News & Updates

Updated Guide for Baby Swimming

PAS 520 books arranged on a table

The aquatics and early years sector has thrown its collective weight around re-launched guidelines for the delivery of baby swimming.

The 2nd edition of the British Standards Institute Code of Practice is an updated version of the guidelines first launched in Parliament in October 2015 and is backed by Swim England, the Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA), Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit, Splashabout, Swimming Nature, the British Society of Underwater Photographers and Water Babies.

The PAS 520:2017 outlines best practice for swim schools, swimming teachers, leisure operators, underwater photographers and carers of children aged 0 to 4.

Following a wide-ranging consultation since the first guidelines were released just over 18 months ago, the updated document includes revisions around:

  • Swimming school class sizes and teaching ratios
  • Recommended qualifications
  • Amended definitions, e.g. ‘responsible adult’

Fully titled as Safeguarding 0 to 4 year old children within the teaching of swimming, including any associated professional photography – Code of Practice, the new guidelines provide the definitive blueprint for the industry.

Dave Candler, STA CEO, who works at the forefront of baby and pre-school swimming teaching, said:

STA is really pleased to have played a significant part in influencing the updated standards in the new PAS 520 publication; our aim, following consultation with members, was to ensure the revised policy recommendations represented the whole of the baby swimming industry, both large and smaller swim schools.

We are also delighted that it is the first document that has been agreed by all the major awarding organisations in the aquatics industry, thus ensuring we are all working together to raise standards.

Mother and baby in pool playing with toy

Jane Nickerson, Swim England CEO, said: Ensuring the safety of babies and toddlers in our pools is paramount, and so it is right that guidelines such as these are regularly reviewed.

We need to ensure all those involved in the delivery of baby swimming lessons provide the best service possible so that children are safe to enjoy the water and parents are reassured their children are receiving high quality lessons.

Steve Franks, Managing Director of Water Babies and technical author of the PAS 520 publication said: We are delighted to launch updated standards for the baby and toddler swimming industry. It is estimated that there are nearly half a million people taking part in baby and toddler swimming lessons every year.

So it is only right and proper that everyone working within this growing sector and the public who choose baby swimming as a leisure activity has guidance on what is best practice. This publication will help in the delivery of consistently high standards across the UK, providing peace of mind to parents and carers and lay the foundations for the long-term health of the industry.

It is important to keep on developing and evolving standards, as should be expected, and it has been a real pleasure working with colleagues across the industry on these refreshed guidelines.


To purchase a copy of PAS 520:2017, please click here to visit BSI’s shop.

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