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Education / Council consults on future of swimming tuition

The swimming pool at the West Mainland Leisure Centre in Aith. Photo: SRT

PARENTS and teachers are being consulted about the future of swimming lesson provision through Shetland schools as the council reviews the service.

The review features in the council’s 2023/24 budget as one of many possible ways of making savings.

It was one of the more controversial reviews planned, with one councillor saying he was “appalled and ashamed” it was even being suggested.

There could be savings of £150,000 if swimming provision went outside of school and was provided elsewhere, such as through the Shetland Recreational Trust (SRT) or local clubs.

The council uses SRT leisure centres for its PE swimming lessons in the school day.

At the moment the SRT offers ‘Learn to Swim’ classes outside of school.

The council consultation survey includes a range of options, from the status quo or keeping swimming lessons to primary pupils only, to cutting it completely.

At the moment children from primary one to secondary two receive six weeks of swimming lessons in a school year.

But there is no statutory requirement for the council to provide these lessons within the PE curriculum.

Many children are also transported by bus from school to their local leisure centre to receive their swimming lessons.

Lessons are usually delivered by PE teachers.

One of the options included in the consultation is for a targeted programme of free lessons outside of school hours in partnership with the SRT.

An example given for this is pupils who have not completed the ‘deep end test’ by the end of primary three.

The survey will close on 30 April.

A similar survey was recently issued by the council-run Shetland Library service as it also looked to reduce its spending.

Feedback from the survey, which was completed by around 220 people, has now been released. The report said most of the library’s savings will come from a management restructure and some other staffing cuts, saving around £40,000.

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