Some estimates suggest that up to 40 per cent of children leave primary school education unable to swim.
Access to swimming lessons benefits children’s health, fitness and well-being, but can also provide a greater sense of security and safety in and around the water. Why, then, do we not prioritise teaching our children to swim? Surely, given the health and safety benefits, we should be making this vital life skill part of the statutory primary school curriculum?
My constituent, Lewis Condy, has recognised this gap in our children’s education and has been tirelessly pursuing this issue, lodging a petition with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee. The committee heard evidence about the unequal access to swimming lessons for children and how there is a direct correlation between a child’s social and economic background and their opportunity to learn to swim.
This is why it is so important that swimming lessons are embedded in the curriculum, so everyone has an equal opportunity to learn to swim regardless of their background. I was disappointed to learn that my constituent’s petition was closed. However, we have been working together on ways we can continue to fight for swimming lessons for children. On Thursday, I raised the importance of swimming lessons and swimming pools in the Scottish Parliament.
We are also facing a risk that swimming pools will close because of high energy and running costs. I’ll be supporting the Save Our Pools campaign, so that residents in Edinburgh and the Lothians have access to these vital resources, which can benefit us in both health and recreational ways.
Scottish Swimming has highlighted how pools are part of our ‘Natural Health Service’ and that, without them, we run the risk of having a whole generation unable to swim and communities without health and social activities. I want to see a future where all children leaving P7 have had the chance to learn to swim and can continue to enjoy the sport in our nation’s pools well into adulthood. Only by petitioning our governments to support the maintenance and running of pools and making swimming a mandatory part of the school curriculum can this become a reality for children here in Edinburgh and the Lothians.