Redundancy risk over no school lessons at Stevenage Swimming Centre due to pandemic

Stevenage Leisure Limited says it appears school swimming lessons will not resume until April next year at the earliest...

Stevenage Leisure Limited says it appears school swimming lessons will not resume until April next year at the earliest, putting jobs at potential risk. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Staff at Stevenage Swimming Centre have been told they may be made redundant due to the cancellation of school swimming lessons because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stevenage Leisure Limited swimming instructors who usually teach school lessons at the centre were called in last week to be told by management that their jobs may be at risk.

Schools usually send pupils in their droves to the pool because learning to swim is part of the National Curriculum, but the schools have not been able to do this since March, due to government-imposed restrictions and a need to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

One swimming instructor, who asked not to be named, said: “Stevenage Leisure Limited is having to take regrettable but unavoidable action due to the fallout from the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s incredibly sad, not only for the staff affected but for all the children who have lost the opportunity to swim with their school for the foreseeable future. For some, this is their only opportunity to learn to swim, and it is obviously a life-saving skill.”

The National Curriculum stipulates that all schools must provide swimming instruction either in Key Stage 1 or 2 and pupils must learn to swim at least 25 metres confidently and proficiently, using a range of strokes, as well as perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations.

A spokesman for Stevenage Leisure Limited, which runs the swimming centre, said: “The National Curriculum for Key Stage 2 swimming of 25 metres is a responsibility of the schools. Stevenage Swimming Centre is a venue local schools have used to meet this requirement.

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“As you know, we are open and were hoping schools would return in September. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they have not and it seems at this stage they will not return until at least April next year.

“We do employ swimming teachers specifically to teach school swimming and, as a result, some staff may be at risk, but I cannot give any further detail at this stage.

“We sincerely hope and believe the schools will return to the swimming pool in the near future, at which stage we will ensure sufficient instructors are employed to cover their requirements.”