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Wiltshire Council offers free swim teacher training to combat growing swimming lesson waiting lists

The Institute of Swimming has launched a free Swimming Teachers' Academy with Wiltshire Council in a bid to increase its swimming teacher workforce and tackle the ever-growing list of children on swimming lesson waiting lists.

Published 1 June 2023
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The Institute of Swimming has launched a free Swimming Teachers' Academy with Wiltshire Council in a bid to increase its swimming teacher workforce and tackle the ever-growing list of children on swimming lesson waiting lists.

The call to action is part of a nationwide crisis, with the national governing body, Swim England, warning that half a million children in England are currently missing out on learning to swim due to staff shortages, which have been exacerbated through COVID and Brexit.

A Swim England survey of pool operators, owners and swim schools found more than four in five are still struggling to meet demand for swimming lessons, with the nationwide shortage of swimming teachers standing at 6,200 at the start of 2022 and the demand for swimming lessons still increasing.

The Institute of Swimming is working with over 80 leisure operators and swim schools across England, including Wiltshire Council, to provide free training to combat the national swimming teacher crisis.

Wiltshire Council is looking to train and recruit up to 35 new swimming teachers across its 16 pools in the county to expand its aquatic offering to the local community.  The council currently has a significant number of children on its swimming lesson waiting lists, which at some points has been in excess of 2000; and due to staff shortages, cannot expand its learn to swim programme or its national curriculum school swimming programme, and also struggles to cover existing staff holidays and sickness.  An additional 35 swimming teachers would enable quicker movement from the waiting lists into swimming lesson programmes and would also help reduce the number of cancelled classes due to staff absence.

The Academy will offer local people the chance to retrain for free (with only a one-off £85 administration fee) and embark on a career as a swimming teacher. Training historically cost individuals £1000.  There are no educational requirements for applying, nor do you have to be an 'elite' swimmer.

Once fully qualified, swimming teachers can expect to earn between £15.59 - £16.79 per hour.

Charlotte McGuffog, Aquatics Lead, Wiltshire Council says: We are currently providing swimming lessons to more than 12000 local children and adults per week. But we are committed to further increasing our aquatics offer within Wiltshire, as we understand the importance of learning to swim and the vital life skill this provides to everyone of all ages. We want every child in Wiltshire to have the opportunity to learn to swim, but this can only happen if we have enough qualified swimming teachers.

We are passionate about delivering high-quality, inclusive swimming lessons for our community and, by offering free training opportunities through the recruitment academy, we aim to find passionate people who wish to embrace a career in swimming teaching. It is our vision to be the swim school of choice for every parent looking for fun, inspiring and safety-focused swimming lessons for their children, and our swimming instructors are integral to us achieving this.

Swim England's data shows 96 per cent of UK swimming teachers love their job and love giving back to the community to support children in developing an essential life skill. Further data shows that more than half of swim teachers have previously held different careers and they are even more likely to agree that being on poolside gives them happiness, fulfilment and a good work/life balance.

Rebecca Cox, Managing Director, Institute of Swimming and Swim England, Business Engagement Director says: We can't sit back waiting for people to join the leisure sector. We need to be out there, removing barriers to entry. The Institute of Swimming has worked hard with its partners and operators to create a solution to combat the national swimming teacher shortage, making it easier for people to retrain. 

The Institute of Swimming's Recruitment Academy programme has revolutionised the way swimming teachers join the sector with its 'train-to-employ' model, removing the financial barriers that may have previously held people back.

Teaching swimming is a very rewarding career, with flexible hours, that might suit someone who wants to supplement their existing income or to work around their caring or studying responsibilities. We are looking to attract new people into the sector who may not have considered teaching swimming as a career opportunity. There are no educational restrictions to entering the training.

The Academy gives people the chance to become a swimming teacher for just £85 and takes them through the Swim England Level One Swimming Assistant (Teaching) Course and Level Two Teaching Swimming Qualification. The usual cost of these two courses is £1000.  In addition to the training, applicants will need to volunteer for 20 hours to give them pool-side experience.

Anyone interested should complete an online form by the closing date, 28 June. To find out more or fill in the application form visit: (opens new window)

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