“All schools must provide swimming instruction [1] either in key stage 1 or key stage 2.”

The Purpose of National Curriculum PE programme of study

  • Inspire all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically demanding activities. (Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect.)
  • Provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness.

Aims (The context within which schools develop their curriculum and ‘mission statements; encapsulating the purpose and what the school wants to achieve)

To ensure that all pupils:

  • develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities.
  • are physically active for sustained periods of time.
  • engage in competitive sports and activities.
  • lead healthy, active lives.

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

For Swimming and Water Safety the “matters, skills and processes” which ‘pupils should be taught’, are:  

  • To swim competently confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres.
  • To use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
  • To be able to perform safe self rescue in different water-based situations.

Swim Group has published helpful and comprehensive guides for primary schools, parents, pool operators and swimming teachers, “…designed to ensure all children meet the requirements of the national curriculum PE programme of study by the time they leave primary school in Year 6.”

I discuss the requirements and the guidance here and here.

[1] “Swimming Instruction”…for some reason always sounds to me like a bit of an echo from an earlier era, another century even and another context. I may just be a bit weird I suppose.
And yet, curiously, although there are four mentions of the plural in the context of reading, using, giving and following instructions, the only use of the word Instruction in the whole 200 pages of the National Curriculum is found down here in the basement with reference to what children should be taught in their swimming and water safety lessons.