Water Safety Education

Graham Stringer Excerpts
Tuesday 7th May 2024

(2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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1 pm
Graham Stringer Portrait Graham Stringer (in the Chair)
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I understand that there is agreement by John Cryer and the Minister for another hon. Member to participate in the debate. However, as is the convention for 30-minute debates, there will not be an opportunity for the Member in charge to wind up the debate.

John Cryer Portrait John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered the provision of water safety education in schools.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Stringer. I thank Mr Speaker for choosing this debate, which I am delighted to have secured. It is on a subject that is of great importance to me as vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on swimming, and I am sure that it is a matter of interest and concern for Members on both sides of the House. I also want briefly to thank both Philip Brownlie, head of public affairs at Swim England—it used to be the Amateur Swimming Association, in my day—for all his help in securing the debate and with my speech, and my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West), the chair of the all-party group.

Swimming has been a genuine passion of mine for many years. I started to swim at the age of five or six and I have swum with various swimming clubs, such as Leyton ASC, Hornchurch ASC and East Grinstead Tri Club. I want every child to have the kind of opportunity that I and many others had when we were growing up. If we can develop children’s physical literacy through good-quality, positive experiences at school, we can set them up for a lifelong love of being active.

Swimming is obviously a sport, but it is probably the only sport that might save someone’s life at some point. Figures shared with me by the Royal Life Saving Society show that the number of child drownings is increasing at an alarming rate. In my view, that is not unconnected to the net loss of swimming pools in this country of about 400 over the past decade. In 2022, there was a 46% increase in the number of child drownings against the five-year average, and although the 2023 data has not been officially published, early indications suggest that child drownings may have increased significantly again last year.