Schools urged to be more proactive on water safety

Some 30 children have drowned over the last 10 years in Ireland, yet the water safety curriculum in schools remains largely untaught, according to the new chairman of Irish Water Safety (IWS).

Martin O’Sullivan called on schools to be proactive about protecting pupils.

Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government, recently announced the appointment of Mr O’Sullivan to the statutory and voluntary body.

Mr O’Sullivan says that just 10% of Irish primary schools are signed up for the Primary Aquatics Water Safety curriculum.

“Thirty children aged 14 and under drowned in the last 10 years so I appeal to schools to teach water safety in the classroom so that children learn good habits,” he said. “I fear that many children lack an awareness of how to stay safe. We are deeply grateful to those schools that issued over 50,000 certificates and I am appealing to the other 90% of schools, teachers, and indeed parents to adopt the water safety programme in the school year ahead.”

Mr O’Sullivan has also appealed to parents to enroll children in upcoming IWS annual lifesaving classes.

The winter series of classes run by volunteers for children and adults nationwide complement the water safety curriculum that IWS developed for primary schools.

Mr O’Sullivan said their volunteers are influencing a cultural shift in the safety consciousness of both children and adults in, on, and around water.

“We now need more schools and parents to instill a healthy respect for our wonderful aquatic environments that in turn encourages both adults and children to embrace water based activities safely.”

Information on classes can be obtained at iws.ie

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