Places for People Leisure is reminding people about the benefits of swimming for children.
Today in the UK, there are still up to 40 per cent of children leaving primary school without being able to swim. We all understand the health and swim safety benefits of swimming, but perhaps we don’t realise is how important choosing the right swim school is for your child.
We asked the Contract Swim Development Manager for The Triangle, The Dolphin and Kings Centre what questions parents should be asking when they want to choose a swim school for their children.
1. What accreditations does the swim school have?
Is the school ASA ‘Learn to Swim’ accredited? This is a quality mark and is designed for swimming providers who constantly review and develop their programme in line with strict ‘good practice’ guidelines.
2. How are instructors trained and what qualifications do they have?
Swim Teachers should have a Level 2 swimming teacher qualification; this is a national standard. Teachers at this level will plan, evaluate and deliver a series of lessons in a safe, effective and enjoyable environment. Qualifications alone are not the mark of a great teacher, I would want them to be passionate and engaging with children – it’s this that really inspires long-term positive involvement in swimming and builds confidence in water.
3. Are lessons structured and how can parents monitor development?
Does the swim school follow a structured swimming pathway which enables children to develop through stages? Do they have online or offline tracking of children’s progress and how as a parent do you access this information. We have an online home portal which teachers update per session and parents can access at anytime.
4. What are the ratios of kids to teachers?
The ASA recommends a ratio of no more than 12 learners per lesson. I would suggest that 8 or 9 kids are a much better figure. In fact at early stages we would insist on an ‘in water’ assistant teacher – which we found makes a real difference in children’s ability to develop quicker, whilst assisting in water confidence during these initial stages.
5. Ask about the pools.
Are the pools cleaned regularly? What changing facilities do they have for families? Is the water tested for chlorine and PH levels and does the temperature fall within recommended levels of 29-31c?
6. Are the kids rewarded or incentivised?
Do the children receive badges and certificates as they move through the stages?
7. Does the swim school offer other opportunities for kids?
Do they offer free or discounted swimming for lesson participants, fun events such as raft sessions, challenges, and aquatic fun days or provide links with local swimming clubs.
8. What lifeguarding does the swim school provide?
Do the swim schools provide lifeguards on poolside at all times and are they regularly trained.
9. Finally I would ask parents to ask other parents.
Listening to other parents is a great way to get a recommendation. At our centres we have had a long running history of providing successful lessons for local children – this really speaks volumes for the quality of a swim school.
What Our Parents Say about Us!
The Dolphin Leisure Centre has provided my three children with swimming lessons for the past 10 years. The service has always been good but the recent introduction of the information about each child’s swimming progress has been really useful, aided by the efficient and pro-active Neil Williams.
Neil Williams has been teaching swimming for over 15 years. In his role as Contract Swimming Development Manager he looks at ways of constantly improving swim standards at the leisure centres and is committed to encouraging people to realising the benefits that swimming can offer. As a father of two young children, he understands what parents are looking for when they choose a swim school and the importance of introducing children to the water from a young age.
For more information about accredited swimming lessons at The Triangle, The Dolphin and Kings Centre plus all the other water based activities that the centres provide, check out the swim sections on our websites below.