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5 day school managed program


Program overview

The focus of this program is on personal safety, survival techniques including life jacket use and rescue skills. The program aims to develop the practical skills and knowledge related to keeping safe in the water and the ability to help others in emergency situations.

A standard day in the School Water Safety Program (survival swimming program) consists of a maximum 5 sessions of 50 minutes. Each group attends one lesson daily for 5 days. 

On the first day of the program, students are grouped based on the distance that they can swim using their strongest stroke. Teachers record the metres in the class roll. 

To maximise student progress, teachers focus on instruction. Teachers extend and progress the skills as they are achieved by students. 

On day four students’ longest survival swim distance and survival sequence are assessed. These results are then transferred to the Certificate of Achievement. All school statistics are collated and recorded for the school and the NSW School Sport Unit.

On day 5 all students will swim dressed in clothes to gain understanding of the difficulty this experience brings.

The teaching program is available on request through the School swimming and water safety office. 

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Registration and organisation

Register your school here: Dashapp school registration 

Dashapp school registration guide (PDF 407KB)

How it works

To cater for schools that are in smaller rural communities, or remote areas, the Department of Education caters for a school self-managed program.

In the school organised program, schools organise their own survival swimming program. This includes organising transport, booking pool space and hiring instructors. Schools are allocated funding based on their application requirements and a number of teaching hours are allotted for securing instructors.

For many schools in isolated areas, travelling to and from the pool means that 10 consecutive days of lessons is not possible. In these cases, there are other variations available that maintain the intensive nature of the program. 

How the funding works

The school will be notified of their allocated number of teaching hours and funded amount based on participant numbers in the school’s initial application. A time frame for the transfer of funds into their school account will be provided. It is important to note that:

  • if student participant numbers vary from the initial school application prior to the program starting the School swimming and water safety office should be notified
  • funding level will need to be adjusted to reflect changes
  • schools have access to the tuition allocation table which allows schools to recalculate their allocated hours if numbers do change.

Contact the School swimming and water safety office immediately if the program cannot proceed. This will alleviate the need to recoup unused funding.

On completion of the program schools are required to complete the analysis and report under DoE audit guidelines.

Employment and payment of instructional staff

Program teachers can be:

  • AUSTSWIM qualified (or equivalent) casual teachers
  • casual teachers replacing AUSTSWIM qualified teachers
  • AUSTSWIM qualified community members
  • pool and pool staff.

How to pay a casual teacher

Principals must ensure that casuals are listed in eCPC and if not then onboard them into the SAP system. In this case casuals will need to refer to:  Documents to complete for probity check.

Casuals fill in a school based employee salary claim form and submit it to the school on completion of the program. The school then enters the work hours into their payroll system so that the casual can be paid through SAP.

School Based Employee Salary Claim Form (PDF 208KB)

How to pay a community member

The community member needs to be current in eCPC or clearance completed. If not the school must onboard the community member in the SAP system as a Non-school based Level B employee.

For clearance the community member will need to submit:

Community members fill in a non-school based employee salary claim form and submit it to the school on completion of the program. The school then enters the work hours into their payroll system so that the community member can be paid through SAP.

Non School Based Employee Salary Claim Form (PDF 473KB)

 How to pay pool staff

When a school uses the local pool and its instructors to conduct the program, the pool staff are paid by the pool rather than directly through DoE. In this model the schools pays the pool invoice (entry costs and instruction fees).

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Staffing the program and supervision

The survival swimming program is conducted by Department of Education teachers that hold learn to swim qualifications. When qualified teachers aren’t available the role is filled by community members and pool staff.

In the average session of 60 students, participating schools provide a teacher to conduct pool deck supervision and 1 to 2 teachers to take a group of students and be prepared to get in the pool.

The responsibility of providing a safe and positive learning experience is shared between the swimming teachers and the school staff. A shared duty of care exists.

Teaching and supervision ratios

An average teaching ratio of 1 teacher to 15 students (1:15) is in place for all groups in the water. An overall supervision ratio of 1:12.

Where integrated students are included additional school staff may be required to assist reduce the group sizes. Qualified or experienced adults can be included in the supervision plan, providing that the principal is satisfied with their ability, and that there are sufficient teachers to teach and supervise lessons. 

For students with additional needs, supervision requirements will vary and need to be assessed. If students have health plans, a copy must be provided to the Survival swimming program Teacher in Charge.

In assessing the level of addition supervision required consider:

  • the nature and location of the activity
  • the number of students involved, and their swimming ability
  • the age, maturity and gender of students
  • the method of travel, distance, and route to the location
  • the experience and qualifications of the adult supervisors.

For groups from schools for specific purposes and support units, smaller numbers of students will be allocated to each session to reduce the ratio and the lesson time shortened.

If a student has known seizure conditions, there must be one additional supervisor for each such child in the water. This extra supervisor doesn’t need to be a teacher.

Identifying staff from participating schools

The Department of Education values the involvement of enthusiastic staff from schools across NSW. Principals should select the most qualified and experienced teachers, and also those with an interest in teaching learn-to-swim and water safety.

Specific staffing requirements from participating schools are as follows:

  • one teacher is required per 30 students. A maximum session size of 60 students is in place
  • one teacher will provide pool deck supervision. For groups above 30 the second teacher will be required take a group
  • support is provided by program staff and teaching resources and suggested activities are available at the pool
  • the same 2 teachers should be available for all 5 lessons
  • schools are encouraged to have both male and female escorting teachers where possible
  • if no AUSTSWIM qualified school staff are available, other keen teachers can be used
  • one additional spotter is required for each student with known seizure conditions
  • extra support must be provided for the inclusion of students with additional needs, and class sizes should be appropriate for the needs of such students.
Role of the school teacher taking a group

The school teacher responsible for their own group of students will have lots of support in performing this role. Daily mentoring prior to each session by the Teacher in Charge (TIC) will take place, and ideally, the group will be positioned near a survival swimming program teacher.

The teacher should:

  • be familiar with the program content and resource folder
  • teach a group of mid-range students
  • understand that teaching ratios are approximately one teacher to 15 students
  • be given relevant skill cards by the TIC
  • complete skills checklists and certificates for their own group
  • return the skills checklists and certificates to the TIC at the beginning of the last lesson.
Role of the pool deck supervising teacher

The teacher supervising pool deck is not directly involved in teaching a group of students. Instead, they are responsible for the overall supervision of lessons taking place.

On arrival, the pool deck supervising teacher should:

  • provide the TIC with student health plans, and any other relevant student information
  • supervise the change rooms
  • decide where bags and belongings will be placed
  • direct students to the assembly point, and supervise them until lessons begin.

During lessons, the pool deck supervising teacher should:

  • maintain roll books and other paperwork
  • ensure students with special needs are brought to the attention of their swimming teachers
  • assist other teachers as required
  • encourage students
  • help with disruptive students
  • attend to sick or injured students
  • supervise students leaving groups for any reason
  • supervise change rooms after the lesson
  • fill in accident reports when required.
Physical contact with students

Child protection procedures are an important part of the program. There are two main elements. Firstly, procedures are in place to protect students from harm, and secondly, students are educated to know the difference between touch that is appropriate, and that which is not.

The survival swimming program is in a unique place when it comes to child protection, as appropriate physical contact is necessary to support, assist, and demonstrate to students.

Seeking permission

Before the program begins, the TIC will inform school staff and students that appropriate physical contact will be required during the class. If any student is uncomfortable with this, they must be removed from lessons until parental permission is confirmed.

It’s important to:

  • explain to students why physical contact will be required
  • explain what the contact will be, and where specifically
  • during classes, ask for volunteers, or ask a student’s permission before any physical contact
  • minimise the need for touch in classes
  • give students verbal instructions first. If they are unsure of techniques, use peer demonstration and teaching aids before opting for physical contact.
Supervision of change rooms

It is the role of schools to supervise the use of change rooms, and ensure duty of care is carried out. This is not the role of swimming teachers, as they have the next lesson to teach.

While change room supervision can present some difficulties, teachers can take steps to avoid any issues:

  • explain the change room rules and expected student behaviour
  • set a routine for going into change rooms, and keep to it
  • inform students that if there is an emergency, you will need to enter the change room
  • before entering, let students know, so that they have the opportunity to cover up
  • choose two student representatives to report any problems to you
  • call all students out of the rooms if there is a disturbance. If any students remain, seek accompaniment to go into the change room
  • do not stand in the change rooms, students have a right to their privacy.


Class Safety 

The survival swimming program is often run in outdoor pools, so it’s important to make sure that students are kept safe, and protected from the harsh Australian sun.

Students should apply broad spectrum, water resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen before leaving school, and be wearing hats whenever they are out of the water. Rash shirts are highly recommended in outdoor pools.

The TIC is responsible for the overall safety of the program. This involves:

  • speaking with the facility manager
  • ensuring that school staff don’t allow students to access the pool outside of lesson time
  • establishing suitable assembly points for the groups
  • allocating water space for the group sizes based on ability levels
  • ensuring appropriate learn-to-swim and safety equipment is available
  • ensuring emergency procedures are in place and participating staff are prepared
  • instructing school staff on 'scanning and surveillance' techniques
  • ensuring that daily safety talks are presented to the students
  • ensuring that underwater swimming is restricted to that required in class
  • ensuring close supervision of students entering the water  and near any diving tower.
Teaching equipment and rescue equipment

Teaching equipment can be very useful in making learning more enjoyable, and providing students with a temporary boost that helps them concentrate on, and achieve a new skill. Equipment can also be used for safety, especially when water conditions aren’t ideal for the level of ability. For example, a beginner in deep water.

The TIC must make sure all necessary rescue equipment is readily available at the venue.

In addition to buoyancy and reaching aids, the pool may provide:

  • hoists for easy access to the pool for students with disabilities
  • a well-supplied medical kit, kept readily available
  • a communication system, to ensure that medical assistance or an ambulance can be contacted without delay if a situation arises.
Emergency Procedures

In the event of an emergency, students and teachers need to be aware of their roles.

Most pools will have well documented emergency procedures, and it’s important that teachers and students are familiar with them.

Access to emergency equipment, most importantly to a telephone, must be maintained at all times.

An emergency plan is crucial in preparing everyone to handle such a situation.

When developing an emergency plan, consider:

  • staff roles and responsibilities
  • the location of the nearest phone; note that mobile phones may not work in all locations
  • ambulance location and phone number
  • the location and phone number of nearest medical assistance
  • transport to nearest medical assistance
  • ensuring that a first aid kit is available, unlocked, and well-stocked
  • being aware of rescue equipment such as ropes, poles, and floating aids
  • being aware of personnel with first aid qualifications
  • knowing where the first aid signal is, and how to use it

state of emergency procedures, such as emergency action, role of staff, and after-care contacting agencies; such as St John Ambulance, the Fire Brigade, SES, and Poisons Information Bureau.

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Application and resource pack

Applications for inclusion in the School Water Safety Program open in January each year and close at the end of February.

As school bookings are confirmed you will receive:

  • a letter advising the number of hours of instruction allocated
  • roll books (1 for every group of 30 students)
  • certificates of achievement
  • administrative paperwork - these documents can be accessed via Administrative Resources below
Pool and Transport organisation and costing

Instruction and pool entry are subsidised. Schools cover the remaining costs. 

Schools need to:

  • book pool space. Edge lanes are required and a variety of water depth
  • book transport
  • employ instructors 
Adjusting number of sessions

For schools considering either adding or removing students, it’s important that the School swimming and water safety office is contacted. Funding will need to be adjusted.

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Administrative Resources

Select the link below to view the required documents.

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