East Renfrewshire make waves with new water safety strategy

More than 6,800 children are expected to undergo lessons this year as  East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure [ERCL] rolls out various swimming initiatives

A LIFESAVING series of water safety lessons for young people are to be offered year-round as part of an ambitious drowning prevention drive in East Renfrewshire.

More than 6,800 children are expected to undergo lessons this year, with East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure [ERCL] rolling out various swimming initiatives including a six week holiday programme and free summer swim sessions to help prevent young people swimming in unsupervised water spaces, while also expanding its existing school swimming sessions.

Crucially, the water safety lessons will also be incorporated into the highly-successful Learn to Swim framework from Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water –  which aims to create a generational legacy for the nation and which has already helped more than 106,000 youngsters to be more confident, safer and competent swimmers.

Staff within ERCL hope the new strategy will reach children of all ages across its four venues – Barrhead Foundry, Eastwood Park Leisure Centre, Neilston Leisure Centre and Eastwood High Leisure Centre. 

Robert Hammond from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure explained: “We are supporting swimmers in developing confidence, knowledge and competence in the water throughout the year.” 

“Water safety will feature as part of our intensive swimming lessons during our six-week summer holiday programme for the first time this year and we also aim to build water safety awareness into our annual Learn to Swim programme moving forward.”

“Our swimming development team are working with the Active Schools’ team, offering swimming sessions for primary four pupils who have signed up to the programme, as well as water safety awareness sessions in classrooms and assemblies across all primary schools in East Renfrewshire.” 

The six-week holiday programme expects to see 1,510 attendees across the summer for an intense week of learning with drowning prevention lessons covered every Friday. 

Resuming after the summer break, ERCL’s school swimming scheme has so far secured 25 out of 25 schools in the area which is an 11.9% increase compared to 2020 as every school has indicated that they wish to be included. It will also welcome a private school and additional needs school to the scheme for the first time. This will see over 1,300 attendees across all schools.

The scheme will see primary four pupils attend weekly sessions. The aim of the school programme is for each child to become water confident and develop core aquatic skills, including: – safe entries and exits, submerging and aquatic breathing, floatation and rotation, streamlining and propulsion and sculling and Treading Water

ERCL is also working in collaboration with the council to align its activity to the Curriculum for Excellence. It is also on the agenda to deliver water safety learnings as part of assembly’s to continue the conversation out of the pool.  

Mark Ratter, Director of Education at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “We’re pleased to support the next generation of swimmers through our schools with the help of the team at East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure.”

“Swimming is a life skill and water safety awareness is a vital part of learning. The curriculum for excellence will be embedded in the new East Renfrewshire Swimming Programme, allowing pupils to develop water confidence and core aquatic skills in a fun and safe learning environment.” 

Every 10 weeks water safety lessons will be delivered as part of the Learn to Swim and coaches will adapt lessons to include key guidance such as the Water Safety Code and basic skills like floating which is needed to survive in cold water.

The national Learn to Swim programme was developed to help children of all abilities to become confident, safer and competent swimmers.

The next chapter of Learn to Swim is to build a real legacy for Scotland – improving water safety, and, through working with schools and local authorities, giving all children a real platform for success and to achieve their full potential in the pool and out.

Over the first four years of the Learn to Swim partnership, it has provided lessons to around 106,000 kids. It aims to reach another 100,000 kids by 2025. 

More information on the Learn to Swim Framework can be found on the dedicated website:  https://learntoswim.scot/

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