New Survey Released by STA for International Learn to Swim Week 2022
Swimming is proven to be one of the best extra-curricular activities for children’s physical and mental wellbeing, and in a recent nationwide survey* carried out by STA, a national governing body for swimming, 86% of parents agreed that swimming is an excellent way to look after your health.
However, while parents’ awareness of the importance of swimming on mental health is encouraging at this critical post-pandemic time, this same survey, which has been published today by STA to mark the start of International Learn to Swim Week (ILSW), also reveals that a third of parents are having trouble accessing regular swimming lessons because of the current swimming teacher shortage.
According to the parents STA surveyed, 1 in 3 children do not know how to swim.
While swimming was cited as the top extra-curricular activity, slightly ahead of football and dance, still only a 1/3 of the parents STA surveyed said their child attended swimming lessons. This despite nearly 100% of the respondents agreeing that it is important for a child to learn how to swim, not only for health but so they can learn a key life skill.
Nearly a quarter also said they would like to take their child to swimming lessons but the nearest pool with availability is too far away travel wise – and especially with the recent rises in the cost of living, with over a half saying they are having to cut back on doing things for themselves to help pay for their child’s extra-curricular activities. Over a third as well, said they have to cut back on the number of extra-curricular activities their child does per week.
This latest research also concurs with an industry-wide survey STA conducted in November 2021, which revealed that UK swim schools had lost 50% of their teaching staff during the pandemic – and this had resulted in many thousands of children now having to join long waiting lists for swimming lessons.
STA say demand for swimming lessons is at a record high, but with availability still being restricted because of a lack of teachers – infused now too by the rise in living costs with some parents unable, through no fault of their own, able to travel further afield – they are concerned that there could be a generation of children that miss out on learning to swim.
As a national charity dedicated to ‘preserving human life by the teaching of swimming, lifesaving and survival techniques’, STA has already started to take proactive action in its 90th anniversary year, by launching STAnd Up for Swimming and pledging tens of thousands of its own charity funds to train new swimming teachers for FREE, around the UK in 2022.
So far, just based on the first quarter of the year, STA is on schedule to have more than 500 newly qualified Level 2 Award swimming teachers by the summer – and more free training courses are being registered weekly for those looking for a career in swimming teaching, or would like to gain a rewarding job that fits around their studies or family.
Kaylë Brightwell, Head of Qualification Development, said:
“The biggest concern for us as an educational charity is the impact the shortage of swimming teachers is having on children being able to access regular swimming lessons, as evidenced by this survey.
It shows it is a critical issue – and especially with the latest statistics from WAID** sadly showing an increase in accidental drownings again last year – because swimming unlike any other extra-curricular activity teaches children a key life skill.”
“However, it is really positive to see how important it is to the mass majority of parents that their child learns how to swim – and our message is that even though we are small charity with no government funding, we are committed to playing our part through STAnd Up for Swimming, and training as many new teachers as we can to start filling this skills gap, so more children can access locally-convenient swimming lessons.
In doing so, as part of our charitable objective, we can continue to help give as many youngsters as possible the opportunity to learn how to swim, and learn how to be safe in and around water.”
“Plus, it goes without saying that after the last two years, there has never been a more important time to support children with their mental health and wellbeing, and swimming is an activity they can truly enjoy while benefitting from all the physical and mentally positives it inherently provides. With this also being Mental Awareness Week, aligning this message with our own during ILSW is very important,” confirmed Kaylë