Swimming success in school 

Photo of children outside Farnworth Pool
Youngsters from St Catherine's Academy celebrating their swimming success

A swimming scheme at Bolton’s leisure centres has more than tripled the pass rate at Key Stage 2 in one local school.

Year Six pupils at St Catherine’s Academy have made fantastic progress in improving their swimming abilities, thanks to the Third Teacher initiative.

The scheme is funded by Bolton Community Leisure Trust (BCLT), which is responsible for the borough’s six swimming pools.

At the start of the 2010 school year BCLT, in partnership with Bolton Council and Serco, assessed the swimming ability of all pupils aged 10 and 11 at KS2.

Many pupils were either unable to swim, had low levels of water confidence or had never visited a swimming pool.

As swimming skills are essential at KS2 level – they introduce water safety and educate children about the dangers of playing near open water – BCLT provided additional support via the Third Teacher scheme.

The scheme reduces the pupil/teacher ratio and offers support directly to pupils who need it most.

Thanks to the efforts of Year Six teacher Christopher Hill and Third Teacher Debbie McNeil, pupils at St Catherine’s Academy recorded the greatest improvement in the borough.

Pupils raised their swimming pass rate at KS2 level from 27 per cent in 2010 to 88 per cent in 2011.

Mr Hill said: “For many pupils it was the first time they had been to a swimming pool but the support they received quickly helped them to overcome any fears they had so they could join in, improve their confidence, learn to swim and have fun.

“Debbie’s commitment to raising achievement is exceptional and very much appreciated by everyone.”

Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services and Safeguarding, Councillor Nick Peel, said: “Many children are not doing enough exercise to keep fit and are at risk of developing long term health problems. The Third Teacher initiative helps tackle this and we are delighted by the results so far.”

Bolton Community Leisure Trust chairman, Dave Singleton, said: “The Third Teacher initiative is paying dividends for schools, delivering substantial increases in swimming attainment for pupils. As one of the best forms of exercise, swimming is not only good for fitness but is great fun too. Our thanks go to all our partners, the schools taking part and especially the teachers who make all the difference.”

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Karen Spibey
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