Case Study – Water Safety

Every Child A Successful Swimmer

The Royal Lifesaving Society Drowning Facts | Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) explains that:

    • only 30 per cent of adults surveyed that they are ‘very confident’ that their child knows how to stay safe in and around water
    • on average 312 people in the UK and Ireland lose their life to accidental drowning every year
    • around two thirds of the UK adults surveyed have never had any formal training or education in water safety
    • 47 per cent of those that lost their life to accidental drowning in the UK never intended to be in the water
    • 47 per cent of accidental drownings occur between May and August

    So, teaching children about water safety forms a very important part of Sheffield School Swimming Service Curriculum.

    As part of the National Curriculum requirements pupils should be able to perform a self-safe rescue in different water-based situation before they finish primary school. Due to water safety being a key part of what we do, we felt it was important that we work closely with schools to deliver the message of how to stay safe in and around water.

    A Water Safety Scheme of Work with 20 stand-alone water safety lessons, all of which can be taught in the classroom by school teachers and linked to other curriculum areas such as Literacy, Science or PSHE has been developed and tested by Jo Searle at Phillimore Primary School. We are aware that many other Sheffield primary schools are already delivering the water safety lessons set out in the Scheme of Work.

    Jo Searle from Phillimore Community Primary School and Aimi Broadhead from St John Fisher Catholic Primary School told us how and when they deliver this at school, and the impact it has on the pupils.

    Which lesson plans do you use?

    Phillimore Community Primary School

    This depends on the timetable and can vary from year to year. In 2020 due to Covid and bubbles, I had to reduce the number of classes I worked with. So rather than teaching all classes PE, I had to increase the time I spent with a few classes. This meant I had to teach classroom-based lessons which is when I devised the Water Safety Scheme of Work. Each week the Year 5’s received one-hour of Water Safety.

    At a recent visit to the Scarborough RNLI, the staff commented on how knowledgeable our Year 6 children were on water safety. The children could confidently name the different types of beach flags as well as what to do if they found themselves in trouble in the water. One child commented “You need to float and make a star shape”. The children were proud to tell staff members about the lessons they had taken in school.

    The school Headteacher mentioned that the children were also able to recall the number to phone should someone need rescuing and were knowledgeable about what to do should a dog need rescuing – ‘don’t go in’! This time is unlikely ever to be repeated. However, it is about being flexible and spotting opportunities (even if just for 20 minutes) and picking out key messages.

    St John Fisher Catholic Primary School

    We use all the lessons from the water safety scheme of work available on the Learn Sheffield website.

    How and when do you fit the lessons into the school day?

    Phillimore Community Primary School

    Currently the first Year 4 class going swimming have an early dinner to ensure they are ready for the bus at 12:15. They go into dinner before Foundation Stage 2 which means they have finished their dinner by 11:45. The half hour in the classroom is usefully used to cover aspects of water safety. I have also covered water safety on the bus but with the current double decker and splitting the children top and lower deck this is harder to manage. While the children are sitting on poolside waiting for the swimming teachers to start the lesson, I go over aspects of water safety we’ve learnt in the classroom e.g., test them on the meaning of beach flags. Sometimes, I’m asked to cover a class, so this is also an opportunity or when there is no swimming for whatever reason.

    I don’t have a class but for class teachers to find time within the PSHE curriculum on safety is another opportunity.

    St John Fisher Catholic Primary School

    We deliver the water safety lessons the hour before we go swimming on a Wednesday.

    St John Fisher Water Safety Scenario
    Pupils from St John Fisher acting out a scenario – one child was drowning, two were finding objects to help them float whilst someone rang 999 or 112 for help.

    Do you use any of the resources as homework i.e., the colouring sheets?

    Phillimore Community Primary School

    I use the videos and resources sheets related to the key messages I have chosen to teach when there is limited time:

    • Difference between outdoor water and swimming pools – reasons not to go in and what to do in an emergency
    • Recognising danger signs and flags
    • Float to Live – it’s important for the children to understand why they practise floating on their backs so often

    St John Fisher Catholic Primary School

    We’ve sent some colouring sheets home on the Friday, after the lesson.

    What have you enjoyed and what have you learnt?

    When pupils from both schools were asked what they enjoy about the water safety lessons and what they have learnt, they said…

    Case Study - Water Safety

    Our aim is to work closely with key partners to ensure pupils in Sheffield can enjoy water safety, and learn how to keep themselves, their families, and friends safe and to know what to do in an emergency. You can read further information on Water Safety.