School swimming service under threat

STAFF at Suffolk’s school swimming service say they have been told their department will be axed – and 45 jobs will go.

It is understood consultation is taking place with headteachers across the county over the proposal, part of the budget cuts needed in the wake of the reduction in public spending.

It would not mean the end of swimming tuition for school children but in future schools would have to make arrangements for travelling to a pool and tuition themselves, and would find it more costly to arrange than the deals organised by the countywide service.

Some schools also have their own swimming pools and these would not be affected.

Staff at the service have asked for an extension to the consultation because they believe it is unfair to have the deadline, December 31, during a holiday period and also want their ideas for an alternative service put forward.

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One staff member, from Felixstowe, said: “We have been told the service will end in July and 45 people will lose their jobs.

“Not every school has its own pool and many parents cannot afford or do not have the time to take their children for swimming sessions – it is a vital life skill which children should learn.

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“It is even more vital for health and fitness, expecially when everyone is talking about exercise and obesity.

“Our managers wanted to put forward alternative ways the service could be run as part of the consultation with the schools but were just told no.”

The worker, who asked not to be named, said the alternatives would have cost the schools more than the current arrangements, but might have been preferred as it would mean the schools would not have had the responsibility and hassle of organising swimming lessons.

It would also save some jobs.

No-one was available to comment from Suffolk County Council on the responses so far from schools.

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