Swim England

Learn to Swim Framework and Awards


What is swim England…


Details of the awards we offer…


Answers to common questions…


The Swim England Learn to Swim Programme is the leading national teaching syllabus for delivering safe, inclusive and effective swimming lessons for all ages.

The Swim England Learn to Swim Framework gives children confidence in their ability to swim. From this comes more enjoyment of swimming, a love for swimming and being in the water and the skills and motivation required to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through regular swimming through to their adult life.

Skills Learned

The structured and progressive content is based on a games-led approach to ensure children enjoy learning. And with a bright new range of badges and certificates, the Programme provides motivation and support for children at every level – from their first splash to gaining their enhanced aquatic skills.

  • Entry
  • Exits
  • Floatation and Balance
  • Rotation and Orientation
  • Streamlining
  • Aquatic Breathing
  • Travel and Coordination
  • Water Safety
  • Health and Fitness

Stages & Awards

Here is a full list of the stages and awards we offer

Duckling Grades

Designed to help toddlers enjoy learning to swim with help from their parents or guardians.

Learn to Swim Awards

They make up the core, national syllabus of learning to swim for primary school aged children.

Personal Survival

Prepares you with survival knowledge, awareness of dangers and vital life-saving information.

One 2 One Lessons

Whether a duck to water or a seasoned dolphin we offer lessons to suit all levels and abilities.

Bronze Awards

1st Stage of the swim challenge awards for swimmers looking to hone their skills in the water.

Silver Awards

2nd Stage of the swim challenge awards, similar to the Bronze award but with more difficulty.

Gold Awards

3rd Stage of the swim challenge awards, the pace starts to pick up as things get tough!


The final Stage in the challenge awards, you really have shown great ability in the water!


What is the Learn to Swim Programme?
  • It is the national syllabus produced by Swim England to assist and support the delivery of swimming lessons.
  • It is a single programme for swimmers to learn how to be competent and confident in the water.
  • It is a multi-skill programme for swimmers to learn how to swim and be proficient in water, which will allow them to then make the choice to continue to participate in any sports later on e.g. Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo.
What should I expect from each lesson?

The lessons are led by myself, Shane Dudley, a Swim England qualified swimming teacher and each class should include up to a maximum of 6 swimmers. I will look to provide a variety of different fun-based activities to help the swimmers learn new skills and throughout the lesson, providing feedback and instructions to help each individual swimmer develop.

Some swimmers may be given slightly different activities depending on their strengths and weaknesses to help them focus on their individual needs.

As the lessons progress the swimming teacher will record progress made against the outcomes required for each Stage. When a swimmer is able to complete all the outcomes consistently they will be rewarded with a badge and certificate and may be moved into a new class depending on the structure and size of the programme.

How long will it take my child to pass each Learn to Swim Stage?
This will vary with every swimmer depending on their skills and experience.

If a swimmer has the experience of pre-school or adult and child sessions then he/she may move faster initially through Learn to Swim Stages 1 and 2. This is because they will be familiar with the environment and should be more confident in the water.

Some children are more naturally competent and confident in the water and therefore will progress faster. Other children are slower to learn new skills but can quite often become stronger more proficient swimmers as they progress.

The most important factor is that each child learns to swim and enjoys learning to swim.

Each Learn to Swim Stage will have a number of complementary Awards which recognise that a child has completed a particular skill within the whole Stage.

These are great motivators for children who may get stuck on a particular Stage, ask the swimming teacher about these.

What should I do if I think my child has completed a Stage but not been issued an Award?

At Ducklings & Dolphins we continually assess each child against the outcomes of the Stage, however some lesson programmes will administer the presentation of badges and certificates in different ways. If in doubt please let us know.

It is also worthwhile remembering that children need to show some consistency in their ability to perform the tasks so the teachers will keep an eye on swimmers to ensure they can do the task more than once.

How long should my child stay in swimming lessons?
Learning to swim is a life skill and it is important that any swimmer stays with the programme until they become competent and strong. Swimming should be seen in the same light as reading or writing, learning is just the start of development.

Ducklings & Dolphins follow the swim England criteria that recommends a swimmer completes up to Learn to Swim Stage 7 through swimming lessons to give them a solid base to help them enjoy swimming and swimming related activities throughout their life.

What happens after my child achieves Learn to Swim Stage 7?

There are further stages to complete in the Swim England Programme that we can look to offer these include stages 7-10.

There are also Challenge Awards that offer Bronze, Silver, Gold and Honour certificates which as the child progresses has the opportunity to complete.

What happens if my child hasn't achieved all the outcomes by the end of the lesson programme?
The child must complete all outcomes in order to be awarded the relevant Award. If a child continues to struggle the teachers may agree it would be more beneficial for the swimmer to move up to the next group. But, they must continue to work on the outcomes they have yet to complete.
Where do disabled children fit into the programme?
Disabled children should be encouraged wherever possible to take part in the various Stages of the Learn to Swim Framework.

The Additional Needs phase provides progressive steps for those participants who require additional help prior to entering Learn to Swim Stage 1. Alpha Step Awards support the Additional Needs phase of the Programme. The swimmer then progresses into the Learn to Swim Stages.

It must be recognised that some children may never be able to achieve all Stages of the Learn to Swim Framework but Swim England does provide resources and training to try and help swimming teachers provide a comprehensive programme.

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