RLSS UK have launched a brand-new Water Smart Schools Award for both primary and secondary schools in a bid to ensure that all children, no matter their background, have the opportunity to learn how to stay safe in and around water.  

After the launch of the National Drowning Report earlier this year which highlighted the increase in child accidental drownings, RLSS UK Education Manager, Andy Lane, tells us why the award is so important. 

"In 2022, there was a 46% increase in the number of accidental fatalities amongst children, compared to the 5-year average. 35 accidental child fatalities were reported – meaning the equivalent of a classroom of children drowned in 2022. 

Access to swimming tuition and water safety education differs widely across the UK and there is often a disparity for those from low-income and ethnically diverse family groups. The 2022 Active Lives Survey shows that only 34.7% of children from low-affluence families are able to swim 25m unaided, compared to 76.4% of children from high-income families. This means that children from low-affluence families are half as likely to be able to swim 25m unaided. 

RLSS UK is committed to reducing and removing barriers to swimming attainment and water safety education. We believe that water safety knowledge is best achieved through sustained learning, expanding knowledge, and embedding skills to affect good decision-making and behaviours.

To enable schools to reach an accredited standard of excellence in water safety education, we have created the ‘Water Smart Schools’ award programme.  

Water Smart Schools is a flexible and adaptable programme that can be applied to any learned environment with agility and ease, including Primary, Secondary, Further and SEND settings. 

Participating schools work towards accreditation at one of three fulfilling and challenging levels, bronze, silver or gold, utilising our tried and tested, easy-to-deliver class-based lesson plans and associated resources.  

Water Smart Schools provides the materials needed to give all children, irrespective of gender, ethnicity or religion, the knowledge, skills and understanding to enjoy water safely. 

All resources and support for the duration of the programme are free of charge” 

Learn more about the Water Smart Schools Award