On Wednesday 8 March the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Water Safety took place in Parliament with a number of MPs attending to discuss water safety.

Chaired by MP for Clacton, Giles Watling, the APPG meets to discuss how information can be better integrated into the education system, specifically for those with existing inequalities and barriers, and communities with geographical risk factors.

RLSS UK’s CEO Robert Gofton, Charity Director, Lee Heard and Data and Insights Manager, Nichola Baldwin attended the APPG to update MPs on the creation of a UK National Drowning Report, which is set to come in the summer this year.

Programme Manager for the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD), Nicky Sleap, also attended to further discuss the work of the NCMD and drowning as a major cause of trauma-related death in children.

Giles Watling, MP commented: “Water safety is something I’ve been banging the drum about for years.  Growing up around water and being an avid yachtsman, I’ve experienced what happens when people are not safe or smart around water.  We must educate to prevent issues but also educate on what to do in a dangerous situation.  We’ve passed the winter where dangers around ice cause issues, as we sadly saw in Solihull.  Now, we’ve got summer coming up where people think the water is less dangerous as it’s warmer.  This is not the case.  In my patch, we sadly lost life as swimmers were unaware of underwater currents around the pier.  The only way we can prevent this from happening is through education, and that is why I’m proud of the APPG’s work to really highlight this necessity and bring it to the attention of government.”

The APPG comes at a vital time as this spring, the second reading of the Water Safety (Curriculum) Bill will take place in the House of Lords.  RLSS UK Patron, Lord Storey, who was also present at the APPG, introduced the bill in 2022 to make it compulsory to include more water safety education on the national curriculum for all primary and secondary schools in England and Wales.

The first reading and the formal presentation of the bill took place in June 2022. At the second reading, the House will debate the general principles of the bill and MPs decide whether the bill should pass to the next stage. If the bill passes to the next stage, it will then go to committee for any amendments before progressing to report stage before the House decides whether to agree the bill at a third reading.

If agreed by the House of Lords, the bill will then be passed to the House of Commons for a first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage, third reading, and consideration of amendments, before the royal assent where the bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

Lee Heard commented: “The APPG is vital in helping us meet with MPs and gain their support for pushing to get water safety on the national curriculum. We have been working for many years to achieve this and the bill put forward by RLSS UK Patron Lord Storey is a crucial part of this work.

“We hope that by engaging with MPs at the APPG and providing them with as much information as we can, such as details about the forthcoming UK National Drowning Prevention Report we are working on, we will be able to ensure they are fully aware of the issues surrounding the lack of inclusion in water safety education. With that knowledge we hope they will support the bill through its readings in the House of Lords and House of Commons, and finally make classroom-based water safety education a compulsory part of the curriculum.”