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We are very proud of our swimming programme at Springmead School. Every child from reception to year 6 swims every week. The national requirement, that every child leaves primary school being able to swim 25 metres has always been met at our school, and more often than not exceeded, our school relay team has competed at the National Primary School Championships on several occasions.

Our swimming teachers are all qualified teachers and coaches with specific training and experience in this area of the curriculum. Our lead swimming coach Sarah Paton, has competed at an international level and is head coach at Trowbridge swimming club. We are so keen to get our children enjoying swimming that we also hire Frome swimming pool once a half term for a family swim session on a Saturday afternoon. This is also a time when the more able swimmers are able to have a go at getting their distance badges. These sessions are run by the pool, not Springmead staff, although we do have a member of staff there to assess the distance badges.

Our swimming programme is organised by ability rather than age. This means that children may swap groups periodically throughout the year. Whilst children, with no other swimming input, have always achieved the national 25 metre objective by year 6, we strongly encourage children to swim outside of school as well. You may think why do I need to do this? Isn’t school swimming enough? First of all our swimming teachers are passionate about swimming and see their personal objective as developing keen, passionate swimmers with the ability, skill and desire to go onto competitive swimming.

Secondly, over a course of a year a child will have 35 swimming sessions, less than 17 hours total in the pool. Of that time we have galas, fun sessions and special activities. The amount of time in the pool to progress through the grades is limited. Perhaps we could liken it to learning to read; clearly we wouldn’t expect a child to learn to read with half an hour reading per week, but rather with lots of time and input.

Swimming is an important life skill, as well as being a sport that complements all other sports through developing stamina, suppleness and strength. For this reason we teach swimming the whole year alongside other seasonal sports.

At Springmead School we follow the School National Plan. For a child of an average swimming ability we would expect the grade the child is working towards to be consistent with their year group. Please note that this is different to the ASA National Teaching Plan levels, which progress at a faster rate as these levels go from 1-10, rather than the 1-6 we work towards in school lessons.

CrouchedIf a child is having lessons outside of school and inside of school there may well be times when they jump ahead. This takes ongoing input and dialogue from parents and teachers. When children reach the top of the National School Plan, they will be training in our squad. This is the beginning of performance swimming, building on stamina as well as skills. We send home assessment sheets each term with a current ‘snapshot’ of where the child, in a school swimming lesson, is performing.

Swimming is a vital part of our curriculum, with the exception of a few medical conditions, we expect full participation. If a child is struggling with any aspect of swimming, we are happy to talk over issues and have a whole wealth of strategies that may be helpful.

If your child is in our nursery and not yet swimming at school, we would like to encourage you to get your child into the water as much as possible, whether that is in the bath, shower or swimming pool. Being able to lie flat on his/or her back with water above their ears and their face wet is a fundamental starting block for being a confident swimmer, and the younger this is introduced the easier the basic confidence skills are picked up in the pool.

Finally, as with all aspects of learning, children progress at different rates depending on their innate ability, their enjoyment and the amount of time devoted to the sport.

If you would like to speak to a member of the swimming team, please feel free to call Sarah Paton at school between 9:00am and 10:00am every Thursday, alternatively you can email Madeleine Taylor on mtaylor@springmead.com On more pastoral issues related to swimming please speak to the class teacher.