Memorandum submitted by the Department
of Culture, Media and Sport
THE SPORT OF SWIMMING
1. The Government welcomes the Committee's
inquiry into the important sport of swimming. This memorandum
seeks to address the issues the Committee has raised with Department
for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Transport, Local
Government and the Regions and Department for Education and Skills
and sets out the wide range of Government policies which have
an impact on swimming and/or seek to use swimming to meet Government
2. Swimming is a life skill, an activity
which enhances health and one that enables people to access a
wide range of leisure activities safely. It is a popular and healthy
leisure and recreational activity for people of all ages and all
abilities, including people with disabilities. It is a popular
competitive sport and elite athletes have the power to inspire
us all by their performances. When we think of British swimming
we think of household names such as Duncan Goodhew, Adrian Moorhouse
and Sharon Davies. From overseas, we all remember the performances
of Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympics and more recently Ian
Thorpe at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Finally, of course, we must
remember that above all swimming is fun.
3. The Government recognises the importance
of swimming in the primary school curriculum. Since the introduction
of the National Curriculum, swimming has always been a compulsory
element of the Physical Education National Curriculum as one of
the six activities specified. It remained so even when programmes
of study for the non-core subjects were temporarily suspended
to allow for the establishment of the National Literacy and Numeracy
Strategies between September 1998 and July 2000.
4. The National Curriculum was revisited
in 1999 taking on board the subject communities' concerns. As
a result in National Curriculum 2000:
the programme for swimming was renamed
swimming activities and water safety to emphasise its vital contribution
non-statutory programme was included
in Key Stage 1 in addition to the revised statutory programme
in Key Stage 2;
the revised programme built on and
enhanced the original programme set out in the previous National
Curriculum for PE.
5. Since the introduction of the National
Curriculum in 1988 PE has been a compulsory part of the Curriculum.
Swimming was one of the six activities specified. The current
programme of study state that by the end of Key Stage 2, children
should have been taught to:
pace themselves in floating and swimming
challenges related to speed, distance and personal survival;
swim unaided for a sustained period
of time over a distance of at least 25 metres;
use recognised arm and leg actions,
lying on their front and back;
use a range of recognised strokes
and personal survival skills.
6. In an attempt to understand the real
issues affecting teaching and learning of swimming the then DfEE
commissioned OFSTED to produce a report on swimming at Key Stage
2 (published in November 2000).
7. The Government welcomed the generally
positive report, which showed that in the schools inspected in
November 1999 four out of five children were able to swim 25 metres
at the end of Key Stage 2. However there were some aspects of
the teaching of swimming at Key Stage 2 which caused particular
a small minority of schools did not
cover the full programme of study, in particular the area of water
many schools did not make special
provision for pupils who are unlikely to swim by the end of Key
the coverall figure of four out of
five pupils swimming 25 metres by Key Stage 2 conceals a significant
variation depending on the location and Free School Meals banding
8. In response to the Ofsted report the
then Schools Minister established the Swimming Advisory Group
with the following terms of reference:
"To consider the main findings of the OFSTED
report, and other relevant survey findings, and to make recommendations
of workable proposals, both in the short term and long term that
address the main issues of concern, including water safety lessons,
and how to increase the number of children who can swim 25 metres
by Key Stage 2."
9. The group is due to produce a final report
in December 2001. To date, the main focus for the group has been:
Overall Swimming Strategy.
Continuing Professional Development
and Training of teachers and adults other than teachers (AOTTS)
including national governing body training schemes.
10. A number of other initiatives already
support swimming in schools.
11. School sport co-ordinators will provide
opportunities for young people to compete regularly for their
school and take part in a wide range of sports including swimming.
In total there will be 250 families established with up to 6,000
primary schools benefiting directly from this programme. By 2004,
1,000 School Sports Co-ordinators will be established in communities
of greatest need, based in families of schools linked wherever
possible through LEAs to Specialist Sports Colleges. There are
currently 372 co-ordinators in post, with 600 planned by July,
12. Teachers in primary schools are not
usually PE specialists. We recognise the need to support them.
We will have 6,000 primary schools involved in the school sports
co-ordinators programme in three years time, and teachers will
have opportunities for training and sharing resources of secondaries,
including sports colleges. Although the precise role of School
Sports Co-ordinators is a local issue, we are confident that swimming
will be an important aspect of this initiative.
13. Sports Colleges are, of course, free
to offer swimming to their pupils and to pupils from their partner
schools using Sports College funding should they decide that it
is a local priority. There are currently 101 colleges in 68 LEAs.
Sports Colleges receive £100,000 capital grant to enhance
the school's facilities for physical education and sport. Over
a four-year period, they receive additional recurrent funding
of £123 per pupil up to 1,000 pupils. They also receive £123
per pupil of recurrent funding for every pupil on roll over 1,200
pupils. Decisions about spending priorities are a matter for individual
14. Twelve of the 34 independent/state school
partnerships funded this year (financial year 2001-02) focus on
seven of these are general sport
projects aimed at increasing participation in Sport, one of which
specifically seeks to broaden opportunities in swimming (and trampolining);
the remaining five projects focus
on identifying and supporting pupils with particular talent in
sport. These all involve a specialist sports college and will
also work with Youth Sport Trust and national coaching bodies
across a range of sports, so may involve some swimming.
15. Sixty-five local education authorities
were invited to submit proposals for capital funding to improve
sports and arts facilities in primary schools through the Space
for Sport and Arts programme. Although they were eligible to do
so, none of the local education authorities submitted final proposals
which related to swimming facilities. This is probably because
programme funding is limited to £0.5 million per project
and because of the high running costs associated with pools.
FUND PE AND
16. NOFs PE and Sport Programme will provide
£581 million for the improvement of school sport facilities
in England. Decisions on taking forward individual projects will
be for local partnerships lead by the local education authority
to determine. It is open to such partnerships to invest in swimming
facilities if they decide that is where the greatest need lies.
17. Local authorities continue to be the
principal providers of swimming facilities in England and indeed
in all parts of the UK. There are currently around 1,400 public
swimming and leisure pools in England. In recent years there has
been a noticeable increase in the number of swimming facilities
operated by the private sector, most of them are integrated within
larger health and leisure clubs. The increasing demand for private
sector facilities is clearly linked to a growing recognition of
the importance of healthier lifestyles, but in some areas it is
clear that growth has also been due to the poor quality of local
18. Around 60 per cent of the entire stock
of local authority swimming facilities were built between the
1960s and early 1980s. Due to a variety of factors, including
poor interior and exterior design and low levels of funds allocated
for maintenance during the facility's lifetime an increasing proportion
of these facilities are now in need of significant capital investment.
The Government believes that it is for local authorities to ensure
that spatial development plans and local sports development policies
reflect the importance of swimming and set aside sufficient investment
to improve or, if necessary, to replace existing facilities. They
should also identify sites for potential new facilities in their
land use plans. However, the Government recognises that swimming
facilities are amongst the most expensive sports facilities to
construct and maintain and that even the most modern of facilities
will usually require a long term commitment from the local authority
to guarantee access for all income groups.
19. The Government is currently revising
Planning Policy Guidance note 17Sport and Recreationand
issued a revised draft for consultation earlier in the year. It
is now considering the responses to that consultation exercise
and awaits with interest the report of the Urban Affairs Select
Committee's recent inquiry on this issue. The provision of indoor
sports facilities which will include swimming pools is covered
by the draft revised PPG and given the intensive use of such facilities
the presumption in planning terms will be for such facilities
to be readily accessible and therefore located in or adjacent
to town or district or neighbourhood centres.
20. The key to provision of swimming facilities
is that local authorities should determinewhether by direct
provision or by private sector or by public private partnershipthat
such facilities are located where there is a proven need. Local
authorities should undertake assessments of need and current provision
as part of their local cultural strategies and/or local development
plan. Increasingly, these plans will need to take much greater
account of the trend towards increased private sector provision.
21. Sport England continue to work closely
with local authorities and are able to offer advice using tools
such as the Facilities Planning Model and on the design and layout
of facilities. Up to September 2001 the Sport England Lottery
Fund has invested £222 million in the development of swimming
facilities making swimming the largest single benefactor of Sports
Lottery Funding to date. This includes the building of the 50
metre pool at Loughborough and grants towards the pools at Bath
and Manchester which form part of the UK Sports Institute (UKSI).
22. The Government is working closely with
Sport England to ensure that opportunities for revitalising facilities
is not lost. The Government wants to encourage local authorities
to look at new and innovative ways of modernising and rebuilding
swimming facilities. DCMs are currently supporting six schemes
under the Private Finance Initiative which include community public
swimming facilities: Sefton, Uttlesford, Amber Valley, Brekland
(three pool refurbishments), Lewisham and Penwith. There are two
further projects at the pre-bid stage.
23. The statutory list of buildings is a
register recording the best of our buildings. A wide variety of
structures are listed but all are judged to be of special architectural
or historic interestthe only criteria on which a decision
can be basedwith the emphasis on national significance.
In determining special interest, age and rarity are important
considerations and among more recent buildings (especially post-1914),
much greater selection is needed to identify the best examples
of particular building types.
24. So far, around 60 public swimming pools
have been judged to meet the criteria, and are included on the
list. If there are proposals to alter, extend or demolish any
of these buildings, listed building consent must be obtained in
addition to any planning permission needed.
25. Grants for repairs to listed buildings
of outstanding interest may be available from English Heritage.
If a listed property is falling badly into disrepair, the local
authority has powers to carry out urgent work to unoccupied buildings
and can serve a repairs notice on the owners of any neglected
property. If the owner fails to comply, the Council can compulsorily
acquire the property.
26. Swimming is a priority Olympic sport
and, as such, is supported by the Government through the provision
of both Lottery and Exchequer funding via the Sports Councils.
The level of funding relates to the World Class Business Plan
submitted by the governing body to the Sports Councils and the
performance results of elite swimmers at major championships.
Funding provided by Government to swimming is considerable and
consists of the following elements:
from 1997 until September 2000 some
£11.2 million has been spent on swimming under the World
Class Performance, Potential and Start Programmes;
£8.5 million has been committed
from October 2000 until March 2005 under the same programmes;
£3.4 million has been committed
under the Disability World Class Performance and Potential Programmes;
£2.7 million has been committed
to diving under the World Class Performance, Potential and Start
Exchequer funding to swimming of
£0.5 million is being provided this year by UK Sport and
27. As well as supporting the training and
development of elite athletes on the programme, Lottery and Exchequer
funding has enabled the appointment of three Performance Directors,
four diving coaches, five swimming coaches, two disabled swimming
coaches and has given grants to a number of regional centres where
athletes on Start and Potential Programmes are based. Swimming
and diving will also have access to the state of the art sports
medicine and sports science services that will be delivered by
the UKSI when it is fully operational at the end of 2002.
28. Prior to Sydney, swimming was classified
as a priority one sport by UK Sport for the purposes of funding.
Following the disappointing results at the 2000 Olympics where
Britain failed to win a medal, swimming became a priority two
sport and its level of funding was cut.
The swimming events at Sydney proved to the
highest standard of competition ever in a major swimming championship
event with a record 15 world records being broken and new Olympic
marks being set in nearly every event.
29. Following the Games the governing body
appointed a new Australian Performance Director, Bill Sweetenham,
who has made radical structural changes to British swimming. In
July 2001 Britain competed in the World Championships in Fukuoma
Japan and won seven medals including their first Gold since 1975.
In addition, British swimmers have broken four world records so
far this year with the European Short Course Championships still
to take place in Antwerp in December.
30. Coaches play a key role in motivating
and equipping others to succeed. That applies to the school playground,
the local playing fields as well as at major international events.
To build for success, therefore, the Government recognises that
there is a need to develop and support coaches. We also need to
encourage more people to enter the profession at all levels and
to create a more robust coaching structurea structure that
starts at the grass roots level and provides a clear pathway all
the way up to the elite.
31. It is with this in mind that the Government
has established a Coaching Task Force. The Task Force is drawn
from a variety of organisations involved with sport and coach
education. It has a remit to:
review the structures and provision
of coach education;
conduct an international benchmarking
develop proposals on how to improve
the structure of coaching as a profession.
32. The group will report their findings
to Ministers next March. The recommendations are likely to be
relevant to a wide range of sports, including swimming.