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Home / News / RoSPA figures reveal 51% of children can’t swim

RoSPA figures reveal 51% of children can’t swim

Latest swim figures highlight a big challenge for schools in swimming and safety

Shocking figures revealing more than half of children cannot swim should be a wake-up call to schools, parents and the Government, warns the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

More than 1.1million primary schoolchildren in England – 51 per cent of children aged seven to eleven – cannot swim the 25metre length of a typical swimming pool unaided, a report by swimming’s governing body, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), and Kellogg’s has revealed.

The “Learning the Lesson – the future of school swimming” report also found that, on average, each child only received 8hours 15minutes of school swimming tuition a year, compared to the 22hours recommended by the government.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “These appalling figures show a failure to protect our children from the risk of drowning. Having the swimming and water safety skills to save yourself or others doesn’t come instinctively, it has to be taught.

“Fewer than 50 per cent of primary schoolchildren are able to swim. This is dreadful and needs to be a wake-up call for schools, parents and the Government to do more and treat swimming as a priority.

“There is quite clearly a huge challenge ahead, but one that needs to be faced. Worryingly, in our work with bereaved parents and coroners, RoSPA hears all too often how parents believed their children could swim, only to find out their abilities were little more than being able to float and doggy paddle.”

RoSPA, the leading accident prevention charity in the UK, is joining the ASA in calling for swimming and water safety to be a funding priority for schools, along with urging the Government and Ofsted to inspect school swimming as a National Curriculum subject.

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.