School plan for all children to swim 50 metres

THE Victorian government will roll out a new plan next year, stating children must be able to swim 50 metres by the end of primary school.

Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said while many schools provided intensive swimming programs, there were a number of schools that did “precious little” when it came to swim survival and learning how to swim.

“We’re focusing on a competency with our kids to make sure that by the end of primary school, they’re able to swim 50 metres continuously and, more importantly for me, is the ability for their swim survival instincts to kick in,” Mr Merlino said

“We felt it was important to make it a mandatory part of the new Victorian Curriculum. It was really important to send a really strong message to school communities across Victoria. It is a compulsory component of physical education classes.”

Mr Merlino said it would be up to schools to decide how they incorporated swimming lessons into their curriculum. The changes will affect public and Catholic schools from term one.

Warrnambool Primary School principal Peter Auchettl said given the region’s close proximity to the beach, it was important children knew how to swim.

Mr Auchettl said it would mean no change for his school, but it would for many across the state. He said he found that there was a reasonable percentage of students who came to the school from metropolitan areas who didn’t know how to swim.

The school’s preps to grade 4 pupils take swimming lessons, and in grade five and six they do aquatic activities at the beach. 

“I think we have a moral obligation...to ensure our kids are confident in the water,” Mr Auchettl said.

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