Every child able to swim

Our plans to increase swimming & water safety across Oxfordshire

In Oxfordshire, we are surrounded by waterways however only 65% of our County's children can swim 25 metres by age 11 with only 55% of children being able to perform self-rescue by age 11. Even more worryingly, in our most disadvantaged areas, only 25% of children are able to swim. A recent report funded by Swim England shows that nationally, due to the impact of COVID-19 and school closures, 240,000 fewer children will be able to swim 25 metres by the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

This has to change. Here's what we are doing about it:

Upcoming events: increasing swimming & water safety

Active Oxfordshire would like to invite you to attend the Oxfordshire Swimming and Water Safety summit on 10th November, 3.00pm – 4.30pm which will be co-hosted with Cllr Mark Lygo, OCC Cabinet Member for Public Health & Inequalities. This virtual event will include the following:

  • The Oxfordshire Context – Swimming inequalities in Oxfordshire
  • Keynote speaker: Brendon Prince, Above Water & The Long Paddle
    Brendon has recently returned from circumnavigating 4000km around mainland Britain by Stand up Paddleboard. In doing so, he set 5 World Records, came face to face with Orcas, and made over 8 million paddle strokes to raise awareness of Water Safety. Brendon will share his insights as a teacher, lifeguard and founder of Above Water as well as sharing what is available to Oxfordshire schools.
  • Good practise examples from Oxfordshire with opportunity for questions, and discussion on actions & next steps.

With such large inequalities in swimming in Oxfordshire, we want to share the great work that is now underway in our schools and community settings.

To find out more and book a place, please email joshlenthall@activeoxfordshire.org

Screening of Blacks Can't Swim: the sequel

On Friday 29th October at 6pm, we held a screening of Blacks Can't Swim: The Sequel in partnership with Oxford Hub. This event was the starting point for an ongoing, important discussion about current inequalities and how we can address them together. Here's a snapshot of what people said on the evening:

We need free swimming lessons for early years e.g. ages 3 onwards

Lessons at swimming pools need to be cheaper with better funding

I have never seen a black swimming teacher or lifeguard. How can we change this?

How we are tackling inequalities in swimming & water safety:

  • Active Oxfordshire is committing £10,000 of Sport England funding for catch up Year 7 Swimming aimed at those children who missed out on Swimming during Year 6. This is being delivered alongside School Games Organisers across the County.
  • Above Water have been commissioned by Active Oxfordshire to work with 50 Primary Schools with lower swimming attainment figures to unpick the challenges they face and support staff to be confident constructing and delivering their Swimming and Water safety curriculum https://abovewater.org/
  • The Ready Set Go project in Oxford, led by Oxford Hub, is working in partnership with Radley College and many local partners to provide opportunities for young people from East Oxford to learn to swim where they have missed the mainstream offers available https://www.oxfordhub.org/ready-set-go
  • Government funded Holiday Activity Food programme (HAF) provision and Opening School Facilities funding from Sport England will also be used to provide opportunities to our young people to learn to swim and be safe near water over the course of this Summer.
  • The FAST programme in Cherwell has provided heavily subsidised swimming to families across the District as well as working with Legacy Leisure to tackle cultural barriers that Muslim women face to swimming
Sara Fernandez (CEO, Oxford Hub) said:

Through our community work with children and families we have learned about the challenges of learning how to swim, particularly for those who are most economically disadvantaged. We are excited to be working with Active Oxfordshire, Radley College and other partners across the city to make swimming more accessible to families and ensure those less likely to learn are offered support that fits perfectly around their needs.

To partner with us and help ensure that every child in Oxfordshire is able to swim and be safe near water, please contact Josh Lenthall, Strategic CYP Relationship Manager: joshlenthall@activeoxfordshire.org

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