Program models

The School Swimming and Water Safety Program has 3 different types of programs.

Centrally coordinated programs are organised by the Department of Education NSW School Sport office on behalf of applying schools. These centralised timetables are based on the information provided by schools in their applications.

Applying schools should supply:

  • the approximate number of students participating
  • the additional needs of any students
  • preferred venue
  • preferred term
  • dates of unavailability
  • school day start and finish times
  • who the coordinating teacher of the school will be.

This information will help create a timetable for the program. NSW School Sport will then secure teachers and a venue on behalf of the school. School preferences are not always able to be met due to venue availability and available staff. 

Once a timetable has been scheduled, a program resource pack is sent to the school, informing them of their allocated sessions, times, dates and venue. This pack is designed to assist schools in getting organised in preparation for the School Swimming and Water Safety Program. Please note that schools are responsible for organising transport and pool entry costs.

The intensive program has six 45 minute sessions each day. These lessons are run continuously, but with breaks for morning tea and lunch. Each group attends one lesson each day, for 10 days. If a program is scheduled during a shortened week a variation may take place, with adjusted lesson times.

Staff employed to instruct in the program are teachers who are AUSTSWIM qualified. Usually, three teachers per 60 students. Applicant numbers, specific needs of students, and pool environments may require smaller class sizes. In these cases, staffing arrangements may be adjusted.

 How it works

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

In the school organised program, schools organise their own School Swimming and Water Safety Program. This includes organising transport, booking pool space, and hiring instructors. To help with this process, schools are allocated a number of hours towards securing instructors. This level of support is based on the school’s application.

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 consecutive 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 based on participant numbers in the school’s application. It is important to note that:

  • student participant numbers may vary from the school application as schools lead up to the program starting
  • 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.

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 enter the school number, hours worked by the casual teacher and sign the teacher relief salary claim form. Each 45 minute session is considered one hour’s pay.
Forward the claim form to the Sport Coordination Officer who will counter sign, enter the account codes and then send the form to payroll to be paid.

How to pay a community member

Principals must ensure that all child protection measures have been followed.
The community member must:

  • complete a tax declaration form
  • provide relevant bank details for payroll
  • principals enter the school number, hours worked by the community member and sign the teacher relief salary claim form. Each 45 minute session is considered one hour’s pay
  • forward the claim form to the Sport Coordination Officer who will counter sign, enter the account codes and then send the form to payroll to be paid.

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) and then seeks reimbursement. To claim reimbursement the schools need to provide the following information to NSW School Sport:

  • the expenditure reconciliation form requesting reimbursement
  • program analysis and report
  • a copy of a paid invoice from the swim centre.

Upon reviewing the request for reimbursement, the school will be contacted to advise the amount to be reimbursed and the process to follow.


Primary aged students with disabilities and additional needs are encouraged to participate in the School Swimming and Water Safety Program. Schools should provide individual health plans for students who require them.

Where possible lessons for students with specific needs are run with greatly reduced teacher to student ratios. This ratio is usually one teacher to one student, for 20 minutes. In some cases, where students are more capable, classes of one teacher to two or three students will be conducted for 30 minutes. When considering a ratio of one teacher to two or three students, the following must be considered:

  • Swimming level must be compatible
  • Children must be able to follow instructions
  • It must be safe in the water for the students
  • It must be safe for the teacher
  • It must be on the discretion of the TIC after students' swimming levels have been assessed.

For Workplace Health and Safety reasons, a rotational system should be used to ensure that Program staff takes regular breaks. This aims to reduce the effects of dehydration due to the physical nature of the lesson. This should mean that at any given moment, there will be one swimming teacher not taking a class.

Many schools for specific purposes have a pool on site. In these cases, the program is timetabled so that the school pool can be used.

Schools need to ensure that there is sufficient accompanying staff to supervise the students changing, following the guidelines regarding student privacy. Students that require assistance entering and leaving the pool must be supported by school staff.

Schools need to consider:

  • A student may be compliant in the classroom, however may not be compliant in the pool
  • Students may tire quickly
  • Play time in the water is not the same as swimming lessons. This is swimming and water safety, not a recreational play opportunity
  • Our goal is for each and every student is that they learn to swim and be safe in and around water.

The one teacher to one student ratio is the most beneficial and effective way to teach students with additional needs. The student is safe, the instructors are safe, and the 20 minute lesson is very productive and professional.

Any students that are known to suffer from a seizure condition needs to have an individual pool deck spotter while they are in the pool.