What is happening with the school curriculum in Victoria?
The Victorian Curriculum F-10: Health and Physical Education was released by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) in September 2015.
The Victorian Curriculum F-10, being implemented in all Victorian Government and Catholic schools from 2017, requires swimming and water safety programs to be taught as part of Health and Physical Education in the standard curriculum.
The Health and Physical Education curriculum includes four focus areas which have specific reference to swimming and water safety. These are fundamental movement skills, safety, lifelong physical activities and challenge and adventure activities.
Schools are required to teach the focus areas related to swimming and water safety education.
What does the Victorian Curriculum F-10 say about Swimming & Water Safety?
Development of knowledge and skills relating to survival swimming and basic water safety can significantly reduce a child’s drowning risk and enhance community safety.
Swimming has been identified as a lifelong physical activity.
Programs must focus on building awareness, knowledge and skills so that students can safely participate in a range of aquatic activities.
The Victorian Curriculum: HPE can be downloaded HERE.
What should schools do in relation to Swimming & Water Safety?
Individual schools are able to make decisions about how they incorporate swimming and water safety into their curriculum, based on factors such as access to safe swimming facilities, qualified instructors and their broader learning program.
If students don’t already have the necessary competencies, schools will need to support them to obtain these.
There are options available to schools for practical swimming and water safety programs and resources as outlined below:
Options for practical Swimming & Water Safety programs:
- Outsource to an external provider, i.e. a school outsources delivery to a public or privately owned aquatic facility and the aquatic facility’s appropriately qualified staff fully deliver a program; or
- Hire lanes at an aquatic facility, i.e. a school hires lanes from a public or privately owned aquatic facility and uses the schools own appropriately qualified staff to deliver a program; or
- Self-contained onsite program, i.e. a school uses its own school’s aquatic facility and appropriately qualified staff to deliver a program.
Options for Water Safety Programs and Resources:
- Education From Anywhere – An online resource portal with free resources including; activity sheets, videos, posters and cross-curriculum lesson plans for Prep – Year 10. More information at HERE.
- The Everyday Lifesaver App – The free App uses gamification to make learning water safety, emergency response and CPR more engaging. More information at www.everydaylifesaver.com.au.
- Water Smart Award – A Royal Life Saving program designed for primary school classroom delivery that includes three key modules; Water Safety, Rescues and Resuscitation. More information HERE.
- Bronze E-Lifesaving – A Royal Life Saving free online program targeted at Years 7-10, focusing on risk-taking behaviour, peer influences and alcohol. More information
- Open Water Learning Experience (OWLE) program – The Life Saving Victoria program is a school excursion that creates ‘Everyday Lifesavers’ out of Victorian students, by teaching them practical and engaging water safety, lifesaving and emergency response skills. The OWLE program is designed to empower students to make safe aquatic related decisions while enjoying their local waterway. The OWLE program is ideal to enhance your school’s swimming and water safety or camp programs. More information HERE.
- Sink or Swim program – LSV’s Sink or Swim program teaches students about water safety from the expertise of a surf lifesaver. This interactive 1-hour incursion program empowers students of all ages to keep themselves and others safe in a range of aquatic environments including, beaches, rivers, lakes, pools and the home, through engaging practical activities. Sink or Swim will enhance your school’s water safety program or prepare your students for upcoming aquatic recreation excursions and camps. More information HERE.
What funding is available to support schools to implement Swimming & Water Safety programs?
The 2017/18 Victorian budget allocated $9.151 million over three years to support Victorian Government and Catholic primary schools to deliver swimming and water safety as per the requirements of the Victorian Curriculum. Government schools will receive funding through the SRP from 2017 to 2019. For further information, click HERE.
Schools are encouraged to determine how best to use their Student Resource Package (SRP) funding to ensure students have the opportunity to learn swimming and water safety, if they don’t already have the necessary competencies.
Schools can also use the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) for expenses relating to Camps, Sport and/or Excursions for the benefit of the eligible student. The funding can be used to contribute to the cost of swimming programs for eligible students. More information HERE
Can schools on-charge the cost of Swimming & Water Safety programs to parents?
School Councils can ask parents to make a voluntary contribution towards the cost of swimming & water safety programs.
The Department of Education & Training (DET) released a revised Parent Payment Policy in July 2016, to ensure that parent payment processes and practices are fair, transparent and efficient, including mandatory hardship arrangements in all government schools.
Any request for parent contributions to swimming lessons must be in accordance with the Parent Payments Policy. The policy is available online HERE.
Parents cannot be charged for instruction costs associated with swimming. The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 ensures the provision of free instruction in the standard curriculum program (Victorian Curriculum F-10).
As a school, are there risk management guidelines to adhere to with regards to Swimming & Water Safety programs?
Schools must ensure they carry out the appropriate planning with regards to supervision and risk management prior to undertaking swimming and water safety programs, regardless of whether delivered by the school or outsourced to an external provider.
The Department of Education and Training (DET) School Policy and Advisory Guide provides Victorian schools with access to governance and operational policies and advice. The Guide can be found HERE. The following are relevant policies found within the Guide:
What is the Victorian Water Safety Certificate?
The Victorian Water Safety Certificate is a Victorian Government initiative, which describes specific competencies that should be achieved by the end of primary school.
The Certificate describes specific competencies that focus on water safety knowledge, rescue skills, a survival sequence and the ability to swim a continuous distance of 50 meters.
The Certificate is designed to supplement existing swimming & water safety programs delivered by schools and learn-to-swim providers. A Teacher Guide is provided to support the assessment of the Certificate competencies.
Once a student has achieved the competencies, schools and learn-to-swim providers can order the certificates from Life Saving Victoria (LSV). More information including a sample certificate and teacher guide can be found HERE.
What Swimming & Water Safety skills are important?
The minimum competencies described in the Victorian Water Safety Certificate are designed to ensure children have a basic level of swimming and water safety skill and knowledge prior to leaving primary school. These skills are important throughout the life span to reduce the risk of drowning. The Certificate describes specific competencies that focus on water safety knowledge, rescue skills, a survival sequence and the ability to swim a continuous distance of 50 meters.
Almost 40% of drowning deaths in Victoria in 2015/16 were due to unintentional water entry, including slips, trips and falls, implying the person did not intend to enter the water. This factor makes the need for survival swimming skills and basic water safety knowledge all the more important. The aim of survival swimming is to prepare a child for unexpected entry into deep, open water, including basic skills enabling them to float, scull or tread water until help arrives, or swim to a point of safety.
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Updated: 1 February 2018
Date prepared: 6 December 2016
Prepared by: Life Saving Victoria (LSV) and Department of Education and Training (DET)