Learn to swim, education proposal says

EVERY Australian child will learn basic swimming and water safety skills under a proposed new health and physical education curriculum, School Education Minister Peter Garrett says.

Those skills, along with first-aid and dealing with bullying, are key features of the draft Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education released for consultation on Saturday.

“This is the first time there will be a national curriculum covering essential knowledge and skills such as water safety, first-aid, health and nutrition, mental wellbeing, dealing with bullying, and sex education,” Mr Garrett said.

“Every student will be required to learn basic water safety, how to propel their body forward in water and basic first-aid.”

Mr Garrett said he would be asking the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to consider strengthening the standards to include a minimum achievement in swimming and water safety. Some state syllabuses already have a minimum achievement for swimming such as NSW where Year 6 students should be able to safely swim 25m.

“I think the community expects that wherever possible, every student should be able to swim,” Mr Garrett said.

“Too many Australians die from drowning each year, with 284 people drowning in the 12 months to June this year according to Royal Life Saving. We need to do all we can to prevent this.”

Mr Garrett said the draft curriculum had a strong focus on mental wellbeing and resilience, including dealing with behaviours such as bullying and harassment.

The curriculum would help ensure all students knew that bullying was wrong and what they should do if they were bullied.

The curriculum consultation will end on April 12 next year and the final curriculum will go to all education ministers for approval later in 2013 for rolling out from 2014 if approved.

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