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Physical Education, including school swimming, is compulsory - A note on DfE statutory learning

Physical Education (including swimming) and the National Curriculum

All of the Physical Educational elements of the school curriculum, including swimming, are a compulsory requirement for the National Curriculum and are not optional.  As a minimum, all children are assessed as to their ability to swim 25 meters with children who are confident swimmers beyond this expectation developing technique and learning self-saving skills.


Drowning remains one of the most common causes of accidental death in children, so being able to swim is an essential life-saving skill. It is  important to remember that children who appear water confident are not always competent swimmers.


At Ashgate Primary School, children learn to swim in Years 3 and 4.  As with all curriculum areas (such as English and mathematics) learning is a requirement.


Parents cannot opt their child out of swimming lessons


The exception to this would be on medical grounds which would require a certified medical diagnosis of a recognised condition preventing swimming and a doctor’s signed direction not to take part.  This does not include recently having ears pierced, what the ear piecing studio advises or what you read on the internet.


Ear piercings – Important

With this in mind, parents of children in Year 3 and 4 who are scheduled/currently swimming are not to have their child’s ears pierced during term time or less than 2 weeks before a term in which their child swims.


Children with recent ear piercings will be required to swim.  NHS guidance is that swimming should be avoided less that 24hrs after piercing, but ideally until healed.  There is no direction not to swim by the NHS. 


Your child’s ability to swim and the legal requirement to take part in the National Curriculum far exceeds a cosmetic or aesthetic desire or trend


If you have your child’s ears pierced when they are scheduled to swim you have chosen to do so in breach of this guidance.  Your child will be required to swim as per National Curriculum requirement.


Other reasons why your child should learn to swim

Swimming is lots of fun for people of all ages and children especially love getting in the water and enjoying themselves.

But it is not just fun, swimming also provides lots of health benefits which can help to keep your children healthy and happy at the same time:

  • Swimming keeps your child’s heart and lungs healthy, improves strength and flexibility, increases stamina and even improves balance and posture

Another great thing about swimming is that children of any age or ability can take part and it is more accessible for children with additional needs than almost any other sport.

  • Swimming provides challenges and rewards accomplishments, which helps children to become self-confident and believe in their abilities
  • Your child will have plenty of opportunities to make friends and grow in confidence

But health, fun, and confidence are not the only reasons why your child should learn to swim. Learning to swim also opens up the door to a range of other activities.