Aquatic education resource teaches water safety skills

Issue: Volume 97, Number 15

Posted: 27 August 2018
Reference #: 1H9kDH

A resource that aims to address New Zealand’s high drowning rate is enabling water safety skills to be taught by classroom teachers.

The Water Skills for Life resource gives students knowledge of the risks presented by different aquatic environments.

Giving students the necessary water safety skills to assess risk and make smart decisions in order to stay safe is an important part of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Water Skills for Life(external link) has lessons on water safety for children in Years 1–8 that can be taught by classroom teachers. The resource, which comprises of 27 core skills which relate to real life situations, is based on international research and was developed in consultation with aquatic educators.

Although the programme does require access to a swimming facility, it is designed to be more straightforward to teach than technical swimming, especially for those schools which do not have easy access to a pool.

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) CEO Jonty Mills says Water Skills for Life gives students knowledge of the risks presented by different aquatic environments and the skills to survive should they find themselves in a difficult situation.

“Everyone needs to know how to spot a rip and what to do if they or someone else get caught in one. Also about all the other risks present in our lakes, rivers and ocean. Things like cold water, the effect of changes in weather conditions, currents and submerged objects.”

New Zealand’s drowning fatality rate per 100,000 is twice that of Australia’s and four times that of the UK. There were 92 preventable drowning fatalities in New Zealand in 2017.

New information from WSNZ’s latest drowning report indicates 15–26-year-olds were the largest group of fatalities in 2017. A third of these were female – the highest female toll in that age group since 1983.

Another survey found that only about a quarter of New Zealand schools provide eight or more aquatic education lessons a year.

“The international research now tells us that water safety skills should form the basis of aquatic education and should precede or be learnt alongside technical swimming,” Jonty says.

“Skills like floating, sculling, treading water, fitting a life jacket in the water, moving in the water and signalling for help are fundamental to staying safe.”

Tips for using Water Skills For Life

Identify a teacher who enjoys aquatics and have that teacher introduce new teachers to the resource and provide support.

Prepare for pool activities in the classroom first so the students know what to expect when they get to the pool. The resource has been designed to be easy to tailor to suit student age, diversity and abilities.

Relate the skills the students will learn to real life situations so they can understand why they’re learning the skills.

Ask students who are not able to get into the water to assist pool-side.

Learn to teach Water Skills for Life with Swimming New Zealand’s(external link) free PLD opportunities across the country.

Use the checklists and resources provided by Swimming New Zealand.

Incorporate aspects of the resource at school camps or other outdoor education opportunities.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 27 August 2018

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