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We're in the swim

PUBLISHED: 10:36 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:27 05 July 2010

recent figures show that fewer than one in four Suffolk schools now has a swimming pool.

That news adds to already growing fears about obesity and the health of Britain's children.

recent figures show that fewer than one in four Suffolk schools now has a swimming pool.

That news adds to already growing fears about obesity and the health of Britain's children.

Many schools find funding to be an issue, with several heads unable to afford to heat and keep pools open. However, Lowestoft schools are doing all they can to ensure that children are learning skills to keep them safe in the water - including those who do not have somewhere to swim at their own school.

Beryl Hindes, head at Dell Primary School, said: “We are lucky enough to have our own pool.

“Last year our children rated it as their favourite activity, and they want to do it even more.

“We start swimming lessons after Easter when it's warmer and stop when it's colder around October half-term. We don't teach the children to win swimming galas; it's just crucial they can swim confidently if they fall into water.”

One school which guarantees that its pupils learn to swim is Grove Primary, at Carlton Colville, which extended its facilities by building a pool last July.

Another lucky enough to have its own pool is the Ashley School, where head David Field said many children from the north of Lowestoft learned to swim.

He said: “The school pool is a very important provision at the school. It plays a brilliant part in the contribution towards teaching children to swim in a safe and educational environment.

“Our pool is used by youngsters all year round, and the school believes it doesn't just play a part in safety, living so close to the sea and the Broads, but having the ability to swim also gives the children a wonderful confidence boost.”

Suffolk County Council told The Journal that, from its point of view, the situation regarding pool provision really wasn't that bad.

A spokesman said: “Schools receive the Direct Sports Grant, which goes towards funding sport and activities, enabling them to pay for things like football goals and swimming lessons. A small proportion of schools have their own pools, but those which don't have access to the pool at Bungay and the Waveney Sports Centre and pools at other primary schools.

“The school swimming service ensures that there are opportunities for all children to learn to swim.”

Those schools in Lowestoft that do not have their own facilities still ensure their pupils have access to a pool, making sure their children receive the exercise they need.

Meadow Primary does not have an on-site pool, but swimming lessons are still offered all year round.

Head David Clarke said that swimming was still very much a priority at the school.

“We would absolutely love a pool here, but there simply is not enough space,” he said.

“Our pupils use the pool at Fen Park in the summer and the Water Lane swimming pool in the winter months. The cost of transportation is expensive and there's a lack of funding”.

At Whitton Green Primary, head Michael Stephen-Jones said it all came down to finances.

“We did once have a pool here at the school. Lack of funding and pressure on the curriculum have played a part, but we still guarantee our pupils have swimming lessons at Dell Primary and at the Waveney Sports Centre,” he added.

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