Between 2017 and 2019, Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) commissioned two research projects with the University of Otago’s School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, to understand better the impact of Water Skills For Life on children’s water safety and survival of drowning now, and in the future.
A number of important learnings for the water safety sector emerged from this and other reports:
- That generally, children do have a low level of water skills understanding and ability and this needs to be improved.
- That children retain what they’ve learnt better with repeat and frequent skills training.
- That learnt skills can be retained better if they are learnt in authentic environments.
In New Zealand, even though most drownings occur in open water, the majority of Water Skills For Life delivery occurs in swimming pools. It is hypothesised that learning Water Skills For Life in an authentic water environment will better prepare people to develop water competencies when exposed to open water environments.
WSNZ is making water safety and Water Skills for Life an integral part of a child’s learning through the Health & PE Curriculum. Furthermore, to make it truly effective to ensure a generational improvement in children’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around water, we are embedding Water Skills For Life into authentic environmental education to make water safety skills training reflective of real-life experiences. The new programme is Water Skills For Life Beach.
Water Skills For Life Beach will feature the inclusion of:
- Exploring and promoting opportunities to teach water safety knowledge and skills to New Zealanders in open water environments
- Identifying and supporting expert organisations best placed to provide education in different open water environments
- Liaising and lobbying with the Ministry of Education and NZ Schools to consider how best to integrate open water safety education with swimming pool based
skill acquisition programs
Water Skills For Life Beach incorporates all the learnings from the foundation programme, Water Skills for Life Pool, with in-depth learning around beach/rocky foreshore recreation and water safety.
The programme is being piloted in Term 4 2021 and Term 1 2022. It will have various learning components, which can be experienced in the classroom, on field trips to the beach (dryland), pool/wave pool and in, on and around the water at the beach.