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660,000 children “missing out on swimming lessons” due to acute swimming teacher shortage

There is a shortage of 12,000 swimming teachers in the UK (Image: STA)

Hundreds of thousands of children are missing out on swimming lessons due to the shortage of swimming teachers, according to new research conducted by the Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA) and Swim England.

The two leading learn-to-swim programmes joined forces to conduct an audit of the aquatics sector that found that 65 per cent of swimming lesson providers are restricted from growing their programmes due to the swimming teacher shortage.

As a result, the two organisations said, up to 660,000 children could be missing out on swimming lessons and “may never learn a skill that could one day save their life”.

The research shows that, of the 73,000 swimming teacher roles available across the aquatics sector, almost 12,000 are currently vacant and unfilled.

This means that the sector is down by more than 15 per cent on its total workforce.

In November 2021, a survey done by the STA identified that swim schools in particular had lost 50 per cent of their teachers during the pandemic to other industries.

Dave Candler, STA’s CEO, said: “The issue of swimming teacher shortages has been a subject of concern for the leisure industry for many years, with the pandemic exacerbating the problem as our initial research in 2021 identified.

“As an educational charity dedicated to ‘preserving human life by the teaching of swimming’, our primary concern is always the impact this is having on children being able to access swimming lessons and learn a key life skill, which is why since the pandemic we have funded and driven many recruitment campaigns, and are now joining forces with Swim England to increase awareness even further and tackle this serious issue.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive officer, added: “This has always been an important topic and the sector has always been in need of more swimming teachers, but following the effects of the pandemic, this has now become an urgent issue.

“There has been a lot of good work done in an attempt to tackle the shortage from both ourselves and the STA, but now it is time to collaborate to help share this message as wide as possible.

“No one should miss out on the opportunity to learn to swim and if this is not addressed, it will have a lasting impact on the sector.

“We will continue to work to make the routes into teaching more accessible and inviting so that those who have changed careers will consider returning, and many more will look at teaching swimming as a viable career option.”

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