MP for Doncaster Central Dame Rosie Winterton visited her former primary school, Park Primary School in Doncaster, on Friday 16 December, to help highlight issues around water safety and promote water safety education.

Dame Rosie, along with Mary Hannan who is a Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) lifeguard and lifesaver, spoke with children in year four to deliver a water safety lesson.

RLSS UK, a national charity who provides free water safety education, believes that class-based water safety education should be on the curriculum in schools to equip all children with the right skills and knowledge to safely enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.

During the visit, Dame Rosie spoke to pupils at Park Primary School about how they can stay safe and enjoy being in, on or around the water.

Dame Rosie said “It is always a pleasure to return to Park Primary School, where I was once a student, and on such an important occasion as well. Mary Hannan from the Royal Life Saving Society UK gave an engaging and informative lesson to the children, who took the lessons on in stride. We are all aware of the sad tragedy which took place in Solihull recently, and so I was very pleased to see that Doncaster children are being taught how to keep safe around the water. I know this lesson will have been so important to the children, especially in these wintry conditions where water can be even more dangerous.

“The day also gave me the opportunity to speak to Headteacher Mrs Rebecca Gude and Deputy Head Mrs Donna Riley, to catch up on matters impacting Park Primary and Doncaster primary schools generally. I always value the time I spend in schools, which are often hubs for local communities and a great way in which I can receive feedback on our local area as a Member of Parliament.”

Staff at Park Primary School understand the importance of water safety education, especially with the River Don running through the town.

Mrs Gude, Headteacher at Park Primary School, said “The safety of all our pupils at Park is extremely important. As part of our curriculum, we endeavour to ensure all pupils have the skills and knowledge to be able to understand how to keep themselves safe in a variety of different circumstances. It is a privilege to welcome RLSS UK along with Dame Rosie into school to support the work being done around water safety. As part of our year four statutory swimming lessons, they cover how to be safe both in and around water as well as how to help others. This is a fantastic opportunity for them to embed their learning and get to meet a professional RLSS UK lifesaver and an MP too!”

During the visit, pupils at the school were able to learn about water safety tips in the cold weather and take part in classroom based activities such as rope throwing and role plays.

RLSS UK produces lesson plans and resources for teachers at both primary and secondary schools to use to integrate class-based water safety into the curriculum. During the charity’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign in 2022, they were able to educate over 341,000 school children with the free downloadable school resources available. As well as this, the charity was able to engage with over 50 MPs in a water safety event at Westminster, with the hope that MPs raise the issue in their own constituencies.

Mary Hannan who led the session on behalf of RLSS UK said “It is great to work with schools to promote water safety and develop children’s skills and knowledge around the subject. It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm from the pupils at Park Primary School and we hope that this is the start of their positive relationship with water and they can now enjoy spending time in, on and around water safely.”

Winter water safety resources

Education resources for parents

Education resources for schools