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Private schools urged to open up swimming pools.

Private schools urged to open up swimming pools.

A new drive to encourage private schools to share their swimming pools is being launched by the government amid concerns about the number of children who emerge from primary school unable to swim.

This weekend the education secretary, Damian Hinds, who has three young children, called on private schools to open up their pools to state pupils in their area.

Fewer than half of all British children are able to swim 25 metres by the time they reach the age of 11. Schools will get a share of a £320m fund to help boost swimming lessons, he said.

While the Department for Education has not proposed any new measures to compel private schools to open their pools, Hinds said he was personally determined to “make sure our children grow up safe and water confident”. “Many independent schools are already doing this, but others can and must do more to help every child in their community,” he said.

The issue is likely to reopen the debate on whether private schools’ ability to claim charitable status should be predicated on their willingness to share their sports facilities with state school pupils.

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