Swim school defends ‘unfair’ fail

"Discouraged" . . . Kelly (right) believes her 10-year-old daughter was unfairly held back a class in a new swimming school at Moana Pool in Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The Dunedin City Council is unfairly failing children enrolled in its new swim school, a mother says.

Kelly – a Dunedin mother who asked that her surname not be published, to save her child from embarrassment – said her 10-year-old daughter had swimming lessons at Moana Pool for several years and was enrolled in the Swimsation programme in term two of this year.

The council dropped Swimsation and launched its new in-house swimming school, Just Swim, from the start of term three on Monday.

Nearly 1800 people have signed up for the new school.

A Just Swim assessor watched her daughter in a Swimsation class in term two and decided she could not progress to the next class with her peers, as she could not complete a specific swimming skill.

As her daughter failed the test, she was now in a class with children aged as young as 7, and was feeling “discouraged”.

“She feels like she is no good because she has been kept back,” Kelly said.

She said the Just Swim assessor should have communicated what new skills children needed to demonstrate so parents had an opportunity to teach their children the skills themselves.

The council had “shifted the goal posts” by replacing Swimsation and introducing new skills for children to demonstrate, she said.

Her daughter was considering quitting Just Swim lessons.

“I want her to carry on because swimming is a good skill to have.”

The council was too strict and needed to be flexible because her daughter was competent in other swimming skills.

Pool manager Nicola Jukes said she encouraged parents with concerns to contact Moana Pool directly.

“We’re happy to re-assess them if requested.”

No-one had contacted Moana Pool staff with concerns about assessments, she said.

“We’re very sorry to hear that one of our customers feels discouraged – that certainly isn’t our intention.”

Children who had lessons in term two were assessed by instructors, and put in the Just Swim class considered to be most appropriate for their ability.

An email was sent to Swimsation customers on June 25 saying “the names and goals of levels had been changed and we are assessing children to place them in the appropriate level”.

When asked if parents were informed their children would be assessed on skills they had not been taught, Ms Jukes said any communication would have been made verbally.

“Maybe we didn’t get to everybody.”

When asked why instructors were not teaching children the skills they were to be assessed on, she said it was due to a franchise agreement.

“We were still under the Swimsation franchise and we weren’t allowed to do anything outside of our obligations to that franchise.”

The instructors could not teach skills other than those in the franchise agreement, she said.