I am the chair of governors at our village school. We had a meeting earlier this week and we had to discuss the subject of swimming because of complaints raised by two parents. We currently take children from ages 7 to 11 swimming once a week for a ten week period over an academic year.
Parent A recently moved her children to our school from the private sector. She questioned why it was necessary to take children swimming because it took one tenth of the school week to do so. She is right to say it takes this long as we have to get the children to a pool in the local town by coach, allow time for them to get changed, get them in the pool, allow time for them to get dry and dressed afterwards, and finally back to school - by which time one school afternoon has been and gone. "Why" she wanted to know could we not tell other parents to take their children swimming out of school hours?
Parent B was complaining because it was outrageous that she had to waste money buying swimming trunks for her lad in order for him to go for the contentious swimming lessons.
As we had received these two complaints we had as governors to discuss whether it was indeed correct and a productive use of teaching time to continue taking the children swimming.
The children of Parent A are all competent swimmers. The child of Parent B was terrified to get into the water for his first lesson as he had never been swimming before.
The same child of Parent B has a statement of special educational needs, and is unable to remember when he gets changed which locker he has put his clothes in. Staff who take him put a sticker on his locker now so he knows which is his. But in the past few weeks this child has learnt to swim and is doing better than other children in his class. This is the first time since he started school that he has ever found something he could master more quickly than his contemporaries.
After due consideration we have decided to carry on taking the pupils swimming. And we paid for the swimming trunks too.
Parent A will never understand the reasons behind our decision and will continue to complain about it with other parents of a similar social background to hers. Parent B is unlikely to tell her child 'Well done' because he has learnt to swim. Parent A and Parent B will in all likelihood NEVER say a single word to each other. The lives they lead are so totally alien to the other.
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