Home Page

Serving the whole community

Safety, Learning and Respect - our three values. Thornhill Primary School is proud to be part of the West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust. 'Safeguarding given the highest priority' ( OFSTED 2019)


It is essential that during all school swimming sessions at least one member of the school staff is in attendance.  This is in addition to at least one other adult.  One member of school staff must be nominated as the Group leader who will have overall responsibility for the safety and welfare of the pupils whilst they are off site. The Group Leader must be competent to lead the group in a safe manner. 


The Group Leader is responsible for:


  • ensuring the delivery of the school swimming programme in accordance with national curriculum requirements;
  • assessing the competency of accompanying adults;
  • checking the numbers of pupils before, during and after sessions;
  • ensuring that all pupils are able to be seen by an accompanying adult throughout the swimming session;
  • checking the pool immediately after the session to ensure all bathers have left the water.
  • ensuring that they are fully aware of when the handover of responsibility to/from the Lead Swimming Teacher takes place;
  • teaching or assisting the teaching of swimming from the poolside;
  • ensuring normal and emergency procedures are enforced;
  • ensuring arrangements are in place to enable pupils to change safely and sensibly;
  • ensuring pupils waiting for their swimming lesson are under control;
  • alerting the lifeguard/instructor immediately if a pupil is in difficulty;
  • ensuring that non participants are appropriately supervised;
  • ensuring all staff are appropriately dressed for pool area conditions;
  • ensuring the swimming pool has an emergency action plan in place and all staff are familiar with these arrangements.


School Staff Member/Adult Helper/Observer


It is highly recommended that, in addition to the Lead Swimming Teacher/Instructor, school staff member and lifeguard, there are observers in the pool area i.e. one observer per group in the pool.


In order to comply with DfES advice, it is strongly recommended that observers have a full (enhanced) Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check and in any cases where observers are likely to have unsupervised access to children (i.e. without the school staff member being present) a full (enhanced) CRB check must be undertaken.


Responsible for:


  • assisting the Group Leader in order to achieve the above;
  • acting as an observer on the poolside where required to do so by the Group Leader;
  • providing swimming teaching to a group of pupils.


Lead Swimming Teacher/Instructor


These persons are specialists in the teaching of swimming and hold recognised swimming qualifications.  They are normally:


  • resident LEA swimming teachers who are based at a school or public pool;
  • qualified class teachers who, in addition to their professional qualification hold a specialist swimming award.  They normally assume responsibility for the supervision and teaching of swimming to groups of pupils from their own school;
  • LEA approved specialist supply swimming teachers;
  • qualified teachers of swimming who are employed by a District/Borough Council and recommended by them to teach pupils in schools;
  • adult Education Services swimming tutors who are qualified to teach swimming to adults and others.


Responsible for:


  • assisting the School Swimming Co-ordinator with the planning delivering and monitoring of school swimming;
  • ensuring that all LEA guidelines and local procedures, i.e. normal and emergency procedures, are being adhered to throughout the swimming session;
  • identifying specific groups for each swimming session and allocating these groups to the accompanying school staff/adult helpers;
  • clearly stating to the school staff member/other adult when responsibility is transferred to/from the school staff member/other adult;
  • entering the water and rescuing a pupil in difficulty, administering first aid where required;
  • making themselves familiar with any emergency equipment provided;
  • checking the pool immediately after the session to ensure all bathers have left the water.





Responsible for:


  • being familiar with and ensuring the pool normal and emergency procedures are enforced;
  • maintaining constant observation of the pool and pool users in order to anticipate problems and identify any emergency quickly;
  • carrying out rescues and initiating other emergency action as and when necessary;
  • carrying out immediate first-aid in the event of an injury to a bather, or other emergency;
  • communicating with bathers in order to carry out any of the above;
  • ensuring the pool area is never left unattended when bathers are in the water, or are likely to be in the water or when spectators are present;
  • making themselves familiar with any emergency equipment provided.



Adults providing lifeguard cover for school swimming sessions may be:


  • A lifeguard employed by the pool whose role is simply to provide lifeguard cover;
  • A lifeguard employed by the school whose role is simply to provide lifeguard cover;
  • A school staff member.


Lifeguards must possess at least one of the following qualifications:


  • Royal Lifesaving Society UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification
  • Royal Lifesaving Society UK National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches


Royal Life Saving Society – “National Pool Lifeguard” qualification


All qualifications must be current and appropriate to the pool being used.  All qualifications should be maintained through regular training.  Clarification of suitability of the qualification can be sought from the Health and Safety Team (Education), Property and Transport Services Unit, 18 Portland Square, Carlisle


It is the responsibility of the lifeguard to ensure that they are on the poolside before any pupils enter the pool hall and they must remain on poolside until all pupils have left the pool hall and responsibility for the pupils has been formally handed over to the member of school staff in charge.  If there is only one lifeguard present, under no circumstances must they enter the water, except to carry out a rescue.  They must also ensure the observers are positioned appropriately.


Assessment of Competency


Competence to teach swimming may be defined as having the skills, knowledge, understanding and expertise necessary to plan, deliver and evaluate the swimming programme.  Head teachers must be satisfied that all those who are required to accompany swimming session, or teach swimming are able to do so in a safe environment, with a sound understanding of the needs and stages of development of all the pupils in their charge.  Head teachers should recognise that is unwise for school staff/adults to work in areas in which they lack the appropriate experience and expertise.  When teaching and support staff take children and young people away from the school, the evidence of their competence to do the tasks allocated to them must be secure.  The Group Leader must have knowledge of the following in order to be deemed competent:


  • the educational objectives;
  • how the learning is to be conducted;
  • behaviour and group management, covering both the journey to/from the pool and whilst the pupils are in the pool building;
  • the environment itself;
  • risk management in this context;
  • the communication systems that summon suitable help for an incident(behaviour, minor accident..) or emergency (serious incident or accident);
  • details of the knowledge, skills and understanding of the accompanying adults




All children within Primary Schools are entitled to be given the opportunity to meet the swimming standards set by the National Curriculum.  Primary schools should ensure that sufficient time at KS1 or KS2 is made available to provide each child with the opportunity to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum Programme of Study in Swimming. 


The financial resources for swimming and transport to the pool are delegated to schools.


Primary schools will have sole use of the swimming pools for their lessons.




  1. It is the responsibility of the Head teacher to ensure a member of school staff accompanies each class of pupils to the pool and that they are competent to do so. This individual will be designated as the Group Leader. 
  2. A member of school staff must always be available when pupils participate in swimming activities in their own school.  A member of school staff must accompany groups on visits away from their own school.
  3. All those involved in the teaching of swimming must have the appropriate qualifications (where required) and experience and fully understand their responsibilities.
  4. The recommendations for adult/pupil ratios outlined in this document must be put into practice.
  5. The school staff member/LST/adult helper should not enter the water except in an emergency and only after the safety of the rest of the class has been checked.  The only exception to this would be for an individual who is supporting a non-swimmer or pupil with special needs.  This must not compromise the adult/pupil ratio and at least one member of the accompanying personnel must always be on the poolside.  This must be agreed by the Group Leader.
  6. The teacher/adult helper should be able to see all the pupils and the pool bottom throughout the lesson.
  7. Pupils should be taught to report any mishap to the teacher; they should also work in pairs to check on each other's well being.
  8. The class and individual groups must be counted before, during and after the lesson.
  9. Pupils should be monitored for signs of fatigue, stress, fear and cold.
  10. Appropriate clothing and footwear should be worn by all adults involved in the teaching of swimming to ensure safe and effective teaching and, if necessary, to effect a rescue.
  11. The Group Leader has a duty of care for the pupils at all times and may stop the swimming lesson at any time if they are concerned as to the management and delivery of the lesson. To carry out this function the Group Leader must remain on the poolside during the lesson.
  12. Once the children are counted on the poolside the organisation and delivery of the swimming lesson transfers to the Lead Swimming Teacher, however, the duty of care for the pupils remains with the Group Leader.
  13. All accompanying school personnel have a duty of care before, during and after the swimming lesson, and are responsible for the welfare and discipline of pupils and fully understand their responsibilities at all times.
  14. Head teachers are encouraged to have extra staff trained to cover for staff absences and to keep an up to date list of all staff having undertaken such training.
  15. Everyone has a duty of care to take reasonable care in any situation to try to foresee that others are not harmed by their actions or omissions.
  16. The Head teacher is responsible for ensuring that this Safety Advice Note is circulated to Heads of PE, PE Co-ordinators and all staff involved in teaching or supervising pupils attending school swimming lessons. It is vital that school staff and any other adults, including Swimming Instructors, who are involved in school swimming lessons, receive and read this Safety Advice Note prior to the commencement of swimming sessions.
  17. In circumstances where there is an absence of a member of the accompanying school staff, the Head teacher and/or Group Leader must ensure that any staff covering the absence has the necessary competence required to fulfil his/her duties.  If they do not fulfil the competency requirements then the lesson should not take place.






  • Head teachers have responsibility for ensuring that the Group Leader is fully aware of the ratios set out in this Policy Document.
  • It is the responsibility of the Lead Swimming Teachers/Instructors to ensure that the ratios specified within this Safety Advice Note are complied with during school swimming lessons.
  • When determining actual ratios for programmed sessions the School Swimming Co-ordinator and Lead Swimming Teachers/Instructors will take the following factors into account:
  • age of pupils;
  • range of swimming ability;
  • ability of pupils to comprehend instructions;
  • any physical, behavioural or learning disabilities;
  • a risk assessment, which will be a generic risk assessment for Primary School swimming.
  • Pupils in mainstream schools with special needs or behavioural problems must be assessed according to their individual needs, and an individual risk assessment undertaken. Full consultation between the Class Teacher, Lead Swimming Teacher, and where necessary school Special Education Needs Co-ordinator and School Swimming Co-ordinator should take place before such children attend their first school swimming lesson. The Group Leader accompanying the children must have full knowledge and details of the discussions and agreement.


It is recognised that it is sometimes necessary for members of staff to enter the water with the children, particularly if the pupils are very young or have special needs. It is essential, however, that adult/pupil ratios are maintained and that at least one member of the accompanying personnel is always on the poolside and in such a position that the whole of the pool is in view.


A Lifeguard will be on poolside during all school swimming lessons, however, not included in the Adult to Pupil ratio.


The following ratios should not be exceeded and may be reduced following risk assessment.  Wherever possible, lower ratios should be used as this leads to a higher quality provision of swimming.


The ratios are in the format of a:b where:

            a = school staff member/lead swimming teacher/instructor

            b = pupils in the water (pupils on poolside require additional supervision)


            NOTE:  In all circumstances, the minimum number of adults accompanying any group is 2.


Class Ability

Recommended minimum ratio of teacher to pupils

School Year : Reception, Year 1 and Year 2


Swimmers with disabilities

1:8 (plus helpers where required)

Beginners/Non-swimmers i.e. those just being introduced to swimming


Improvers/Intermediate Swimmers i.e. those who can swim at least 10 metres competently and unaided on their front and back and they are confined to an area of the pool where they will not be out of their depth


Competent Swimmers i.e. those who can swim at least 25m competently and unaided on front and back and who can tread water for at least 10 minutes


Competitive swim training



Special Needs Pupils


  • Each situation must be considered independently.  Care must be taken to ensure there are sufficient helpers in the water to provide 1:1 ratio for those in need of constant support.  There should be sufficient helpers to provide the degree of support demanded by the range of disabilities within the group.
  • Ratios will be determined by individual pupil assessment and by consultation between the school’s Head teacher and the PE Co-ordinator taking into account the pupils’ special needs, the pupils’ swimming ability and which swimming pool is to be used. These ratios will be re-assessed at the beginning of each school year and as necessary thereafter, taking into account absences and new pupils joining the swimming class during the school year.
  • The medical condition of the pupil must always be considered prior to permitting school swimming sessions.
  • Where swimming involves pupils with special needs, class sizes should be reduced to take account of abilities.
  • Special needs pupils must not be secured in wheelchairs whilst at the side of the pool.
  • Wheelchair bound persons should not be left unattended whilst in the pool area.
  • Appropriate lifting equipment should be available to assist staff and others whilst helping pupils in and out of the water if this involves a risk to staff.  Staff must be trained in the use of such equipment.
  • If moving and handling equipment is not available a risk assessment must be carried out to determine a safe system for effecting entry and exit from water.
  • Stronger swimmers may be able to partner epileptic pupils using a "buddy system" and a person must be on the poolside (a spotter) to watch the pupil.


The minimum ratio of adults to swimmers will be as follows:  (The Lifeguard is not included in the calculations)


Pupils under 5 years old                                                                                    1:1

Pupils requiring constant attention in the water                                                 1:1

Profound & multiple learning difficulties                                                                         1:1

Pupils in Years R, 1 & 2                                                                                                 1:1 - 1:4

Autistic, Blind, Deaf

(According to needs determined by the medical information sheet)                 1:1 - 1:4

Emotional/Behavioural difficulties                                                                      1:4

Physical difficulties                                                                                             1:4

Epileptic                                                                                                              1:4

Partially sighted                                                                                                  1:4

Partially hearing                                                                                                  1:4

Severe learning difficulties                                                                                 1:4

Moderate learning difficulties                                                                             1:5


NOTE:  The swimming teacher/instructor will be responsible for the safety of pupils whilst they are in the water.  However, no matter who is providing the teaching or life saving skills, it is the Group Leader of the pupils who will have ultimate responsibility for the supervision of the pupils during any swimming session or visit.




Poolside Organisation


  • Pupils must be instructed by all accompanying adults to walk on the poolside away from the pool edge – running on poolside is strictly forbidden.
  • Pupils must not enter the water until told to do so by the Swimming Teacher.
  • Pupils will be taught safe methods of entry and exit from the swimming pool and all staff and accompanying adults must ensure they adhere to them at all times.
  • The areas of shallow and deep water must be clearly defined for pupils. Ropes with floats at water level must be used to divide swimming groups of different abilities. Swimming Teachers will determine the placing of such ropes dependent upon the ability of the pupils in each lesson.
  • It is the responsibility of the Swimming Teacher to ensure no pupil is allowed access to deep water before they have demonstrated appropriate confidence.
  • Lifesaving poles and rescue throw bags are placed around the pool at appropriate safety points. All staff must be aware of the position of these safety aids and know how to use them.
  • Current Health and Safety Regulations on diving and water depth must be observed for each pool. The Group Leader must ensure that pupils and accompanying staff fully understand these regulations.
  • Swimming registers for each school must be available at each swimming session and are used to record pupils’ ability groups, medical details, assessment, attendance and any other relevant information. 
  • In order that pupils remain visible at all times Swimming Teachers, Lifeguard and Group Leader must adopt appropriate teaching and supervisory positions on the poolside.
  • Safe working patterns must be adopted appropriate to the ability group using one of a combination of the following methods, e.g. Buddy/Pair system, waves – widths or lengths, circuits etc.  Pupils should be taught to report any mishaps to the school staff/swimming teachers.
  • All staff will be expected to promote positive behaviour management and responsible participation by the pupils.
  • Pupils must be encouraged to tidy floats and armbands etc. away in order that “trips and slips” can be avoided. Special arrangements as described in the PSOP may need to be made for pupils with communication and/or sensory impairments with regards to fire and emergency procedures.
  • It may be necessary for an accompanying adult to enter the water to teach pupils more effectively. If this arrangement happens, adult/pupils ratios on poolside must be maintained.
  • Pupils whose behaviour compromises their own safety or that of other pupils may be placed on swimming report. This action will be agreed between the Swimming Co-ordinator, Group Leader and Head teacher.  The school’s own Discipline Policy should be invoked wherever necessary.
  • Staff must adhere to recognised and accepted practice when moving and handling pupils.
  • It is essential that pupils enter and leave the swimming pool building under supervision and be counted on arrival and departure and on entering and leaving the pool hall. These duties are the responsibility of the Group Leader.


Diving/Jumping into water


Care should be taken when jumping feet-first into shallow water, as the feet may strike the bottom of the pool with force, causing damage to the arches of the feet.  Generally, entry into water, which is less than 1.5m deep, is best effected from a sitting position on the side of the pool.


Diving must only be taught by a school staff member or swimming instructor with at least one of the following qualifications:


-  ASA Level 2 Certificate for Teaching Swimming

-  STA Level 2 Swimming Teachers’ Certificate – Full


Diving from the poolside should not be taught where the depth of the water is less than 1.5m.  Where the depth of the water exceeds 1.5m only shallow or plunge dives should be taught.  However, it is important to ensure that local pool rules concerning diving are adhered to.  Pupils should be taught the technique of extending the arms and the hands immediately after entry in order to level and raise the body to the surface.  


The minimum water depth required for vertical entry dives, or tuck dives or back dives is 3m.


Competitive swimming racing dives should not be performed if the depth of the water is less than 1.5m.


The pool freeboard (i.e. the distance from the poolside to the surface of the water) should be less than 0.38m high. 


Each pool and teaching situation for diving is different and a risk assessment should be conducted which considers the following factors:


    1. the suitability of the general design of the pool area for teaching and coaching;
    2. the depth of the water and sufficient area for forward clearance (7.6m minimum);
    3. water quality;
    4. pool organisation and responsibilities;
    5. qualifications, skills and experience of the teachers and coaches;
    6. pupils and their abilities.


Changing Rooms


Careful consideration must be given to the supervision of pupils in the changing rooms.  Pupils must be adequately supervised at all times.  Wherever possible, supervision of pupils changing should be undertaken by staff of the same gender.  If it is not possible to provide a member of staff of the same gender, then an adult volunteer of the appropriate gender may be used. 


        Where Instructors or accompanying adults are left solely in charge of a group or are supervising  changing rooms they must adhere to Child Protection Procedures and must have had an Enhanced Disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and, as a result, have been approved by the school.


Good behaviour must be maintained at all times. This is essential to safe practice.


Emergency Procedures/Safety Awareness


All pools must have adequate provision of equipment to deal with emergency situations and an emergency action plan (EAP) in place.  The Group Leader must ensure that an EAP exists for the pool being used.  All accompanying staff must have an awareness of the location and use of the following:


  • Pool safety signs – these must be pointed out to pupils and must be adhered to
  • Drowning alarm system and use of whistle in the event of alarm failure or in the absence of an automatic alarm system
  • Buoyancy aids, reaching and throwing aids, pool dividers
  • Emergency evacuation point and pupil welfare information
  • Location and use of blankets and/or space blankets.  Additional blankets may be required in some facilities where there is high use by disabled persons, a ‘drag sheet’ will be required
  • Access to telephone giving direct contact with emergency services without leaving immediate vicinity of the pool
  • First-aid kit availability
  • Incident/Accident reporting details
  • Resuscitation equipment


The Lead Swimming Teacher/Lifeguard nearest to the incident effects the necessary action. The accompanying School staff/other adults are responsible for the remaining pupils on the poolside. If a Lead Swimming Teacher or Lifeguard enters the water, the remaining pupils should be taken into the changing rooms. Only in exceptional circumstances should accompanying supervisory staff enter the water to rescue a child. Under normal circumstances this is the role of the Pool Lifeguard and Lead Swimming Teachers/Instructors.




All accidents or medical incidents in a swimming pool building must be reported to the Lifeguard on duty who will record the appropriate details in the pool accident book. They must also be reported on the school systems on return to the building.


Personal Effects/Clothing


Swimwear – girls should wear a one-piece swimming costume. Boys should wear swimming trunks or shorts specifically designed for swimming.


Swimming hats – these are worn for pupils’ safety and hygiene, but are not compulsory. Any pupils with hair long enough to impair vision must either tie it back securely or wear a swimming hat.


Jewellery – for the safety of individuals and the group as a whole no jewellery should be worn during school swimming lessons. It may be necessary to agree procedures relating to pupils who wear jewellery for religious reasons.  An appropriate risk assessment should be carried out to determine whether or not the risks are acceptable.  A further example of applying the principles of risk assessment may be when an individual is unable to remove earrings i.e. the ears have recently been pierced.  Tape may be applied to the front and back of the ears, however, the teacher may feel that this measure is not appropriate and may insist that the individual must also wear a swimming cap, pulled over the taped ears, in order to participate.


The following principles should be applied:


  • All personal effects should be removed
  • If they cannot be removed, the adult in charge should take action to make the situation safe (e.g. adjust the activity for the individual pupil or group).
  • If the situation cannot be made safe, the individual pupil should not actively participate.


Goggles or masks – should only be worn in exceptional circumstances when chemicals in the water may adversely affect pupils’ eyes.  Any goggles or masks used should be made of unbreakable plastic or rubber.  Pupils should be taught to remove them by slipping them off their head, rather than by stretching the retaining band.


Safety medi-alert bracelets or necklaces - should be removed and given to the Person in Charge for safe keeping during the swimming lesson and returned to the pupil immediately the pupil exits from the water. If the bracelet is unable to be removed it may be taped over securely with waterproof tape.


Food/sweets – the chewing of food, sweets or gum immediately before or during swimming activities should never be allowed.   Chewing can result in choking, which can have serious, even fatal, consequences.


It is wise to allow a reasonable amount of time after the end of a meal before pupils are allowed to enter the water.  This will enable them to digest their food sufficiently and minimise the risk of vomiting during the swimming session, which could be life threatening if their airway became blocked.


If a swimming session takes place immediately after the midday lunch break, it is advisable for pupils to eat lightly and as early as possible to allow sufficient time for them to digest their food before the start of the swimming session.


Health and Basic Hygiene


  • All children should take part in school swimming lessons unless medically excluded by a medical professional or a letter from a parent.
  • Pupils should not participate in swimming if they have:
  • infectious diseases
  • open wounds
  • coughs, colds and related infections, i.e. sinusitis
  • ear and/or eye infections
  • gastric conditions which may result in diarrhoea
  • Children who are medically excluded should not attend the pool unless the school can provide adequate supervision for them in the spectator area or on poolside without compromising the pupil/supervisor ratio in the pool.
  • The Group Leader, in consultation with a Lead Swimming Teacher may excuse a child from swimming if he/she considers the child to be unwell on arrival at the pool.
  • It is essential that the appropriate pool staff are fully informed of a pupil’s medical condition prior to the commencement of the session e.g. lifeguard, swimming instructor, changing room supervisor etc. and regularly updated.
  • Medical approval to attend swimming lessons is strongly recommended for all pupils who suffer from any medical condition, which may render them unconscious, e.g. epilepsy or diabetes.
  • Parents of pupils who suffer from asthma, epilepsy, diabetes etc. should provide medical approval to attend School swimming lessons.
  • It is recommended that pupils, who suffer from any known ear ailments, should be discouraged from jumping into deep water, diving and any form of under water swimming.  Advice from parents should be sought for these pupils and for any pupils who may have grommets fitted in the ears.
  • Partially sighted children should obtain permission from the consultant ophthalmologist before being allowed to dive or jump into water. It may be necessary for children with poor sight to wear prescription swimming goggles.
  • If a pupil brings an asthma inhaler to school it must be brought to the pool and kept on the poolside within reach of the pupil.
  • Pupils with verrucae should not be excluded from swimming unless excluded by a Doctor. It is desirable but not essential that pupils with a verruca wear a plastic verrucae sock.
  • Pupils with eczema should not be excluded.  However, certain pupils may be sensitive to the chlorine in the water and consultation with parents should take place before sessions.
  • Where possible, showers should be used immediately after swimming sessions.


Guidelines on Dress and Appropriate Clothing for Young People from Multi-faith Backgrounds



  • Parents should be made aware of the requirements of the National Curriculum with regard to swimming.
  • Consultation may need to take place between the school, parents and Swimming Co-ordinator to allay any concerns, which parents may have.
  • Swimwear should enable freedom of movement and not constitute a health and safety risk to the wearer or to others.
  • If for cultural and/or religious reasons, pupils are allowed into the water in clothing other than usual swimwear, they should be restricted to shallow water until they have shown that they are able to swim competently.  School staff are advised to liaise with relevant community leaders about special clothing requirements.
  • Arrangements may need to be made for pupils who normally wear religious headwear.
  • All jewellery should be removed, because of the potential for injury to the wearer and other children. Parents requesting pupils to wear religious artefacts should be made fully aware of the health and safety considerations for their child.  Persons in charge will need to assess the potential risks associated with wearing such artefacts and, should the risk prove to be unacceptably high, the decision would need to be that the child does not take part in the lesson.