So said the headline of this article on the BBC this morning. The Amateur Swimming Association have pulled together research about the number of children able to swim and the amount of swimming provision they have within school time. It’s not enough and it may result in further deaths. This is what the supporters of the ‘Friends of Moseley Road Baths’, those who have signed petitions, written to Councillors and even school pupils have been saying for years.
1.1 million pupils cannot swim a length of a standard pool by the end of Primary School – half of all pupils. 47 under 19s died from drowning in 2011. These are damning statistics and they reflect poorly on both Central Government for its lack of strategic thinking and investment, and on Local Authorities, such as Birmingham, who have closed successive pools without replacing them.
School teachers and pupils in the local area have signed petitions and produced hundreds of posters and letters to Council leaders. They have not received a response to their efforts. This speaks volumes about their disregard for the needs of local children. They are frustrated and extremely worried that their local pool may be closed.
The solution has to be that Local Authorities invest funds in keeping local pools open. Large, centralised pools will only increase travel costs for schools, increase travel time, and reduce the amount of time that pupils can spend swimming. The solution is on our doorstep – a local pool, suitable for school children with qualified, dedicated instructors.