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Published: 10 October 2022

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has today launched its brand-new National Lifesaving Academy (NLA).  

The NLA programme is designed to provide skills for life and includes beach, pool and open water elements. It is the first programme of its kind for the UK and Ireland that recognises prior learning for vocational lifeguard courses, officially acknowledging the skill development and growth of young lifesavers as well as addressing the national shortage of lifeguards.  

In 2011 the charity marked a historical moment as it launched a Survive & Save programme to give young people the opportunity to learn vital lifesaving skills. Over a decade later, the charity has adapted the programme, developing elements further to ensure those who take the award have the latest skills and knowledge around lifesaving and to recognise the valuable contribution that lifesavers make in society.  

The brand new National Lifesaving Academy will be ran by clubs and leisure centres across the UK and Ireland and RLSS UK aims to ensure that it is an award which is accessible to everyone. 

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK said: “We have worked closely with lifesaving instructors, clubs, and commercial leisure partners to design a flexible programme that can be delivered to more lifesavers and as a result, allow more people to enjoy water safely.  

“We knew that we wanted to make the award more accessible to young people from all backgrounds and households, and this is why we have ensured that the price of the award remains affordable. We also wanted the skills obtained in the award to be formally recognised to allow career progression within the leisure industry.” 

Lifesavers can take awards at either the beach, in open water or at the pool, or all three if they wish, and progress through the programme from the bronze certificate, to the bronze star, before obtaining their bronze medallion, a prestigious and historic award for lifesavers.   

Lee continued: “For many young people, lifesaving is the first step to obatin vital skills to set them up for a long  career . With this in mind, any bronze medallion achieved can be used a Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) hours towards the relevant vocational lifeguard qualification either a pool, beach or open water lifeguard qualification. These qualifications are renowned for being qualifications that lead to exceptional careers, especially in health, leisure and public services. 

“As well as this, our lifesavers will now learn the same theory and techniques you can find in our regulated qualifications, such as First Aid at Work and the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, meaning that lifesavers will now cover the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for adults, children, and infants.  

“With the rise of Community Access Public Defibrillators and the news that all state-funded schools will have a defibrillator by the end of the 22/23 academic year, it was the right time to teach our Lifesavers how to use this lifesaving equipment.” 

The skills that can be learnt when taking the National Lifesaving Academy are vital to ensure that future lifesavers have the necessary knowledge to help others to enjoy water safely.  

Clubs and operators will be getting ready to offer the programme in the coming months and will then be opening their doors and encouraging as many young people as possible to take part in the awards.  

Learn more about NLA