Updated Swimming Policy Clarification – Teacher Pupil Ratios and Safe
Supervision, including Lifeguarding
Following some recent concerns regarding school swimming in Bucks, it has been brought to our
attention that some school staff are unclear as to the ratios they should be working to during their
school swimming lessons. Whilst the Bucks Safe Practice in School Swimming Policy (September
2012) details the recommended ASA ratio guidance (see below), it appears that this has been
misinterpreted by some schools and is leaving them vulnerable.
As such, we are providing you with clear recommendations from National Governing Bodies.
Schools are advised to work within these guidelines.
Amateur Swimming Association Guidelines
The ratios outlined below are guidelines set by the Amateur Swimming Association for swimming
Teachers holding an ASA/UKCC Level 2 Certificate for Teaching Aquatics Qualification.
These ratios should only be used for guidance when writing risk assessments, Normal
Operating Procedures and Emergency Action Plans and other factors need to be taken into
account, including competency and experience of the Swimming Teacher, lifeguard
provision (if the Teacher is also taking on the role of the lifeguard), design of the pool and
ability of the pupils.
The following applies to UKCC Level 2 ASA (or equivalent) Swimming Teachers:
Adult and baby groups 12:1
One Teacher to twelve pairs of adults and babies/toddlers under the age of five
Non-swimmers and beginners 12:1
Young children, normally primary school age or adults being introduced to swimming who are
unable to swim 10m unaided on their front and back
Children under the age of 7 12:1
Irrespective of their swimming ability, group size should be restricted
Mandy Carey
February 2014
Improving swimmers 20:1
Swimmers of a similar ability to each other who can swim at least 10m competently and
unaided on their back and on their front. It is recommended that the lessons be confined to an
area in which the children are not out of their depth
Mixed ability groups 20:1
Pupils with a range of ability (from improving to competent) where the least able and least
confident are working well within their depth. Swimmers techniques, stamina and deep water
experience should be considered
Competent swimmers 20:1
Those swimmers who can swim at least 25m competently and unaided on front and back and
can tread water for 2 minutes
Competitive swimmers 30:1
Training only with very competent swimmers
Swimmers with disabilities-various
Each situation must be considered individually as people with disabilities are not a
homogeneous group. Care must be taken to ensure that there are sufficient helpers in the
water to provide 1:1 ratio for those needing constant support and a sufficient number of other
helpers to provide the degree of support required by the range of disabilities within the group.
Individual risk assessments must be undertaken so that the Teacher in charge of swimmers
with disabilities can be aware of the particular needs of each child.
As it states, where schools are taking children who are beginners, unable to swim 10M
unaided on their front or back, which is often the reality, the ratio becomes 12:1 and schools
will therefore need to employ additional qualified swimming teachers to work safely within these
ratios. As many school classes have a number of beginner swimmers, most leisure providers in
Bucks are now enforcing a 12:1 ratio as policy.
Further clarification has been sought from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and from The
Association for Physical Education (AfPE) January 2014:
Mandy Carey
February 2014
The absolute upper limit for a qualified ASA UKCC Level 2 (or equivalent) teacher in School
Swimming is 20:1 (owing to the mixed ability of the group). Emphasis was made that this will need
to be lower depending on the Risk Assessment; e.g. age, ability, special needs and where
schools are taking children who are beginners, unable to swim 10M unaided on their front
or back (see ASA guidance).
Leisure Provider pools work within the above national governing body ratio guidelines. The Bucks
Safe Practice in School Swimming Policy requires school staff with ASA Module 1 qualification to
assist leisure provider qualified swimming teachers (whilst still working under the above ratios
and the guidance of the Level 2 Swimming Teacher.
The ASA recommended that Module 1 school staff work with a maximum of 3 pupils, again
dependent on confidence, competence and risk assessments, under the guidance and
supervision of the qualified Level 2 Swimming Teacher and within the ASA recommended
Schools may well need to employ another qualified Swimming Teacher to meet these ratios.
Secondary School Specialist Physical Education teachers who are Module 1 qualified, will have
experience of working practically with groups, many will have had some swimming training during
their courses and thus (dependent on Risk Assessment – confidence and competency) are able to
work with another Module 1 qualified Secondary Physical Education teacher to deliver school
swimming, within nationally recognised safe ratios. In addition, they will need to meet the minimum
requirements for Lifeguards as outlined within the Bucks Safe Practice in School Swimming Policy.
Some key points arising from discussions with AfPE:
Firstly, there should never be only one pair of ‘qualified eyes’ (a qualified ASA Level 2 or
equivalent swimming teacher or lifeguard) on poolside. Whilst teachers have organisational
and teaching experience, along with knowledge of their pupils, most will have ‘unqualified eyes’ in
terms of spotting pupils in difficulty in the water. The swimming pool is a totally different
environment from school settings. Therefore, if the Swimming Teacher is also the Lifeguard, there
should be an additional qualified Swimming Teacher on poolside.
Other important factors
Schools using leisure providers must work in partnership to assist the qualified pool staff, within the
ratios outlined by the ASA (outlined above; see also Bucks Safe Practice in School Swimming
Policy, pages 21 - 23).
It is vital that schools work with their Leisure Providers and hold discussions (preferably induction
visits) before the start of their first school swimming lesson. A Risk Assessment must be
undertaken and the following information must be shared with the Leisure Provider:
Mandy Carey
February 2014
- numbers, age, ability of pupils
- the activities they will be undertaking
- the qualifications of the staff accompanying and assisting in the lesson
- the qualifications of the Leisure Provider Swimming Teacher/s
- known medical conditions/support needs
This information may change on a weekly basis and therefore needs to be updated every
lesson (informs the Risk Assessment) and fed back to the Swimming Teacher/s at the pool
before the start of each lesson.
Q. Why do Bucks require school staff to undertake the Module 1
A. There are a number of reasons for this:
It provides school staff with an understanding of their role and responsibilities before, during
and after school swimming lessons (including risk assessments)
School teachers have a Duty of Care for their pupils, thus need to be involved (also
assessment and reporting)
Swimming is a statutory part of National Curriculum Physical Education and as such school
staff need to be involved in its delivery and outcomes (including assessment)
It provides practical ideas for school staff to enable them to assist during school swimming
lessons, developing staff confidence and competence
It enables these ratios to be reduced further (within ASA Ratios), enabling a quality
experience for pupils and greater progress
School teachers know their pupils and how to get the best from them - they are trained
teachers and as such will be able to organise activities/bring PE and other curriculum areas
into the water
The importance of partnership working (i.e. discussing the programme with the Leisure
Provider/qualified swimming teacher) is emphasised to ensure the best quality swimming
programme suited to the needs of the pupils
The course outlines the requirements of National Curriculum for Swimming, along with links
to the PE Curriculum (in order to inform those leisure providers unfamiliar with these
The Association of Physical Education 2012 Edition( AfPE) state:
‘Where specialist swimming teachers are employed to lead the lesson, it is essential that
school staff remain on poolside to provide an assisting role’
The following table provides a basic overview of the modules and units. The Bucks Safe Practice
in School Swimming 2012 Policy requires school staff to complete a minimum of Module 1, unit 1 to
Mandy Carey
February 2014
accompany pupils to school swimming. Unit 2, which completes the Module 1 Certificate, is
strongly recommended, rather than waiting to undertake Unit 1 within the next 2 years (as
requested within the policy).
Module 1
Unit 1
This needs to be updated
every two years unless staff
progress on to Unit 2 (see
Outline of what’s covered
Swimming and water safety
as part of the NC - a range of
practical ideas for school
swimming lessons
Roles and responsibilities
How to develop water
School staff to work with up to
3 pupils under the guidance of
the qualified swimming
teacher (ensuring a risk
assessment has been
completed), within ASA
recommended ratios
Demonstrate the range of
resources and equipment
Health and safety
Safeguarding and protecting
Unit 2
This completes the Module 1
and means that currently
school staff do not need to retake Unit 1 or 2; they will also
hold a National Governing
Body Certificate and can
progress onto Module 2…
Module 2
Unit 3
How to introduce the
swimming strokes
Organisation of the learning
Exploring FUNdamentals
Planning and delivery of a
short session in small groups
(provides candidates with a
range of session ideas by the
end of the course)
School staff to work with up to
3 pupils under the guidance of
the qualified swimming
teacher (ensuring a risk
assessment has been
completed), within ASA
recommended ratios
Outline of what’s covered
Candidates consider what
constitutes effective
performance of FUNdamental
skills and methods to bring
about improvement
Development of additional
skills appropriate to those
working at this level
Consider the use of games as
an aid to learning
planning and programming
Upon completion of Module 2,
school staff can work with up
to 8 pupils
Development of knowledge in
Stroke Technique
Unit 4
Mandy Carey
Basic technical aspects
related to the alternating
February 2014
QTS school teacher and
HLTA are then qualified to
progress straight onto the
ASA Level 2 UKCC Teaching
Aquatics course
TA’s are able to go on to ASA
Level 1 UKCC Course (or
prove competent through prior
knowledge) to progress onto
the ASA Level 2 UKCC
Teaching Aquatics Course
Faults and causes
Progressive practices
Stroke analysis
Unit 5
Basic technical aspects
related to the simultaneous
Faults and causes
Progressive practices
Q. What are the benefits of using the Government PE Funding for
training school staff to Module 2?
A. Qualified Module 2 school staff will:
Be able to take larger group of between 4 – 8 pupils; thus lowering ratios of other groups
Development of knowledge in Stroke Technique; therefore a better quality of experience for
Understand stroke faults and be able to correct these thus enabling faster progress
Have developed their knowledge in progressive practices
Be able to progress straight to ASA Level 2 UKCC Teaching Aquatics Course (*see notes in
above table)
How will Schools Fund additional Specialists for School Swimming
OFSTED Annex A provides examples of effective use of PE and sport
It is up to schools to determine how best to use this additional funding. Some examples of
how schools are intending to use this funding include:
employing specialist PE teachers or qualified coaches to work alongside teachers in
lessons to increase their subject knowledge and confidence in PE (Additional Swimming
providing cover staff to release teachers for professional development in PE and sport
(Module 2 qualification)
procuring quality-assured professional training for staff to raise their confidence and
competence in teaching PE and sport (Module 2 qualification)
Mandy Carey
February 2014
paying staff or external sports coaches to run competitions, or to increase pupils’
participation in national school games competitions – (Level 2 Swimming Galas)
engaging the least active pupils in after school activities, for example ‘Change4Life’ after
school clubs (Swimming Top Up sessions)
paying for transport, pool hire and instruction to provide additional swimming lessons for
those pupils unable to swim by the end of Year 6
providing extra, additional activities such as outdoor and adventurous activities (i.e.
additional swimming lessons to develop Self Rescue Skills)
If you have any concerns or questions about your school swimming programme, please contact
Mandy Carey, Bucks Learning Trust School Aquatic Consultant:
[email protected]
Tel. 01296383837
Mandy Carey
February 2014
Mandy Carey
February 2014

the qualifications of the Leisure Provider Swimming Teacher/s