Bristol primary school uses pop-up pool to help tackle 'swimming crisis'

  • ITV West Country's Ellie Barker went to visit Brentry Primary School in Bristol to find out how the pop-up pools work

A former Olympian and swimming campaigner has said pop-up pools which are being taken to primary schools could help more children learn to swim.

Sharron Davies, a former Olympic silver medallist who learnt to swim in Plymouth, said pop-up pools can enable children to learn how to swim "much quicker".

The pools, from Progressive Sports, a not-for-profit company based in South Gloucestershire, are being taken to primary schools across the country.

The cost of the portable pools comes out of the school budget, as well as funding given to schools for sports.

They are installed for three weeks, during which time children get a 45-minute swimming lesson each day.

Sharron Davies said: "Intense classes are a really great idea. It saves that commuter time - you know getting off the bus, in the bus, into the changing rooms.

"The children get all that time in the water, and as it's an intense course, they will learn to swim much quicker that way."

Swimming has been a part of the national curriculum since 1994, but it is not inspected by Ofsted.

According to Sport England, one in four children leave primary school unable to swim the statutory 25 metres.

Many children are unable to swim 25m by the time they leave primary school. Credit: Progressive Sports

An All Party Parliamentary Group report on swimming in 2021 warned that this figure could rise to three in five children by the 2025-2026 academic year as a result of the impact of pool closure during the coronavirus pandemic.

The report warned of a "lost generation" of swimmers and said more than one million children could leave primary school in the next five years unable to swim the minimum distance required under the national curriculum.

Mrs Davies added: "Kids are leaving school not being able to swim their 25 metres, and it's always kids who come from deprived areas.

"It's really important that kids can swim. It's a wonderful activity. It uses every part of their body and it's not weight-bearing, and of course, it's a life-saving skill that you have from cradle to grave."