Specification safeguarding young children being taught to swim, is published

13 October 2015

BSI, the business standards company, has published PAS 520 Safeguarding 0 to 4 year old children within the teaching of swimming, including any associated professional photography. Code of practice. The guidance was sponsored by Water Babies with input from organizations such as The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), NSPCC/Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) and Splash About International Ltd.

The market for teaching very young children to swim is now well developed and quite extensive, with a number of established providers. However, as this is an attractive and growing commercial opportunity to new entrants in this arena, there is a need to create a common approach. Currently, providers vary in size, services offered, and safeguarding processes and procedures. There is no agreed process regarding minimum expected levels for safeguarding very young children learning to swim.

Smaller, very commercially driven businesses could try to enter this market with little or no regard for such safeguarding standards, putting children at risk. In addition to this, the popularity of photography during swimming lessons is rising. Many photographers of other types of events such as weddings, are now offering to photograph very young children being taught to swim, despite them being unregulated and having no training or expertise in this field. Again, this could cause a significant safeguarding risk to children and their parents.

Anne Hayes, Head of Market Development for Risk at BSI said: “The need for a Code of Practice such as PAS 520, is great. This matter concerns any parent or child care provider looking to employ someone to teach their very young child how to swim. How can they know that the person(s) they are entrusting their child photography services to, is not placing their child at risk? Having peace of mind is essential, and this specification can offer that by setting in place a series of unified guidelines that all entrants to the market should follow.”

PAS 520 is based on self-regulation by the industry and sets a minimum standard for providers and reduces risks from new entrants. It covers all aspects of operation, management and development of a commercial swimming business or programme in this specialist area and clearly addresses the safeguarding of the end user.

It does not cover the safeguarding of children over the age of 4 years of age. Nor does it cover photography that is separate to the teaching of swimming, or the safety/suitability of buoyancy/toy equipment other than that which is used for the teaching and/or photography of children aged 0 to 4 years.

Steve Franks, Managing Director at Water Babies said: “This specification represents a new line in the sand for the delivery of best industry practice, acknowledging the size and scope of our industry sector where over 430,000 pre-school aged children participated in swimming lessons last year alone.” 

PAS 520 is of relevance to all providers of the swimming teaching, and/or associated photography, professional bodies, pool owners/operators/managers, national governing bodies and related organizations, children's charities, consumer groups and swimming apparel retailers amongst others.

Some of the other organizations involved in the collaborative consensus-based development of PAS 520 includes: The British Society of Underwater Photographers, Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA),  Marriott Hotels, Perkins Slade, Royal Life Saving Society UK, Swimming Nature and ukactive.