Water Safety (Curriculum) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:02 pm on 19 May 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Sater Baroness Sater Conservative 2:02, 19 May 2023

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for allowing me to speak in the gap today. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for bringing the Bill to the House. I will speak very briefly, and I refer to my relevant interests in the register.

We have heard, very powerfully, that learning to swim is an essential life skill and saves lives. We know that PE is a statutory requirement in primary schools, and within that there is a component on swimming and water safety. We have heard quite a lot about that today, so I will not go into any more detail. I support fellow noble Lords in requesting more information from my noble friend the Minister on data and recording.

I want to bring up one important issue. I stress the increased risks and concerns surrounding the economic challenges facing pool facilities, which are leading to the closure of pools and leisure centres. We must acknowledge and welcome the recent funding that the Government have given to support swimming pools with their increased energy costs. However, there are still the ongoing pressures of the costs of transporting children to and from swimming pools, their lessons and hiring the pools, which have all substantially increased since the cost of living crisis. I would be most grateful to hear my noble friend’s thoughts about how we keep and maintain the facilities and keep the costs down for the many schools that are struggling.

We must make sure not only that these swimming lessons and the life skills that we have all talked about are prioritised within every primary school’s PE and sport premium funding but that the increased help and guidance to access appropriate funds are given where needed. School pool facilities must be made available, however difficult this is, to all primary schools so that these essential swimming lessons are delivered.

I said I would be very brief, so I finish by agreeing with everyone here today that no child or adult should ever come to harm from not being able to swim. I hope that the Government continue to find effective and workable solutions to ensure that every child leaving primary school can swim and self-rescue.