Inclusion in the Learn to Swim Programme  – webcast

Inclusion in the Learn to Swim Programme – webcast

Hi there! I’m Jess Necchi, Product
Development Officer for Learn to Swim here at Swim England, and on today’s
webcast I’m joined by Swim England Tutor Training Manager, Fiona MacNamee, who is going to talk to me about inclusion in the Learn to Swim Programme and beyond. Hi Fiona! For the sake of the listeners today,
could you start by sharing a bit about your background and – most
importantly – what experience you have in delivering training on inclusive
swimming? (Fiona) Yeah sure, so my background is mainly primary school teaching – I was a
primary school teacher for 12 years; I was also a swimming teacher from the age
of 16 so my background is that balance of education and swimming
teaching. As part of the update of the Swim England Level 2 Teaching Swimming qualification, we developed a workshop that supports a new objective, which is to plan for participants with SEND. It’s great that the qualification has become more inclusive. This workshop is like a shortened version of that workshop that’s now delivered on the Level 2 qualification. So the aim of this session
is to have an increased understanding of how to integrate and include learners
with special educational needs and/or disabilities into your Learn to Swim
lessons. Just to note that this workshop is mainly concentrating on mainstream swimming lessons. So we thought it would be important to discuss terminology right from the beginning. It’s something which can scare
quite a lot of people and lower their confidence because people don’t know
what words to use and terminology can be quite frightening. So, just to remind you
that you’re not meant to be a medical expert in all different types of
conditions. You are the swimming teaching expert, therefore it’s the
characteristics that every individual displays which are important. And we’re
not necessarily looking for the DISability we’re looking at their
ABility and water and working with who we’ve got in
front of us. So that’s really important that we find out as much as we
can about our individual in front of us from perhaps parents, carers and the
swimmer themselves. (Jess) Okay, I suppose a teacher gripe might be that, you know, they aren’t paid for the additional time that it might take to get to know
this learner or to adapt the lesson programme or speak to the parents before
or after. They have a very short window in which to deliver a
session to lots of children. What would you say to those teachers who
might ask, “why should I take the extra time?” (Fiona) Yeah it’s a point that comes up quite often and I would hope, first of all, that swimming teachers are in the job because they’re ‘people people’ and they care about the people
that they they’ve got in their care week-in-week-out. But I’d also argue that
if you’ve got a lesson every week that’s 30 minutes long and you don’t
know what a participant’s need is – perhaps they’re displaying behaviours
which are really challenging and it’s becoming a bit of a negative experience
for you, for the participant (more importantly), for the parent…if you add up all those half hours week-in-week-out that’s a massive amount of time. So
if you balance that with perhaps two or three minutes here and there,
opening up channels of communication with the parent, maybe by making a phone call
after you’ve been teaching one day, or a phone call before they start – the
the time all that takes together is going to be a lot less than all those half
hours week-in-week-out. So we’re going start by looking at characteristics because as I said before we’re not here to be medical experts – we are the
swimming teaching experts. So I just want you to have a think yourselves of
what special educational needs and/or disabilities you’re already aware of and
start to consider which of these might be visible, which might be hidden and what
characteristics these participants display. (Jess) What do you mean
by ‘hidden?’ Have you got any examples of what those might be? (Fiona) Yeah sure – so a visible characteristic might be that somebody comes on poolside perhaps in a wheelchair. So, straight away, we can notice that they’ve got perhaps an additional need. Something which is hidden might be that somebody comes onto the poolside and joins your lesson and it
might be half way through that we’re starting to get clues that this person
has an additional need through perhaps their behaviour or perhaps a lack of
understanding of what we’re saying. So it’s useful to be aware that
some needs will be visible straight away and some may be hidden and we
might find out about those later. So we could perhaps start to look at these
characteristics in different ways:- so we might start looking at physical
disabilities – somebody may display perhaps a weakness in their muscles,
perhaps hypermobility of their joints. It might be that they’ve got limb loss or
they’re a wheelchair user or they may have paralysis of part of their body.
(Jess) So these are very much the visible characteristics? (Fiona) Yes, a lot of those would definitely be visible needs. We could then look at sensory impairments – some
characteristics they might display are sight loss or limited vision; it might be
hearing loss or limited hearing; it might also display itself as perhaps
difficulties with balance in the pool or orientating themselves around the
pool as well. (Jess) So I suppose we’re kind of moving into the less visible here aren’t we?! Because some of them might present themselves when you start teaching the
core aquatic skills for example. (Fiona) Definitely! So then we go to the third characteristic of learning difficulties/disabilities and some characteristics
here might be repetitive or compulsive behaviours – I had a little boy in my
class once who tapped a lot when he was anxious; it might be motor coordination or organisational challenges; they might not understand our instruction straight away, or may take a long time to process what we’re
saying; maybe they have difficulty with eye contact; perhaps physical aggression is a
characteristic that they’re displaying; maybe tantrums or tears sometimes. Some
participants may have issues with personal space or have sensory
imbalances as well. (Jess) So these are things that people often might mistake for ‘bad behaviour.’ (Fiona) A lot, yeah! (Jess) I also noticed that on this slide you mentioned ‘learning disabilities’ and I know the word ‘disability’ is often frowned upon
these days as an incorrect term and that kind of leads
me onto one of my other queries around sensitive language – how do
we go about it? How do we know what the right term to use is without offending
people – do we go to a parent or ask a learner, if they’re old enough,
directly, “Do you have ADHD?!” (Fiona) Yeah, again it’s something where I know swimming teachers want to do their best and help, and language is
sometimes a massive barrier for them helping – just in case they say the ‘wrong
thing,’ which is completely understandable. So the advice I’d give there is, first of
all, hopefully that need will be identified FOR you and it will come from
the parent perhaps – it might be a form that they filled in, perhaps they’ve you
know phoned your coordinator and they’ve noted it down or they just talk to you
and they use a certain term. So therefore, whatever term is being used with us is
the term that we can start to take and use ourselves. We’re not there to
diagnose anybody, so therefore, there shouldn’t really be any times when we
have a conversation and put a medical term out there because we’re not the
medical experts. If we were worried about a child and we thought ‘there’s more to this,’ all we’d need to do is just talk through the
characteristics that they’re displaying. For example, you might say “I’ve noticed that…” – lets call her ‘Helen’ – “…Helen today found it really difficult
when she was in a team game and I’ve noticed this a few weeks running. Is
there anything I could do to help?” So actually we’re not labelling
that child because we’re not an expert to do that. We’re just chatting through some characteristics. (Jess) So – worry less, communicate more! (Fiona) Yeah, definitely! And another ‘top tip’ is that obviously
people don’t want to be labelled because they have, say, autism or ADHD –
that’s not the only thing about that person. So that’s why we
move away from calling somebody an ‘autistic person’ and perhaps use – if that’s the term that’s been given to us- that it’s ‘somebody with
autism’ or ‘somebody with ADHD.’ (Jess) So they’re just small aspects of their complete selves. (Fiona) Yes, definitely! So I
thought it’d be important just to spend a little moment thinking about the
swimming experience and the environment of a pool because for somebody with a
sensory imbalance – which is sometimes people with autism – a poolside can be
really overwhelming for them and it’s really important that we have that
empathy to understand how they’re feeling. So, Jess, I’m just going to throw it
out there to you and, listeners, you can think as well for yourselves – what kind of sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes do we get at poolside
that perhaps we don’t get in a normal everyday house perhaps? (Jess) I don’t really think about it but actually there’s so many prominent and
different sights, sounds… smells I think is a big one because of the chlorine; textures – I guess swimming costumes are weird, and floats – I mean
what even is that material?! (*laughs*) Yeah, it must be funny, especially for someone who’s never had that experience before.
For sounds – I guess there’s quite a lot of white noise isn’t there at swimming
pools?! It might be in a large leisure centre and they’ll have other
classes and music in the background, and then there’s the splashing of the water, or
whistles I guess as well. Lots of other people shouting, which I suppose for someone with autism it might be really heightened – those noises. Sights – oh yer, swimming goggles I suppose is a big one isn’t it?! It’s an ‘odd look’ (*laughs*) if you’ve never seen it before and no one’s ever
explained it to you before. Taste – I guess again it’s the chlorine isn’t it?! (Fiona) Yer, so stepping into a swimming
pool is a massive challenge for some people because, you know, it looks completely like nothing you’ve ever seen before and there’s that awareness that actually
it can be dangerous. You know – water – we’re told from an early age that it can be
dangerous. So, actually, these participants are going to look to us as swimming
teachers to be there for them, for their safety. So that’s why it’s really
important that we empathise with that and we do whatever we can to prepare
people with a sensory imbalance, perhaps on the autistic spectrum. It might be sending a photo or meeting this participant so that they recognise that
safe person on poolside. It might be showing them pictures or pointing them
in the right direction of any social stories we might know, or Googling
swimming pools, just so that they’ve got some sort of ‘practise run’ and
it’s not so overwhelming when they come to the poolside. A really nice video
to mention, just to kind of really empathise with that, is the National
Autistic Society have got a video called ‘Can you make it to the end?’ So if
this is something that you’re really interested in you can look that up. (Jess) So that’s, Google ‘National Autistic Society – Can have you make it to the end.’ (Fiona) Yeah, brilliant video! So
obviously we’ve started looking at different characteristics of swimmers we
might get in our lessons. So what can we do to help them? So, this is where we
start looking at adapting our lessons and adapting is something that we’re
going to be doing all the time as good swimming teachers. You might be aware of a model called the STEP model, which is used throughout general sport. This is a Swim England-specific model that we’ve put together but STEP models and other things like that
are really useful if that’s your experience. So I’m going to talk through
each one of these, one at a time. So when we’re preparing our lesson it might be
that we adapt the outcome – so all participants might be doing the same
task in our lesson but a variety of results is expected and definitely
acceptable. So, this is where we start to think of our ‘smarter’ outcomes and
objectives – so it might be that the specifics of what that skill looks
like are different, or it might be the measure – so, the amount of time or the
distance – might be different there. (Jess) Won’t children sort of…if it sounds like there’s an adaptation and there is going to be a focus on that child in the activity, you know, you might say to one
one child “Bob, you can swim 50 meters, but Billy, you’ll be fine swimming five…” …Or, “you can swim without floatation
but you need floatation equipment.” Do you think those children might feel –
particularly if they’ve got social difficulties and things like that,
and they feel awkward around other people – whether they might feel like
they’re the ‘black sheep’ and that focus is too much on them, if an activity
has been adapted and they’re not as ‘good’ as everyone else? (Fiona) Yer, as I say, most of these strategies are just good teaching to be honest and
adapting outcomes is something, which as a swimming teacher, you’ll be
doing every lesson and actually it won’t be – well, it shouldn’t be – that every
lesson the particular person that you’re adapting for has something
different, because it won’t be every stroke, it won’t be every skill, it won’t be
every depth. It will be certain things. And, actually, you’ll be adapting
which progression and which activity each of your children are doing anyway. So it
shouldn’t be that everybody’s doing one thing and your swimmer with SEND
is doing something different. You might have two swimmers who have excelled so
you’ve pushed them on to the fourth progression in your lesson; you might
have the main cohort which are perhaps on progression three, and perhaps
one or two of your swimmers on progression two. So, adapting outcomes is something
which we should be quite used to and we should be using quite a lot. So we’re
adapting for different people in different lessons, so it shouldn’t be that one
person stands out in every lesson. Okay, another thing that we might adapt is the task – so perhaps there’s different tasks or different versions of the same
task. So for example, it might be that if somebody’s got a physical disability
then it might be perhaps an arm pull activity – if they’ve got muscle weakness or even an amputee then obviously you’re going to
adapt that task and it might be that perhaps there’s a bit of sculling going on on for them, perhaps more kicking involved; or it might be team games
versus individual – if you’ve got somebody who really struggles in a team game then you
may give them the same game but perhaps they do it on their own or with
a buddy. So yeah, different outcomes; different tasks. (Jess) Okay, and I suppose actually that’s a great way of making sure participants don’t feel like
they’re standing out – to maybe split the lesson into teams or groups
and just say, you know, ” ‘Team A’ you do this one this time and ‘Team B’ you do that one
that time…” and you switch the groups around and just ensure that the
participant who requires the adaptation is kept in groups that are doing an
activity that they can actually manage. (Fiona) Yeah, and I’ve actually seen it kind of work in the opposite way with a little
boy who had ADHD – the teacher kept the whole class doing exactly the
same task, going through exactly the same outcome and it was too hard for him – you know, going from progression one, to progression two, to progression three – it was too much for him and he got so wound up that he was physically
boring his fingernails into his hands because he was so frustrated that he
couldn’t do it, whereas, actually if we’d kept him on, you know, perhaps progression
two, given him lots of positive feedback moved him on when he was, you know,
achieving, he would never have got to feel like that, so yes there’s swings and
roundabouts with how they can feel. So another way we might adapt our lesson is with the resource that we use. So it might be that they’ve got the same task but
actually they’ve got different equipment or resources in order to achieve it. So
the obvious one here is the pool equipment/teaching equipment, for example, noodles, floats. With or without equipment is the obvious one which again is
something swimming teachers will be considering for every lesson with every
participant. Some really nice examples that I’ve seen are things like
stimulus – so I remember seeing, it was a swimming assistant actually, had a
little boy with autism and she was trying to get him to lie on his back and
kick on his back and she said “Okay, head back; look up at the stars” and he said,
quite rightly, to her “There are no stars above my head.” Because there weren’t! So
next lesson, what I saw her do – she’d been at home and she’d cut out with some silver
stars, so when she did the lesson with him again she held the stars above
his head. So it was that visual which I thought was
beautiful. I’ve also seen people use video. So obviously, if somebody perhaps
has hearing difficulties then obviously they’re really going to rely on that
visual – so pictures, videos of what perhaps the skill should look like is
really really useful. Also, maybe somebody with autism who wants that familiarity
perhaps could bring something from home that sits on the side and ‘watches’ them.
So yeah, it’s one of those ‘the sky’s the limit’ with resources really, and
the more we know about that participant and we know what they like we can start
‘theming’ the equipment. So, for example, I had a little boy who was obsessed with
Thomas the Tank Engine – that’s how he kind of learned about the world
was through Thomas the Tank Engine – and so when he spoke, he spoke in all the
different train voices so actually theming something as Thomas the Tank
Engine and having that noodle as Thomas just worked for him. Whereas
telling him it was a noodle and “Off you go, kick!” meant nothing. So actually
the more we get to know them actually the easier it becomes to teach. And
just to mention there as well about different awards as well. So don’t
forget that as well as the Stage 1 to 7 Awards, we’ve got the Distance Awards,
Water Skills Awards, the Alpha Step Awards, I Can Awards. There’s so many Learn to Swim Awards that it’s definitely worth …if you’ve got a child and you want to keep
them motivated and perhaps they are just taking a little bit longer to achieve
the outcomes in the Stage that does not mean that they don’t go away with
something – so definitely get on the Learn to Swim website and have a look at all
those different Awards, there’s loads. Yeah that’s right and I think the point of
those Awards is that they’re specifically designed to reward smaller
steps so they tend to – particularly the I Can Awards – they reward achievement of single aquatic skills such as ‘I can float,’ ‘I can roll
onto my back,’ ‘I can roll onto my front’ and a great one is ‘I can blow
bubbles’ and it is, as you say, like a really great motivator for
for those learners who are moving through the core Stages just that
little bit more slowly because, you know, I think the Learn to Swim team at
Swim England really understands that everybody moves at a different pace and
people reach their milestones at different times. (Fiona) And again that’s every
swimmer that’s not just swimmers with SEND, it’s every swimmer. So, again, a lot of this is just good teaching strategies.
(Jess) Absolutely! (Fiona) So the next way that we could adapt our lesson is through the
support that we give, so it could be different types of support or the amount
of support we give a swimmer so obviously we’re thinking straight away
about how we use our assistant – not forgetting that as a Level Two, it is
our role to direct and supervise the assistant, so we have to give them
specific instructions. It might be using equipment to support so it might be, you
know, floating – especially if you’ve got somebody with perhaps a physical
disability and there is an imbalance in the body – then equipment can physically support them. Or it might that motivational support – so,
I’ve seen buddy systems used really really well with perhaps children with
learning difficulties and therefore an instruction is given and they don’t quite
understand it unless it’s repeated and they’ve seen it happen. So actually, a
buddy, who can perhaps repeat the instruction and show them how to do
it – it’s lovely for the buddy because they’re feeling really responsible and
then actually you can congratulate, “Oh wow! You’ve listened so well to your
buddy and that skill was amazing!” So actually, you can reward them both in
that partnership. It also works really well for adults as well because a lot of
adults with learning difficulties – they’re getting a social
aspect out of that and buddying up adults, again, it’s just a good teaching
strategy that helps them with their learning, but also helps them make
friends too. So just a little note on manual support there because I know a lot of people will be thinking, “Well how do I physically, or how
does an assistant physically support someone in the water?” Obviously we would need to …
if there’s anything different than the supporting head, hands, equipment,
shoulders – if there was anything different to that, then we would
definitely need to be communicating with the swimmer, with their parent or carer – you know, “Are they okay if I touch
the back of their head?” because actually some people really aren’t! It’s too
personal – it covers their ears… So yeah, before we’re going to manually support
that child it’s really important that we have a conversation. It’s important that we are
talking the swimmer through exactly what we’re going to do and it may be
that perhaps we need a risk assessment in there as well. So, risk assessments may
be needed for things like different entries, different exits
perhaps in deep water or it could be perhaps a personal need – so, for example,
if there’s a neck instability or, as I said before, an area of the body that they’re
not comfortable with being touched, then it’s just kind of making sure that
everybody is on the same page and we are looking at perhaps risk assessing
anything that needs to be done slightly differently. (Jess) And do some centres also have their own risk assessments put in place? Are these the sorts of risk
assessments that would be done separately to that – are they quite different? (Fiona) Yeah, again it will be completely dependent on that individual if they need something that is not covered in a pool risk
assessment or not ‘usual practice’ – so it could be actually they might need a
little bit…we don’t want to be lifting loads and things like that;
we want to find a way for all swimmers to help themselves where possible. However,
again, if it comes to something like emergency handling and perhaps we’re in deep water
and we want to be able to know that actually if they get into difficulty
that “I can do this to help them” – so it’s anything that perhaps
doesn’t fit the normal picture of manual support. Obviously going along with
safeguarding guidelines – that’s without saying – anything that might be slightly
different, then it’s always worth doing a risk assessment, sharing that with the
swimmers’ adults and just agreeing things like that. (Jess) Okay, so that’s sort of a time where a teacher really needs to be quite proactive and
knowing the difference between the pool’s regular risk assessment and things based
on that individual learner and what their parent or their carer has told
them. (Fiona) Yeah, again, communication is key. So, the final way that we
might adapt our lesson is the type of communication we use. So, obviously
there’s different types of communication, for example, verbal and non-verbal – so
obvious ones there are, if somebody has a sight difficulty then we’re going to rely
perhaps more on verbal language, making sure that perhaps if somebody’s got a
learning difficulty that our instructions are really simple. Again
maybe some sort of picture clue may help them understand; if somebody has a
hearing impairment then, again, perhaps they might need more non-verbal signs,
symbols, gestures. And on the screen there I’ve just got a bit of an idea what’s
used in schools quite a lot. And these aren’t necessarily swimming-specific but
that kind of ‘how to operate in a class situation,’ so you know when to be quiet;
when to stop; what’s happening first and then next; when they need help; when it’s
time for taking turns in a game. So it might be that we have little
cards on how to operate in a swimming lesson when it’s your turn to do things as
well. So just to kind of round up there just, kind of, anything that doesn’t
fit in those different ways is obviously sticking to routines, especially – I mean
for children generally, children really like routine – but especially for any
learners that you know struggle with any changes to routines that they are
prepared for that. Using first names to prompt listening, again, it’s just good
teaching. Teachers are we doing that all the time. Rewarding small achievements –
again, any swimmer who perhaps needs that boost of
self-confidence – that’s going to help. Motivating learners for what they
like – there’s nothing that says when you’ve got noodles for 12 children that
they’ve all got to have ‘a boat’ – you know, actually, that child could have ‘Thomas
the Tank Engine,’ and that child over there may be on their ‘unicorn’ –
there’s no reason we can’t do that; the more we know about that swimmer, the
more we’ll be able to help that. Keep verbal language simple – repeat, repeat
repeat – repetition’s a good thing; and also kind of using that questioning – we give
an instruction – “Can you tell me what we’re doing?” Check that understanding!
Keep the voice clear, calm and friendly. I’ll tell you about one situation I saw where
a little boy who had autism and did struggle in lessons, was coming in on a – they
doing a swimming teaching course – so it was a crash course every day, and to be honest
the trainee swimming teachers were really quite nervous because, you know,
they’re new – but I did hear one swimming teacher say… and I’m gonna call him ‘Bob’ –
that wasn’t really his name, but we’ll call him ‘Bob’ for an example…
“…Oh no! I’ve got Bob today” – so my heart dropped because I thought well that’s
not the attitude that we want but obviously he’s expressing how
he’s feeling, he’s, you know, new to teaching. But the saddest thing was that
when Bob came on to poolside, rather than turn round welcome Bob onto poolside
with a smile, open body language, calm and friendly voice, he looked around, he saw
him from the edge of the pool and he went “Oh God, he’s here!” Now, without even
mentioning Bob’s name, Bob knew straight away that he meant him, because he was
looking at him. He saw the teacher’s body language went closed, his facial
expression was not calm and friendly, and straight away, from the other side of the
pool, Bob got really upset – started screaming, didn’t want to get in the pool –
and actually that wasn’t Bob’s fault. So, something as simple as being welcoming,
thinking about making sure our communication is really welcoming is
so powerful, really powerful! And it makes it a positive lesson for everybody involved,
including you the swimming teacher. (Jess) It’s just about self-awareness really and being a little bit more conscientious. (Fiona) Definitely! And thinking actually we
may find that lesson challenging because we’re trying out new things and
we’re trying to help, but actually for that swimmer it’s ten times more
challenging. And the final one, which is kind of the golden thread running
through, is gathering as much information as we can – sharing good moments, you know, “They did [this] today!” Because that is making sure
that that communication stays open between you and the parent, you and the
swimmer as well, so that actually, if you do have to have difficult conversations –
well you’ve got a balance then haven’t you?! It’s not always going over “Well, they
struggled with [this] and their behaviour wasn’t acceptable” – actually the more one or two minute conversations we can have – positive and challenging – the better. (Jess)Yeah, and I suppose that’s also where the Learn to Swim, particularly the complimentary Awards, come into play isn’t it?! Because that way,
the child can also show their parents what they’ve been achieving, and
it’s a great way for parents and teachers to share what level the child
is at and how they’re performing. (Fiona) Yeah, definitely! So just to finish off, just to kind of apply what we’ve been talking about now, we’re going to just discuss a
few learners. Now, these are completely made up but they are based on actual swimmers that swimming teachers have had. So, the first one’ is Dafydd and he’s a
reluctant swimmer. He doesn’t like class-based situations, as he often
doesn’t pick things up as quickly as others and regularly copies what other
people are doing, as he hasn’t understood what the teacher has told him to do. He
often gets told off for not listening and he dreads being asked to go first. When the teacher is speaking to him he can look like he’s staring into space for a
little while after he is given instructions. He is quite proud of the
fact that he can swim very good breaststroke and his teacher compliments him
on this, and uses him to demonstrate how to do it. He likes this stroke because it’s
a bit slower and he can keep his out of the water. So, for somebody like Dafydd – perhaps there’s a ‘hidden’ need there and actually as we’re getting to know Dafydd
we’re finding that he, you know, doesn’t pick things up quickly. If he’s asked to
go first he doesn’t do the right thing. So we’re looking here at
perhaps:- we need to make sure that we are checking that he’s understood things;
repeating instructions; keeping them really simple; breaking things down, and
not asking him to go first – if he is happy to not go first and watch other
people, then he’s kind of showing us what he needs, which, to be honest, a lot
of children will do – they will be telling us what they need and sometimes it’s up
to us to listen and really notice that. So I think definitely
reinforcing how good he is at his breaststroke is a really nice thing to keep
him motivated and keep his self-confidence up. So again, for Dafydd,
there’s nothing really special or, you know, no amazing new strategy there – it’s
just good teaching and just noticing what he needs.
So our next profile is Charlotte. So most weeks Charlotte comes onto the
poolside in a wheelchair. Every now and then she comes to the poolside using
crutches. She appears really determined to get in the pool – I like this about
Charlotte – and she has a big smile on her face most of the time that she’s in the
pool. She uses the pool hoist to get in and out, but gets really frustrated when
it takes time for the lifeguards to work the hoist – perhaps sometimes she has to
miss part of the lessons. She floats really well in the pool but struggles to
swim front crawl with her face in the water for some distance. She’s happier on
her back but doesn’t get much propulsion from her legs. So, looking at
Charlotte, we’ve got to try and motivate her with this entry. Maybe
speak to the family – communication – could she come a few minutes earlier so that transition into the pool can be done
on time, and we’re not waiting for the lifeguards. Again, the fact that she wants to be there and she loves it is going to make…
you know, we all want a Charlotte in our lesson if she’s got that brilliant
positive attitude. Looking at what she can do in the pool – she can float really
well, so therefore, we’re going to really make a fuss of the floating that she’s
doing – that means she’s going to have a great body position. So, we’re really
going to work with her on her propulsion. So again, when I was talking about outcomes
before and how we might adapt the outcome – it might be that she is
a bit steadier on working up and achieving those outcomes, but if we’ve
got four or five progressions in our lesson she’s going to be achieving
something, which will keep her learning, keep her progressing, but working at her
pace. So, next, we’re going onto Connor. Connor’s well liked by the other children
but gets in trouble a lot in a class situation, as he’s often seen not
following instructions. He is boisterous in swimming lessons and
loves splashing and feeling how the water moves around him. His parents are very
defensive of him as they see that he struggles to go at the slow pace of the
lesson. He complains that his swimming teacher talks too much,
and he gets bored listening and wants to practice his technique more! So, the thing
about Connor is, although he’s probably doing it perhaps not how we’d
want him to, he’s telling you exactly what he needs – he needs a faster pace to
the lesson. If we talk too much on a poolside, every child of a certain age is going to get bored and they’re going to miss half of
what we’ve said. So actually, it’s just good teaching to keep the pace going, to keep
our communication succinct – there are certain things there that
are just good teaching. It could be that if we want to adapt something for him
that perhaps if he wants to, you know, practise his technique more, then perhaps
he can go half way out, half way back so for him, he feels like perhaps he’s doing
a bit more even though he’s not. Or, perhaps if we’ve got other people
in our lesson who are taking longer to get back and he’s hanging around why
can’t he go again?! As I say, even if it’s just a half way and
back. So again, there’s lots of things there for Connor, and not necessarily
things that are special, or completely newfound ideas – they’re just
good teaching. Another good one for Connor is getting him to repeat
instructions back to you, maybe giving him a job whilst he’s waiting –
giving him some sort of ‘important’ role. But also with Connor, if he gets in
trouble a lot, we need to really notice the good things that he does – reward that
positive behaviour, even if it’s just something small – just so that he’s
learning how to behave properly in a lesson as well. (Jess) Yeah and I think that really reiterates doesn’t it that lessons aren’t textbook – they’re
meant to be dynamic and fluid and there’s going to be a certain amount of
ad-libbing and changing the shape of the lesson to reward or motivate
certain learners. I also noticed, just for the sake of the listeners, that all
of these ages – they’re all kind of six and young ages – but this is all
applicable to adults in exactly the same way. Those adults might be able… you might be able to communicate more with those adults directly, or they may also
have a carer or a parent as well, who may be looking after them, and it all
counts the same. (Fiona) And what’s funny about adult lessons is – we tend to adapt more
for adult lessons because they have different reasons for coming and
different motivations and we do that naturally for adults, yet when we’ve got
12 children in the class, sometimes we feel like they’ve got to all be seen
doing the same thing at the same time and it’s not true. So, the final profile is Ben.
Ben has previously had swimming lessons up to the age of five, however he was
involved in a road traffic accident at the age of six, which resulted in hearing
loss. He is quite confident in the pool, always enjoying family swimming sessions. His parents have encouraged him to have more formal lessons, which he’s keen to do but he’s a little nervous about this, as it means he will need to remove
his hearing aids. So, the fact that Ben likes swimming – we want him in our
lesson don’t we?! Because we’ve got that really positive attitude, which is a
great start. I think the two things in here which call out to me straight away, are
that he’s a bit nervous about lessons – perhaps he hasn’t been in a lesson
situation before, and he’s going have to remove hearing aids. So, it’s that fear of
the unknown again. It’s that “What do I do when I get there; what’s it going to be
like?” So the more we can do for Ben to prepare him – let him know what will
happen; where we are going to store his hearing aids;
communicating with his adults about what’s the best thing to do. With Ben, if
he’s got hearing loss, he’s going to rely on on non-verbal communication, so perhaps we could buddy him with someone who could perhaps get his attention if I need his attention because they’ll be in the pool, and keeping my demonstrations really
really accurate for him – maybe using video clips as well might work with Ben. Okay, so just to summarise and
finish off now is kind of looking at that question of ‘Why is inclusion so
important?’ ‘Why should we make these efforts for these swimmers?’
When we think about swimming there really aren’t many special educational
needs or disabilities that cannot access the swimming pool, and actually, swimming has massive benefits for all people, all ages – for fitness; mobility; helping
improve balance; it’s got that social aspect as well; builds self-confidence – so actually, just a 30 minute lesson with somebody
once a week can really really change somebody’s life. And that’s before we even talk about Paralympians – you know, the Ellie Simmons of the world. Actually, we might just have the next Paralympic athlete in our
lesson – how do we know we haven’t?! So actually, what they’re asking for is
somebody to believe in them and to do what they can to help and to really look
at their ability because, as I say, it could go either way and actually, we
could make a really positive change in their life! (Jess) Great, well thank you so much
for your time today Fiona! And, for our listeners – if you’d like any more support
on any of the topics covered in today’s session, please do email in at
[email protected], that’s [email protected], and a member of the Learn to Swim team will be able to point you in the right direction. Or, do explore our
Inclusion Hub, where you’ll hopefully be viewing this webcast. Here, you’ll find
lots more supporting resources for swimming teachers, assistants and
coordinators, and also learners and parents and carers who are either
delivering, or need help delivering inclusive swimming lessons or, indeed are
participating in those inclusive swimming lessons. Some examples of things that are on the hub include downloadable guides, helpful links, case studies,
consultation forms, and much much more. So, if you’re not viewing this webcast on
the Swim England website then just head over to, that’s to get access to all of these great resources.

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