A North East council which campaigns to raise awareness of the need to be safe around water has welcomed the prospect of a forthcoming parliamentary debate on the subject.
Durham County Council has welcomed the fact MPs will on 12 July be debating a petition calling for an increase in curriculum content about water safety as part of swimming lessons.
Through councillor representation on the Local Government Association (LGA), the local authority has previously pushed for water safety to be taught to children in schools. Following this, the LGA began lobbying for youngsters to be taught about the dangers of going into cold water via swimming lessons organised by their schools, or in their personal, social, health and economic lessons.
The council has also led the Safe Durham Partnership’s Dying to be Cool campaign, which seeks to make ten to 16 year olds aware of cold water shock and the risks of going into water without acclimatising first. The campaign has seen the council work with the family of County Durham teenager Cameron Gosling, who died from cold water shock after jumping into the River Wear near Bishop Auckland in 2015.
In addition the council has laid on sessions for schoolchildren at the Staindrop open air pool to teach children how to be safe in water, as well as hosting a comprehensive programme of swimming lessons at its leisure centres across County Durham.
The petition, which has 107,356 signatures, calls on the government to “review and enhance curriculum content on water safety, so schools are required to ensure that all children know about and know how to deal with issues such as cold water shock and rip currents.”
Ahead of the debate, Cllr John Shuttleworth, the council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We very much welcome the fact MPs are going to be debating the possibility of children being taught about water safety at swimming lessons, as part of the national curriculum.
“Too many young people have lost their lives in the water all over the country including in County Durham and that is why we have pushed so hard to raise awareness of the dangers and risks through the Dying to be Cool campaign and other work such as the sessions at Stanhope pool.
“Anything which means that schoolchildren are given a greater understanding of the risks of going into the water and better equips them should they get into difficulty is to be welcomed; and we hope our local MPs are able to support what the petition is trying to achieve.”