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Swimming Instruction and Water Safety Education

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all school swimming and water safety programs meet the Victorian Curriculum F–10 and provide students with the knowledge and confidence to participate in aquatic activities.

Summary

  • From 2017, the Victorian Curriculum F–10 has required swimming and water safety education to be taught as part of the Health and Physical Education learning area.
  • By the end of Year 6, it is anticipated that students should be able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills identified in the Victorian Water Safety Certificate.
  • Information on managing risk and conducting programs safely can be found in the Excursions Policy, with specific guidance on swimming activities in the Excursions Guidelines chapter Adventure Activities.

Details

This policy applies to programs which have the purpose of teaching swimming and water safety as part of the school curriculum. For information on risk management in relation to swimming and water safety education as well as other water activities such as recreational swimming, surfing, canoeing and boating, refer to the Excursions Policy, with specific guidance on swimming activities in the Excursions Guidelines chapter Adventure Activities.

Swimming and water safety is included in the Health and Physical Education curriculum from Foundation to Level 10. This requires schools to ensure that they are implementing a swimming and water safety program that meets the requirements of the curriculum.

Individual schools are expected to make decisions about how to best incorporate swimming and water safety into their school programs, based on factors such as access to safe swimming facilities/locations, qualified instructors and their broader learning program.

To help build schools’ swimming and water safety programs, the Department has collaborated with Life Saving Victoria (LSV) in developing a School Swimming and Water Safety Toolkit, which provides a full suite of information on:

Curriculum requirements

The Victorian Curriculum F–10 outlines what every student in Victorian government schools should learn as part of Health and Physical Education during their first eleven years of schooling.

The Health and Physical Education curriculum includes four focus areas with specific reference to swimming and water safety which schools are required to teach:

  • Fundamental movement skills (FMS) — Develop foundation movement and skills to enable students to participate in a range of physical activities. For example, floating and moving the body through water.
  • Safety (S) — Practise behaviours and skills to keep themselves and others safe in and around water. For example, sun safety, use of protective equipment and first aid.
  • Lifelong physical activities (LPA) — Understand that swimming can enhance lifelong health-related fitness and wellbeing.
  • Challenge and adventure activities (CA) — Participate in challenging swimming activities in a range of contexts. For example, triathlon, diving, water polo.

The Victorian Water Safety Certificate is a Victorian Government initiative, which describes specific competencies that should be achieved by the end of primary school. These competencies identify the knowledge and skills to enable students to safely enjoy water-based activities in calm and shallow aquatic environments. The competencies focus on water safety knowledge, rescue skills, survival sequences and the ability to swim a continuous distance of 50 metres.

Further detail about the requirements for swimming and water safety can be found in the Victorian Curriculum on VCAA website and in the School Swimming and Water Safety Toolkit on the LSV website.

Progression Model and achievement levels

The Department, with LSV and VCAA, has developed the Sample Swimming and Water Safety F–10 Progression Model. This Model defines the swimming and water safety competencies expected to be achieved by students by the end of each level in the curriculum.

The two strands within the Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education are:

  1. Personal, Social and Community Health and Movement
  2. Physical Activity

The Model has organised each competency from the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework, as well as the content descriptions from the Victorian Curriculum, into these two curriculum strands.

Each level in the Model reflects the content outlined in the Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education and the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework.

Designing and delivering swimming and water safety programs

Funding for swimming in schools is delivered to Victorian government schools via the Student Resource Package.

The Swimming in Schools initiative provides funding for the delivery of quality swimming and water safety education. Please refer to the Parent Payments Policy for more information.

The Victorian Curriculum F–10 is structured as a continuum across levels of learning achievement, which enables the development of targeted learning programs for all students that can be delivered with a range of classroom-based lessons together with in-pool swimming lessons across the year levels.

As the achievement level of swimming and water safety for students varies across school year levels, swimming programs should allow students to participate at the level appropriate to their individual learning needs. For example, the minimum achievement level anticipated by the end of Year 6 is the Victorian Water Safety Certificate, however, if students achieve their certificate prior to the end of Year 6 then curriculum should be delivered as appropriate to their learning needs beyond that. For more information refer to the Sample Swimming and Water Safety F–10 Progression Model.

Victorian government schools can also elect to deliver separate, extra-curricular swimming programs that are in addition to the school’s swimming program, such as swimming carnivals, surf camps and training for competitions, which schools can provide on an optional, user-pays basis.

Case studies of various schools’ swimming programs provide examples of cost-effective ways of delivering swimming programs in line with the Victorian Curriculum and are available on the LSV website:

  • St James Primary School, Vermont: A video of a metropolitan school that shows how the school successfully varies swimming venues to cater to the different competencies and learning needs of students.
  • Loch Sport Primary School: A video of a regional school with small class numbers that has developed a swimming program that is time and cost effective and successfully engages with parents.
  • Airly Primary School: A written case study of a regional school with small class numbers and no nearby aquatic facilities, that uses transportation and funding effectively.
  • Clayton South Primary School: A written case study of a metropolitan and culturally diverse school that effectively engages with parents to ensure understanding of the importance of the swimming program, which is adjusted for varying competencies.
  • Skipton Primary School: A written case study of a regional school that delivers its own swimming and water safety programs annually with AUSTSWIM qualified teachers and parents, and shows how timetabling and these cost effective measures contribute to the program’s delivery.
  • St Thomas Primary School: A written case study of a regional Catholic school and their partnership approach with the aquatic facility that results in 85% of Year 6 students attaining the Victorian Water Safety Certificate, which is celebrated by the whole school.

The VCAA has developed sample swimming and water safety activities for Foundation to Level 10. These resources include land-based and water-based activities which can be included in school swimming and water safety programs.

In addition to these swimming and water safety activities, examples of assessment strategies for swimming and water safety have also been outlined by VCAA for each of the Levels. Refer to:

To further assist schools in the development of individual school swimming and water safety programs, an online interactive options tool as well as a poster can be found in the School Swimming and Water Safety Toolkit.

Funding

Schools are funded through the Student Resource Package (SRP) to deliver the Victorian Curriculum, including swimming and water safety which is part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum. Funding provided for swimming and water safety education must be used to deliver F–10 swimming and water safety instruction for students.

Expenditure will be tracked against the Swimming in Schools CASES 21 code.

More information is provided in the SRP Targeted Initiatives Guidance on Swimming in School (reference 115).

Department policy on school swimming and water safety education

Reviewed 12 August 2021

Policy last updated

12 August 2021

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

Targeted School Services Unit Statewide Services Branch, Schools Operations and Statewide Services Division

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