, the adventure of learning how to swim begins right here, not on a bus ride to a distant leisure centre. 

This blog post delves into the importance of swimming education in primary schools, how it is often overlooked, and the crucial role Swim:ED plays in addressing these challenges. From explaining the core issue to examining our unique solution, we invite you to explore how Swim:ED transforms swimming education. Let’s dive in! 


Background Information 

Learning to swim is much more than a fun pastime for any child. It is a vital life skill that forms an integral part of the national curriculum for primary education in England. Yet, many primary school children are failing to meet expectations.  

At the heart of this issue lies the logistic conundrum many schools face. Most primary schools do not have swimming facilities on-site, and arranging off-site swimming lessons can be a logistical nightmare involving transportation arrangements, safety considerations, and the allocation of staff time. It’s a process fraught with challenges, so swimming education often slips through the cracks.  

These hurdles, however, aren’t just a nuisance for school administrations; they significantly impact children’s learning experiences. Travelling to and from off-site swimming facilities eats into precious learning time. In the long run, this can profoundly affect children’s swimming proficiency and confidence in the water. 

This is where Swim:ED enters the picture. With an innovative turnkey solution, Swim:ED tackles these challenges head-on, delivering a quality swimming education experience right in the school playground. But before we dive into the Swim:ED solution, let’s explore why swimming education is a non-negotiable skill for every child and how it contributes to their overall well-being. 


 The Importance of Swimming Education 

Swimming is not just an enjoyable pastime; it’s a fundamental skill with profound benefits and importance. In this section, we dive into why swimming education matters and how it is encapsulated in the Swim:ED programme. 

1.Swimming as a life skill 

Let’s begin by recognising that swimming is not just an activity; it is an essential life skill. Proficiency in swimming can save lives by preventing drowning, the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. The World Health Organisation reports that forty people die every hour from drowning. This number could be significantly reduced with proficient swimming skills and water safety awareness. 

2. Importance of early learning 

It’s crucial to remember that children who learn to swim at a young age are often more comfortable and confident around water. Swimming lessons help them build strength, coordination, and a sense of independence. The ability to swim not only fosters physical development but also contributes to cognitive and social growth, promoting better learning outcomes across various domains. 

3. Swimming and the national curriculum 

With its far-reaching benefits, swimming naturally finds a place in the national curriculum. In the UK, swimming and water safety are part of the national curriculum for physical education. Schools are required to provide swimming instruction in either key stage 1 or 2. The curriculum outlines that pupils should be taught to: 

  • Swim competently, confidently, and proficiently over at least 25 metresqa. 
  • Use a range of strokes effectively. 
  • Perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations. 


Introducing the Swim:ED Solution 

Moving from the broader picture to our unique approach, let’s explore how Swim:ED addresses these issues and transforms the landscape of swimming education. 

1.A turnkey approach 

Here’s what makes Swim:ED stand out: it is a complete, turnkey primary school swimming education solution. We bring the pool to your school, eliminating the need for off-site travel and the associated logistical challenges. Our secure, heated, pop-up swimming pool delivers safe, high-quality swimming lessons directly to your school. 

2. Quality instruction and curriculum alignment 

We take immense pride in our team and curriculum. Our fully-qualified team delivers a tailored curriculum that meets national curriculum expectations for swimming and water safety. The goal is to teach children to swim and equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to be safe and confident in and around water. 

3. Measuring impact 

Finally, we believe in the power of data. One of the standout features of Swim:ED is our commitment to measuring impact. Through comprehensive assessments, we provide schools with valuable data on each child’s progress, allowing schools to gain meaningful insights into their pupils’ swimming abilities and confidence in the water. 


Implementing Swim:ED in your school 

For those keen on enhancing their swimming instruction, here’s a quick guide on how to bring the Swim:ED experience to your school: 

1.Reach out 

Begin by getting in touch with us. Visit our website or call us to express your interest. Our friendly team is eager to answer your queries and discuss how we can tailor our services to meet your school’s needs. 

2. Book a consultation 

Schedule a consultation with our team. We’ll visit your school, inspect your facilities, and design a plan that suits your school’s requirements. This visit will allow us to determine the best location for the pool and discuss other logistical considerations. 

3. Confirm your booking 

Once we’ve established the best plan for your school, you can confirm your booking. Our team will then set a date to install the pool and begin the swimming programme. 

4. Watch the transformation 

With everything in place, your school can now enjoy on-site swimming education of the highest standard. You can watch your pupils develop confidence, enhance their skills, and learn essential water safety. All this happens right in your school, minimising disruptions to the regular school schedule. 

5. Monitor progress 

Swim:ED’s commitment to impact measurement means you’ll receive regular updates on your pupil’s progress. These comprehensive assessments give valuable insight into each child’s development and help identify areas where additional support might be needed. 

Implementing Swim:ED is a seamless process designed to reduce the headaches often associated with swimming education and create a fun, engaging, and impactful learning experience. 


Swim:ED in action: Timberley Primary Academy experience 

Now that we’ve delved into the nitty-gritty of Swim:ED, let’s take a step into the real world and witness how our innovative approach to swimming education has transformed the learning experience at Timberley Primary Academy in Birmingham. 

Timberley, like many schools, faced significant challenges in providing quality swimming education. The pre-Swim:ED programme data was a clear indicator of the task our team had on our hands: 

– 7% of children were able to swim at least 25m. 

– 12% of children could use a range of strokes effectively. 

– No children were able to perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations. 

These figures were a stark reminder of the children’s gaps in swimming proficiency and water safety.  

Fast forward to the end of the Swim:ED programme and the transformation was profound. The post-programme data painted a picture of tremendous progress: 

  • 61.6% of children could swim at least 25m, an incredible leap from the initial 14.2%. 
  • 76.5% of children had mastered a range of strokes, significantly improving from the starting point of 14.2%. 
  • A whopping 89.1% of children now understood and could perform safe self-rescue in various water-based situations, a previously non-existent metric. 

 This remarkable turnaround exceeded our expectations and brought to life our mission of equipping every child with crucial swimming skills. 

 Ian Griffiths, the Deputy Head at Timberley, couldn’t have put it better: “Swim:ED has revolutionised swimming lessons at Timberley Primary Academy, saving us logistical challenges and assisting Year 6 attendance. With improved swimming skills and heightened water safety awareness, the impact on our children is beyond measure.” 

The success story at Timberley Primary Academy stands as a testament to the transformative potential of Swim:ED. Our goal is to mirror this success across more schools, helping to ensure that all children have access to quality swimming education, no matter their circumstances or background. 



Swimming is more than just a sport or a leisure activity. It’s a crucial life skill; every child has a right to learn it in a safe, secure, and conducive environment. With Swim:ED, we’ve turned the traditional approach to school swimming lessons on its head, bringing the pool to the school and making high-quality swimming education accessible and convenient. 

The results speak for themselves. The improvements in swimming abilities and water safety awareness at Timberley Primary Academy are phenomenal. We can’t wait to replicate this success across primary schools nationwide. 

With Swim:ED, schools will no longer have to see swimming as a logistical nightmare but as an integrated, impactful part of their curriculum. And for children, swimming will be a joyful, exciting part of their school day – a skill learnt with pride and carried forward for life. 


Additional Resources 

We encourage schools considering a partnership with Swim:ED or those wishing to learn more about the comprehensive nature of the programme to explore the range of resources we have available. 

One resource that can provide a further understanding of swimming and water safety in your school is the Primary School Swimming Review. Available via this link, it demonstrates where your swimming and water safety provision is strongest and what can be improved. The free report gives you a bespoke action plan in four minutes or less. 

Stay connected with us through our blog posts, where we continue to traverse the landscape of swimming education, discussing essential aspects and sharing success stories from partner schools like Timberley Primary Academy. 

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