School swimming lessons – a perfect metaphor for hands off parenting.

Water is often used in metaphors, there’s something poetic about the thrilling crest of a wave or the azure tranquillity of a hazy pond on a summer’s day. Less often have poets used the metaphor of swimming lessons in schools. Today I seek to address that shortfall. Swimming lessons in school are a perfect metaphor for the absence of parental engagement when it comes to careers and academic advice in school. Not poetic perhaps but undeniably accurate.

So, what am I talking about? Today sees a report released that shows that schools aren’t doing enough to meet the national target of having every child aged 11 able to swim 25 metres. Because of the time cost, the monetary cost and the lack of on site facilities many schools are missing this target, indeed only 36% of schools have met the standard. Which is bad, self-evidently it’s bad. But, as this hand wringing goes on and parents become agitated by this fresh knowledge that dear little Lola and darling Keenan are only ever moments away from a watery grave no one is saying the blindingly obvious… take them swimming.


We are as a nation, embarrassingly cuckolded, to the point that like a lobster in a gently warming pan of water we will simply submit ever more to our collective fate. Which is actually quite generous, it’s possibly worse than that, we may just be bone idle. If you are worried about your child drowning take them swimming yourself, pony up for lessons if you have the cash, otherwise throw them in and get your hair wet. It is precisely this kind of wholesale ceding of responsibility to overstretched and underfunded schools that is compounding the issues. Same as careers advice, do you see what I’ve done there? Satisfying isn’t it? No one expects every parent to be an expert on university and careers advice, that said, the bare minimum expectation is that they should care more than the school about their own child and will live with the consequences for far longer. As a parent it is your job, your responsibility to educate yourself so you can help your child make informed choices, no longer is it acceptable to shrug, shove them out the front door and hope someone else will take care of it.

Schools of course have a duty of care to cover such topics as careers and university advice and to that end many claim to, but that’s a familiar tune on this blog, but the parents have a far greater duty of care and should think about their end of the deal before grousing that the free education and childcare services that the government provides isn’t doing enough. Expectations in our country are rightly high and schools should be held to account for the areas where they aren’t doing enough but that should never be conflated with the parents doing sweet FA and moaning that their kids don’t have verruca socks or a satisfying career.

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