Midlothian pupils in at the deep end

Swimmer Scott Quin is disappointed at Midlothian swimming figures
Swimmer Scott Quin is disappointed at Midlothian swimming figures

Figures obtained through Freedom of Information reveal that nearly 3,000 Midlothian pupils are being denied the chance to learn to swim.

They show that five councils including Midlothian are struggling to provide sufficient lessons, yet in some local authorities all children in P4-7 receive lessons.

In Midlothian 2,730 pupils had no access to swimming lessons for the year 2014/15, up from 2,477 in 2012/13.

The council played down the figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, claiming that the number of Midlothian primary school pupils receiving lessons has actually risen year on year
since 2012.

However, world-class para swimmer Scott Quin from Loanhead, said: “I’m disappointed to hear these numbers. Is it a lack of organisation from the council?

“At the end of the day swimming is one of the most important things for kids to learn in their life.

“If they or someone they know has an accident in the water, then they have to know how to swim.

“Swimming lessons for me at primary school was the main focus. It helps kids with disabilities get really active.

“It’s quite bizarre that kids are missing the opportunity to get swimming lessons.

“I think this really needs to get addressed.”

Loanhead swimmer Scott offered possible solutions.

He said: “When I was doing swimming teaching at Loanhead with Midlothian Special Olympics there was quite a lot of kids wanting to get involved in swimming.

“So we need to find a way to sort this situation out. The council needs to try to get their standards up.

“They should appoint someone to solely focus on swimming in Midlothian. Not to look at the present, look at the future. Asking ‘how are we going to get more kids swimming?’”

Scottish Conservative young person spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “Swimming should be an integral part of the sport curriculum and it is simply not good enough that four out of every ten primary school children in Scotland are heading into secondary school as non-swimmers. During Glasgow 2014 the SNP Government made a very big deal of leaving a ‘lasting legacy’ and supporting an uptake of sport within primary schools. Millions were spent on various schemes. However, the cut to funding for swimming, clearly does not match up with the grand claims.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The number of Midlothian pupils getting swimming lessons has risen year on year since 2012. All primary 4 pupils receive free swimming lessons of up to 13 weeks (an hour a week). Subsidised or free top up lessons have also been available to those children who had needed a few more lessons to become more confident swimmers.

“We were also the first local authority in Scotland to offer free swimming lessons to children and young people with special needs. The FOI asked which primary pupils did NOT have access to swimming lessons, which we interpreted as primary 5s upwards. These pupils, unless there is spare capacity, are not normally offered swimming lessons anyway so the increase in numbers over the years is thanks to increasing school rolls rather than any change of policy.”