Investigating a win, win situation: delivering quality swimming experiences for children in local primary schools within the Gippsland region, through teacher education.
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The goals established at the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December, 2008) were “about equity and social justice and improved learning outcomes for our most disadvantaged and isolated students” (Ewing, 2010, p. 127). A commitment to action in achieving these goals included: promoting world-class curriculum and assessment; and improving educational outcomes for the disadvantaged young Australians, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. A large percentage of the Gippsland region population comprises of socio-economically disadvantaged. Implementation of the Health and Physical Education (HPE) learning area within Australian rural primary schools and specifically swimming and water safety often presents obstacles. “Research suggests that rural and isolated schools find it most difficult to conduct aquatic activities.” (Peden, Franklin & Larsen, 2009, p. 200). In Semester One, 2011 as part of the Bachelor of Primary Education course at Monash – Gippsland, a pathway was created to achieve these national ideals and goals through implementing swimming and water safety education. Primary education students, choosing the Physical Education major stream, were provided with the opportunity to gain swimming and water safety discipline knowledge and subsequently qualifications (a Victorian Institute of Teachers registration requirement) in; the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) - Swim Australia Teacher (SAT), Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) Bronze Medallion and RLSSA Resuscitation courses. ASCTA is Australia’s peak professional swimming body and courses are recognised by the International Federation of Swim Teachers Association (IFTSTA), thus providing a world class curriculum. As part of the SAT swimming and water safety course the university students provided low ratio, quality lessons for local primary school children (from a disadvantaged socio-economic Gippsland region), free of charge. Dr. Tim Lynch, Senior Lecturer at Monash University reflects on this win, win situation; sharing the highs and lows, room for improvement and the dynamics involved when collaboratively working within industry partnerships and a number of stakeholders.
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