Aquatic classroom brings wave of benefits

Knowledge and confidence in and around aquatic environments — as well as an increased awareness of risks and dangers in the water — play a lead role in the development of public school students participating in the School Swimming and Water Safety Program.

But, for union members working in the program, it’s not simply about what students learn in the aquatic classroom. School Swimming and Water Safety teacher and Federation member Cheryl Parsons said that lessons gained in the water often flow well beyond the pool deck.

“We encourage students to share the water safety information with their families,” Ms Parsons, an active member of Federation’s School Swimming and Water Safety Special Interest Group (SIG), said.

This is especially important given that many students participating in the program have minimal previous experience in and around aquatic environments. For many, it’s their first time in the water.

Like their colleagues in schools, members working in the program experience both the rewards and challenges of any classroom teacher.

“At the end of the 10-day program their confidence has grown and many of them can swim a short distance,” Ms Parson said. “It is very rewarding to see the development of such important skills.”

Program teachers also report that the confidence gained by students during the fortnight can flow back into the classroom. “The confidence gained [through the program] can lead to an improved willingness to participate in other areas of the curriculum and school,” one member said at a recent SIG meeting.

SIG members credit the success and strength of the program to the combination of their experience in the classroom and the consistency of learning the program delivers through its structure.

Federation’s School Swimming and Water Safety SIG meets regularly and is open to all members working within the program.