‘Kids TV personalities’ job description encompasses desirable teacher traits
A national shortage of swim teachers is being overcome by a recruitment drive targeting “kids TV personalities” in a bid to encourage children to learn to swim and improve water safety.
The initiative by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd, which asked for young and bubbly characters, attracted 12 new recruits through active schools ‘Sports Leaders Academies’, helping to enable 500 kids to receive swimming lessons at one of the nine leisure clubs with a pool in the area.
The national teacher shortage was exacerbated by the pandemic with many staff members choosing to leave their jobs to work for vaccination centres or testing facilities.
This is why the recruitment drive – in collaboration with the national Learn to Swim programme – became a necessity for Stewart Hunter, Recreation Manager at South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd.
He said: “The shortage of teachers meant less and less kids were able to access the swimming lessons which can form a memorable and sometimes vital part of childhood.
““Instead of targeting our job adverts towards experienced and competent swimmers which weren’t receiving the normal traction, the ‘Kids TV personalities’ campaign focused on employing people who instead were well-natured and natural at speaking to children.
“It can take years for kids to become able and confident swimmers which is why we want them to enjoy their swimming lessons as much as possible during the time they are there. We want to provide children with not only a great lesson, but also a great time. Teachers should be engaging, fun, nurturing and be able to easily converse with kids.
“Having sound back-up knowledge is also important of course, but this is something that can be taught. Getting the right personalities for the job was of the upmost importance to us.”
To begin with, the South Lanarkshire trust targeted three high schools in the area; Carluke High School, Lanark Grammar School and Lesmahagow High School with their ‘kids TV personalities’ angle, leading to the recruitment of four kids from each of the schools and therefore providing 12 teaching contracts.
Stewart said: “We have experienced great success from the initiative. The 12 teachers that we recruited provide 48 hours of lessons a week across Carluke, Colburn and Lanark leisure centres and our centre member numbers are slowly rising back up to pre-covid rates.
“The recruitment drive has been so successful that we are now continuing the reach out to other South Lanarkshire schools with the aim of taking on more teaching staff.
“Our primary goals that we are going to continue working towards are to ensure all of our teachers achieve the highest qualification a swimming teacher can receive by taking them through the appropriate training.”
South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd is also striving to ensure that every child is able to swim 25m by the time they leave school and those that can’t will receive more lessons.
Almost 2,000 people are currently on the waiting list across the leisure clubs in South Lanarkshire and there is a 90% participation rate in swimming lessons.
The national Learn to Swim programme was developed to help children of all abilities to become confident, safer and competent swimmers. It is aimed at youngsters from birth upwards and provides consistently high-quality teaching at least once a week and which progresses through a series of lessons and levels over a number of years.
Over the first four years of the partnership, it has provided lessons to around 106,000 kids.
It aims to reach another 100,000 kids by 2025.
Learn to Swim is championed by Scotland’s swimming superstars, World Champions and Olympic and Paralympic medallists Duncan Scott and Toni Shaw as its Ambassadors.
More information on the Learn to Swim Framework can be found on the dedicated website: https://learntoswim.scot/
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