News - Tags: Active Schools

Tags: Active Schools

Every child able to swim: Active Oxfordshire’s Water Safety Summit

Posted: Mon, 10 May 2021 13:11

Every child able to swim: Active Oxfordshire’s Water Safety Summit

In Oxfordshire, we are surrounded by waterways however only 65% of our County's children can swim 25 metres by age 11 with only 55% of children being able to perform self-rescue by age 11. Even more worryingly, in our most disadvantaged areas, only 25% of children are able to swim. Active Oxfordshire is investing £50,000 in this area of work over the next 12 months given the severity of the situation currently in the County.

On 28th April, Active Oxfordshire was joined by national governing bodies, local authorities, charities, leisure providers, schools, and universities for an Oxfordshire Water Safety and Swimming Summit that showcased the work from Cherwell District Council & Legacy Leisure, Oxford Hub and Above Water who are tackling the different barriers that stop children and their families being able to swim. Topics included: the state of play for water safety and swimming in Oxfordshire with the latest data and insight, Above Water's work within education settings, Cherwell District Council & Legacy Leisure's support for residents to overcome cultural barriers to swimming, and partnership working in Oxford addressing the disparity in swimming attainment between high and low affluence families.

Josh Lenthall, Strategic Children & Young People Relationship Manager at Active Oxfordshire shared his thoughts on the event:

"The summit was an opportunity to take stock of the shocking inequalities in swimming and water safety in Oxfordshire and to share solutions. Children from less affluent households in the county face significant barriers to learning to swim and it was fantastic to hear how three of our partners are tackling these issues."

Sara Fernandez, CEO of Oxford Hub said:

Through our community work with children and families we have learned about the challenges of learning how to swim, particularly for those who are most economically disadvantaged. We are excited to be working with Active Oxfordshire, Radley College and other partners across the city to make swimming more accessible to families and ensure those less likely to learn are offered support that fits perfectly around their needs.

The impact of COVID-19 saw many projects put on hold due to school closures. Fortunately, with a timely arrival of Opening School Facilities funding from Sport England, delivery is being planned for work across the school partnership in Cherwell to provide swimming opportunities to benefit current Year 7 pupils who missed swimming during Year 6, with the aim of improving their ability to swim 25m.

To get involved and help us achieve our ambition of every child in Oxfordshire able to swim, please contact

Tags: Active Schools

Cherwell's Youth Activator Harry Baker on keeping children active during COVID-19

Posted: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:16

Cherwell's Youth Activator Harry Baker on keeping children active during COVID-19

At Active Oxfordshire, we work closely with Cherwell District Council to promote their highly successful FAST Programme, which provides affordable, fun and creative activities for children and families to enjoy. We've been talking to one of Cherwell's Youth Activators Harry about the challenges posed by COVID-19, and the difference getting active has made to children's mental as well as physical health:

My name is Harry and I am a Youth Activator for Cherwell District Council. I have been in the role for just over a year, which involves us going into different schools across the district and delivering fun and exciting sports sessions. We also ran the FAST programme, which is an after-school programme which gets the parent/guardian and child to exercise together in a fun way playing lots of different games and having specialist sports coaches coming in over a period of ten weeks.

How has COVID-19 impacted on your normal activities?

A lot has changed since I first started the role last year in September 2019, when we would predominantly deliver team games where children from all different classes would integrate and develop their communication and social skills. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 we have had to adapt our sessions to ensure everyone is still getting a good amount of exercise. We now deliver circuit-based exercises which allows the students to work individually and ensures they can socially distance. We now give each student a hoop 2 metres apart from each other, where they can complete the exercises - our sessions normally consist of 15 minutes of hard work! This includes 30 seconds of squats to 30 seconds of running on the spot. Once we have finished the circuits, we do 15 minutes of games such as musical statues and the reaction game.

We also deliver these circuit-based exercises at the FAST sessions, having each family in their own bubble with their groups of hoops together. The FAST programme helps get the whole family active in a time when everyone needs it - as many people are working from home, it's important to get out and keep exercising as a family to look after our physical and mental health.

Protecting children's mental health and well-being

This pandemic has been very challenging for a lot of people, with our youngest generations not able to enjoy their usual activities or see friends in the same way. With the support of Matt Gregor at Resilient Young Minds and Oxfordshire Mind, we created a 6-week Mental Health programme, which we now deliver to schools across the Cherwell District. The course consists of two parts with a half an hour presentation which looks at teaching the children how to manage their emotions as well as improving life skills such as resilience and self-esteem. The rest of the session consists of 30 minutes physical exercise, because extensive studies have found physical activity has a positive effect on people's mental health. You can see the impact that this fantastic programme has had below.

Thank you Harry, and keep up the amazing work!

Active Oxfordshire's Active 60 campaign aims to bring together families, partners and schools to make sure that every child in Oxfordshire can achieve 60 active minutes, every day. To find out more and get involved, please visit our Active 60 campaign page here.

Tags: Active Schools, Blog