The Philosophy

There are two predominant groups of people who drown in the UK. One of these is 15-21+yr old mid- to late-adolescent young men. We know that appeals to their common sense won’t prevent them from doing dangerous things or engaging in activities that are beyond their capability. The only way to hope to prevent them from drowning is to educate them earlier, especially in the 11-14yr age range.

Young people are under a lot of pressure academically, and they (and their parents) sometimes prefer to engage with activities that relate to their school work. Clubs and courses in lifesaving help them apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world. And lifesaving can enrich almost any discipline.

By relating lifesaving lessons to the subjects pupils are learning the instructor can help them gain confidence and build their knowledge quicker.

School teachers refer to two concepts – stretch and challenge. To achieve these it helps to have a ready source of relevant material that brings subjects alive to students. Lifesaving provides a wide range of material that can be used in just this way. This is what teaching guru, Mike Gershon, says about them:

Classroom stretch and challenge encompasses two distinct but related strands. First, there is stretching and challenging the thinking of all learners. Second, there is stretching and challenging more-able learners (also referred to as the most-able learners and, sometimes, gifted and talented learners). Both strands are important.
Stretching and challenging all learners means creating lessons where challenge is at the forefront of teaching and learning. This takes learners out of their comfort zone, encouraging them to push towards the outer edge of what is possible for them to achieve.

Stretch and Challenge Training, INSET and CPD | Mike Gershon

Here are some resources that explain the concept and how it works:

5 key strategies for stretch and challenge – NACE

Stretch and Challenge (

Understanding challenge activities – Oxford Education Blog (

Graham Wilson
I’ve been teaching lifesaving for nearly 50 years, but only became a teacher in Further Education, and tutor in Higher Education, 10 years ago. For some time, I was Chair of Surrey Branch of the Royal Life Saving Society, and am a National Trainer Assessor in Life Saving with them.
I am fairly active on the RLSS Membership Facebook Forum, where I try to post items that will be of interest mainly for TAs to incorporate into discussions within their classes.
Over the last few years, I have been involved in a range of outreach activities and local Water Safety Forums. It has been this last activity that inspired me to want to create this resource.
Thank you.






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