John Beattie out of his depth in journalism: 51% of English children aged 7 to 11 cannot swim the length of a typical swimming pool never mind an ice-cold loch

On the 27th July, at 09:38, I tweeted the above. 16 minutes later, John Beattie had tweeted this:

Not exactly the same but still a quick attempt to exploit the tragic drownings, only 2 days earlier, to make a political point.

Beattie attracted several angry responses but these two sarcastically pointed out the stupidity of his idea:

So, it’s statutory element in English Schools but what’s the pass rate, so to speak?

Well, according to a report released by swimming’s governing body, the ASA and Kellogg’s entitled ‘Learning the Lesson : The Future of School Swimming’, more than 1.1 million primary school children are reported to be unable to be safe in and around water. 3,501 primary schools were surveyed on how many of their children have attained Key Stage 2 swimming requirements. It found 51% of children aged 7 to 11 cannot swim the length of a typical swimming pool (25 metres) unaided.

Click to access swimming-brochureforschools.pdf

Try chucking the 49% in a loch and see how many need saving?

10 thoughts on “John Beattie out of his depth in journalism: 51% of English children aged 7 to 11 cannot swim the length of a typical swimming pool never mind an ice-cold loch

    1. One child was saved on the southern coast after floating on his back, like a starfish. Advice given in a child information programme. He could not swim. He survived for two hours in the water, drifting, and was rescued.

      Liked by 4 people


      he should be better than that surely his money payment
      Does not ally his conscience

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dearie me John, did your sarcasm encourage a BU (British Unionist) flounce from Beattie ?
    He’s probably right to point it out, that’s why fewer English suffer fatal drownings each year, em, er, no they don’t, ok…

    Folks get into difficulties in water for the stupidest of reasons, almost all of them because they overestimated their capabilities and underestimated the conditions, the greatest risk is not being in a group.

    Stupidity can kill, but it can also open doors at the BBC…

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Over the period of several hours, I waited for a run-through of the tragedy, so lessons could be learned. It never happened.
    The loch was “dangerous”. Not on its own it isnt.
    I have swan in lochs, rivers, seas, swimming pools. I am not a great swimmer, and the best thing I was ever told was–learn to float.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Indeed “learn to float”, but core to that is learn not to panic.
      What Beattie’s petulance signally misses is significance – By the time kids are involved with a PE curriculum, they will have spent at least 10 years tempted by Scotland’s abundance of seas, lochs and rivers, it is up to parents to encourage skills and confidence in them.

      As a kid, I had gone straight through the decking on a jetty at our local loch, sat on the bottom fascinated as the silt settled all around, calm as you please stood up only to rapidly extricated by a terrified dad.
      Thus began swimming lessons for all 3 of us in the loch, aided by an embarrassingly weird full swim suit with pockets, into which polystyrene blocks were inserted then removed in stages as we became more capable and confident.

      Accidents will still happen but it’s crucial we know why, the lazy journalism of “The loch was dangerous” is as you point out, complete tosh.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a naivete about Mr Beattie in relation to local authority schools due to his experience as a private school pupil and his reading of the ridiculous statements from ‘teachers who wish to remain anonymous’.

      Several years ago – around the turn of the century – we had two students in our local authority school, who were competing internationally in niche sports. His opening remarks to them were both admiring but also naively pompous: “State schools don’t offer sports like yours, so, how did you manage to reach this level WITHOUT ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT FROM SCHOOL?”

      Both young people immediately set him right that they had been supported and encouraged by the school and that there were clubs in their area.

      Mr Beattie was sincerely pleased about the success, but unself-aware again, put his foot in it, by saying, “I AM STRUCK BY HOW ARTICULATE YOU ARE”.

      I have always got the impression that Mr Beattie is well-meaning. I have come across him a couple of times when cycling and he has been on his bike, too, and we exchanged some pleasant chit-chat before our routes diverged.

      Liked by 1 person

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