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Changes proposed for councils' school swim service

Schools and education

05 July 2022

Child swimming with the aid of a float

The way the councils’ school swimming service is run across Northamptonshire may change. Accessing swimming lessons would become more streamlined for schools and cost-effective for the councils.

In recent years there has been a decline in demand for the council school swimming service from schools. Currently only 33% of schools utilise the council swimming service, the rest – the majority - booking directly with pools and leisure providers.

A decision on the future of the council-run service is set to be taken by North and West Northamptonshire Councils’ Shared Service Joint Committee on 13 July, 2022. 

If the recommendation is approved, North and West Northamptonshire Councils will no longer be providers of school swimming lessons, effective from December 31, 2022. 

The change would: 

  • Allow schools to deal directly with pool providers to negotiate pool space and times that are accessible to them.   
  • Ensure schools are able to access pools that are nearest to them.   
  • Improve communication between schools and pool providers without having to go through a Council managed system.   
  • To ensure that the service does not run at a deficit for NNC and WNC. 
Times change and increasingly schools are going directly to pools to arrange their lessons as it's easier for them to do so.

Our proposals will make the service less complicated to use which is better for schools and pools, while at the same time reducing the financial risk to the councils.

By timing the changes to the end of the calendar year it gives schools and pools the Autumn term to put alternative arrangements in place.
Cllr Helen Howell, Deputy Leader of North Northamptonshire Council and Executive member for Sport, Leisure, Culture and Tourism


Many schools value having swimming lessons, and we hope that these changes will make it easier to incorporate swimming into their timetable and find a pool that is accessible to them.

Should the Committee decide to progress this recommendation, we’ll make sure all schools are kept fully informed and updated on future service changes and what these mean for them.
Cllr Adam Brown, WNC’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for housing, culture and leisure


The school swimming service is a traded service that was scheduled to disaggregate by October 1, 2022. 

It is a non-statutory function for local authorities as it is the responsibility of each individual school to provide swimming services for its students. 

Schools decide how they secure their curricular school swimming either via direct arrangements with local pools or otherwise outsourcing from the countywide school swimming service, which links schools with pools and swimming instructors, to deliver swimming lessons at a pool in their area.

With fewer schools using the service, it has not always broken financially even and in 2021/2022 it ran at a forecasted deficit of £32,474.

If the recommendation is approved by the Shared Service Joint Committee, a full consultation with the staff affected by this proposal will be launched soon, this will give them the opportunity to raise any other suggestions that we may have not considered. 

If the results of the consultation support this decision, where possible staff will be supported to find alternative positions within the Councils.