How teachers are building children’s water confidence with PE funding

Ian Wood, PE co-ordinator at Kirk Ella St. Andrew’s Community Primary School East Riding, blogs about teaching children water confidence with the Primary PE & Sport Premium.

When we first received the Primary PE and Sport Premium, we set out a bold action plan to get 100% of our children involved in competitive sport, 100% of children aged 7 to 11 involved in inter-school competitive sport and provide a broader range of sports for pupils to experience.

Swimming is a great way to stay active but also a vital life skill that can literally save your life. We decided that swimming would be one of the sports that we offered pupils as part of a broader spectrum alongside dodgeball and mountain biking.

In Key Stage 1, we introduced swimming galas for all children in year 1 and year 2, with the focus on building water confidence. There was no prerequisite for children to be able to swim, we simply wanted them to feel safe and have fun. We invited parents to watch, which sparked some into starting family swimming lessons. 

Upskilling our teaching staff

Training for most events takes place within school grounds during lunchtimes and after school, with fixtures around local schools, county schools, and across the country when teams qualify at national level. The exception to this is swimming training for the biathlon team, when we take children out of school over lunchtimes to the local leisure centre.

In order to be able to run this programme of sports and training for pupils, we used much of the funding to upskill our teaching staff. We now have our own qualified swimming instructors who can coach the biathlon team and many elements of our sport action plan can now continue long into the future, now that staff have been trained, and the infrastructure for events has been put in place.

We’ve helped pupils understand the benefits of sport

When thinking about what we have achieved in our school using the funding, the words from one of our pupils sums it up best: “Even when we’re losing, we always try our hardest, and when we win, we celebrate with respect.”

Pupils understand that sport is an enjoyable and healthy thing to be involved in.  We have seen physical activity levels rise massively across the school, and every single child now has the opportunity to compete – something that they are proud of and enjoy doing. There is greater integration of pupils, as all are involved, and children have found sports that they really enjoy - thanks to the broader range of opportunities they have been offered. 

Behaviour and attitudes have also improved across the school this year.  Teachers feel more confident that they are giving all children high-quality opportunities in PE and sport and the staff who have trained as swimming teachers feel very proud of the impact they are having.  Parents are also engaging more, one example of this is a child currently in year 6, who has additional needs, and discovered a love for swimming last year as a result of the programme of activity we were able to run with the Primary PE and Sport Premium  His parents now take him regularly, and his physical activity levels have increased massively as a result. The funding really has changed the opportunities available to our children for the better.