Awards are a very important part of the motivation and planning process, especially for younger learners. The young learner who receives his or her first 5 metre award cannot wait to get outside to inform their parent/guardian. It is usual for the parent/guardian to be as excited as the learner as well!
For Swim Schools, the sale of awards (certificate and badge) can create additional income if marketed correctly, awarded appropriately and when parents/ guardians are informed about the progressive scheme used.
How do you use the range of awards available to create additional income while maintaining the standards, and not over selling to parents/guardians?
During the school holidays when pool time may become more available, set up specialist sessions where learners can attend a half day or full day course on a specific subject. This gives learners the opportunity to try new aquatic activities such as synchro or snorkelling, or an opportunity to refine and practice certain skills such as diving, starts and turns or personal survival.
Higher Distance Sessions
When learners reach a certain standard and ability, the higher distance awards are often not complete due to lack of pool and programming time. Therefore, create a dedicated session where lane ropes are set up, and learners choose which distance they want to attempt; teachers can be designated a lane to count the lengths and ensure stroke standards. Once learners have completed their 3000 metres, 4000 metres or mile for example, their parents/guardians can be offered the opportunity to purchase the award.
This could also be run in conjunction with a charity event; where the distance of all learners are combined and the Swim School tries to achieve the distance of the Channel or Thames for example. Younger learners in the Swim School could swim 5, 10, 25 metres so they are included in the event.
Create an event week that links to an award series so all groups work towards those awards.
This works well for the higher levels; however younger learners may need to be taught simpler skills which progress to the more advanced awarded skills. A STAnley Well Done certificate may be given instead.
A certain week in the swimming term becomes Award Week – for example, week 8 of a 10 week course or week 9 of a 12 week course. Swimming teachers can work towards and develop the skills needed for an award during the course, i.e. distance or swimming without/with reduced buoyancy aids.
Inform parents/guardians about Award Week in advance and ask them need to bring along their learners’ Success Tracker. This gives swimming teachers the opportunity to sell an award, while giving extra motivation to learners during the course term.
This will also help show parents/guardians a learners’ progress.
Swimming teachers will need to ensure they plan their lessons so they know from the start of term which award they will be working towards, and so that learners are prepared. Awards must not be given if a learner cannot achieve the learning outcomes. A different award may need to be completed for some learners such as a distance award or supporting award.
The Swim School manager must also ensure all awards are in stock and available. Another good tip is to designate a separate area or desk, if possible, where parents/guardians can purchase the award from – this will help ease a large queue forming at reception or in the changing rooms.
Parents/guardians often do not know about the award scheme used or when a learner has gained an award, which is why they often do not buy them. Having a display in the pool area, reception or around the changing rooms will help inform parents/guardians about the swim scheme, what awards a learner will gain and how the awards/learner progress throughout the scheme.
Ensuring the information is passed from swimming teacher to a parent/guardian effectively, so they know which and when a learner has gained an award, can often be a problem for Swim Schools – and especially if another lesson starts as one finishes. Here are some examples of different options available:
- Giving the learner a laminated card or sticker which states the achieved award (this can be given to reception upon purchase)
- Every learner has an STA Success Tracker; on award week they bring the Success Tracker to the lesson and give it to their teacher, who signs and dates the correct award, hand the Success Tracker back to the learner to go to reception and purchase the award
- Swim Schools can use an electronic booking system where teachers select the achieved award on a tablet – this information is recorded on the learner file so the correct award can be purchased at reception.
It must be remembered that the awards are for standards of achievement and they must not be given just because a learner has reached the end of the course of lessons. The swimming teacher should also have high standards. It is in the interest of the profession that the standardisation of good teaching practice and the examinations for awards should be properly executed.