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Cardiff Community News South Wales

Cardiff Council to address low numbers of children swimming

Children swimming underwater

CARDIFF COUNCIL has revealed plans to address the low number of children taking part in school swimming lessons.

Delivered by the Council’s Cardiff Commitment Curriculum Team, in partnership with Swim Wales, Cardiff Met Sport, GLL, Legacy Leisure, Urdd Gobaith Cymru and Public Health Wales, the project aims to increase the number of schools delivering swim provision whilst promoting water safety among children through a new delivery model.

Cardiff has one of the lowest levels of participation in swimming lessons in primary schools across all of Wales with only 57% of primary schools in the 2022/23 academic year able to send pupils to swimming lessons.

The new approach will provide a range of key features to assist schools in making swimming lessons more accessible and cost effective. Schools will be coupled with their local swimming pool with the opportunity to share transport with other schools in their area where possible and many will be able to actively travel to their local facility which can further reduce costs.

They will be provided with a streamlined booking system to help save money and reduce administrative tasks and a comprehensive charter has been designed to ensure consistent high-quality provision across all schools.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “Drowning is the second most common cause of non-intentional injury fatalities in children under 18 years of age in Wales, after transport related fatalities* and learning to swim can be the difference between life and death.

“We know that the take up of school swimming lessons in Cardiff is lower in comparison to other areas in Wales and we are committed to making significant changes so that schools have as much support as possible to enable swim provision to be delivered to learners across the city. By utilising local swimming pools means less travel time during the school day and promotes strong community ties, enhancing the learning experience.

“Safety is an important aspect of the curriculum in Wales and through partnership working, we want to ensure all children in Cardiff are able to have fun and be safe in and around water.”

Swim Wales National Learn to Swim Manager, Hanna Guise said: “School Swimming and Water Safety education is barely holding its head above water; swimming ability in Welsh children and specifically Cardiff, is at an all-time low.

“Swim Wales, in collaboration with our Water Safety Wales partners, highlight the importance of learning to swim and developing water competence skills for all our communities. By working together, we can help prevent drownings, save lives and make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of children in Cardiff.

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“Experiences in school shape our future relationship with swimming, water, and all aquatic activities and could have a lasting impact and influence on a child’s behaviour and decision making in and around water. The proposed actions and collaboration between all of the stakeholder organisations is vital to ensuring that all children in Cardiff are able to have fun and be safe in and around water.”

Swimming lessons will be offered in both Welsh and English medium, will include a specific water safety lesson and be available as a two-week intensive courses.

The scheme will be piloted from September 2024 to include schools in the same geographical areas as Eastern Leisure Centre in Llanrumney, Cardiff Met in Cyncoed and Cardiff International Pool located in Cardiff Bay. A full rollout to all schools is planned for 2025/26.

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