The Word on the Street: Is it parents’ or teachers’ job to teach our children to swim?

St James Swimming and Fitness Centre King's Lynn ENGANL00120130404102030
St James Swimming and Fitness Centre King's Lynn ENGANL00120130404102030
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The question of who should teach our children to swim has risen to the surface this week and there were mixed views about it on the streets of Lynn.

A new study by the University of East Anglia has suggested that just over half of children cannot swim 25 metres, the distance required by the National Curriculum, by the time they leave primary school.

And the Amateur Swimming Association, the sport’s national governing body, says a fifth of schools and a quarter of academies either don’t know how many of their children meet the requirements or don’t offer swimming lessons to their pupils at all.

But not everyone we spoke to was convinced that swimming should be part of the school timetable at all.

Lisa Addis, of South Lynn, said: “There’s too much responsibility for the teachers. I’d rather they concentrated on education rather than swimming.”

Gwen Tomlin, of Downham, said school lessons were important for social interaction, but maintained they should not be the only solution.

She said: “I think it’s a mixture. Parents should start them off but, all the way through school, they should have lessons.”

And Valerie Elliot-Smith, who was visiting West Norfolk from her home in Warwickshire, said: “It wouldn’t hurt the parents to take the children to the local pool at the weekend and in their spare time. They’re supposed to be entertaining the children.”

However, others were convinced that schools should take the lead in teaching youngsters to swim.

Victoria Carter, of Lynn, who admitted that she still can’t swim, said she was concerned about the cost for parents to take their children to a pool.

She added: “When I was at school, it was the school that took you to a swimming pool or they had one.

“I would have thought it’s part of the sports lessons.”

Terence Cullen, of Fairstead, agreed, saying: “They spend most of the day at school, don’t they? It’s part of the curriculum.”