Creating a Long-term Solution for Staff Training

This article was originally featured in our Summer issue of SwimBiz, STA’s quarterly news publication for swim schools, offering industry news, marketing insight and more. You can read all previous issues of SwimBiz and subscribe to get future issues delivered straight to your inbox here.


Adding a training arm to your business can be a natural progression for many swim schools. With 81 percent of swim schools reporting difficulty in recruiting qualified staff, could gaining STA aquatic tutor status be a solution to the problem?

Teacher recruitment and retention can be one of the most difficult aspects of running a swim school. An STA survey conducted in 2015 reveals more than 81 percent of 229 swim schools could not find appropriately qualified swimming teaching staff. These substantial findings, not surprisingly, had further effects for the swim schools, including 71 percent having waiting lists for swimming lessons and the same percentage stating that the difficulty in finding appropriate staff was effecting their business growth plans.

Qualified teachers are essential in order to deliver the lifesaving skill of learning to swim and in turn meet the demands on your business to offer this service. In response to this problem, this article discusses how you could personally contribute to training within the aquatic industry, whilst looking at how your business could also benefit from the opportunity.

STA aquatic tutor status could help you combat the primary problem in lacking the suitably of qualified teachers and the associated effects this can have on the growth of your business. This is by no means a quick fix and implementing a training scheme takes planning and commitment but the long term benefits are worth the initial time and outlays.

What if you could utilise your extensive aquatic teaching skills and experience to successfully educate aspiring swimming teachers, moulding teachers to your swim school requirements through nurturing and mentoring? An in-house training scheme not only allows swim schools to become self-sufficient but can also aid with staff retention, allowing them the opportunity to progress through STA qualifications and even specialising in areas of interest. Tutoring opens up a whole new approach to your delivery, bringing with it new challenges and responsibilities. This exciting personal development opportunity allows further career progression and potential financial rewards for your business.

How can becoming an STA aquatic tutor result in substantial cost savings for your swim school? The cost of training through external courses can be in excess of £500 per candidate for both STA Award and Certificate qualifications, whilst delivering the same qualifications in-house can cost as little as £103 per candidate (registration and manual costs), realising a substantial saving of up to 80%. With the opportunity to open courses to external candidates, many providers not only save on training budgets but also realise additional revenue from offering extra spaces.

Allowing a flexible approach to delivery, aquatic training courses can be run over a period of time to suit the tutor and the needs of the swim school. For example, upon completion of the STA Swimming Teacher Mentor Scheme, candidates are placed in an STA swim school to accumulate compulsory volunteer hours, whilst receiving support and guidance to help instil best practice and confidence in new teachers.

Fact: Did you know that STA swimming teacher courses have a minimum requirement of only 2 hours training per week? Therefore, course delivery can take place over an extended period of time.

The same type of model can be replicated by swim schools, in order to entice new teachers into the profession whilst benefiting from the extra assistance the volunteers can provide.

As a business you will need to consider where you can find the candidates to fill your courses. Funnily enough, many of your candidates could be right in front of you or certainly in close proximity. Some swim schools have turned to offering training to interested parents to help meet the demand, particularly day teaching hours for baby swimming.

Recent research conducted by Puddle Ducks found that over 40% of their staff were originally parents. After attending classes, they were inspired to complete a teaching course.

Other candidates could come from your older swimmers, Junior Lifeguards or local club swimmers. Their commitment to swimming and learning could make them the perfect target audience for your
courses and ideal additions to your team. Implementing a successful training scheme may see a high conversion of swimmers to teachers, contributing to continued participation in aquatic activity.

Working with local schools, colleges and universities, particularly with the sports departments, can prove highly successful for course uptake by students looking for part time work or aspiring teachers looking to add to their portfolio of teaching qualifications. Although this may not be the long term career choice for some candidates, as an employer you can still retain teachers throughout their studies for several years. For those wishing to pursue a career in the leisure industry a structured career pathway, with the opportunity to utilise skills in their
chosen area may see more long term commitment from staff who ‘love what they do.’

For further information on how you can develop your own career progression or to see how you could develop a training scheme for your business, please view the flow chart below.


To explore this opportunity further, please have a look at our aquatic tutor webpage for more information and details on upcoming courses.

Swimming Teaching

Brett Preston

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