It would cost Fife Council £2.2 million a year to give all P6 children the opportunity to learn to swim.

But there are fears that copying the example set in England and paying for kids to get back in the pool would effectively be "money down the drain". 

In response to a motion from Dunfermline Central Lib Dem councillor Aude Boubaker-Calder, who wants lessons back on the primary school curriculum, a report was presented to the education scrutiny committee on Tuesday.

In it Shelagh McLean, Fife Council’s head of education and children’s services, explained: "The overall cost to enable all Primary 6 children in Fife (approximately 4,024) the opportunity to learn to swim over a 38 week period is £2.2m.

"This includes £110,000 per year for additional instructors, £970,000 for pool hire and £1.1m for transport costs.” 

READ MORE: Swim lessons will 'still be delivered seamlessly' when pools in West Fife close

There was no further breakdown of costs or necessary infrastructure to roll out swimming provision as part of a primary curriculum. 

“I’m concerned that the report that has been presented is not what the council was asking for,” Cllr Boubaker-Calder claimed.

“[The motion] asked officers to look at how much it would cost us and what’s missing in terms of infrastructure. And I fear this report doesn’t answer the questions.” 

Dunfermline Press: There are already long waiting lists for swimming lessons in Fife and a number of pools are set to close.There are already long waiting lists for swimming lessons in Fife and a number of pools are set to close. (Image: Newsquest)

Convener, Cllr Kathleen Leslie, agreed that the scrutiny committee was “still looking for that detail”. 

Last year the council said reintroducing swimming as part of the school curriculum would be a "huge challenge" due to pool closures, lack of funds and spiralling energy bills.

At the committee meeting, Cllr Alycia Hayes said: “In an ideal world, I would fully back the idea that every child should have access to swim lessons within the school curriculum. 

“But the bottom line is that the cost of educating kids in swimming comes to £2.2m. Would that money be well spent or effectively spent?” 

Looking at test cases from England, Cllr Hayes said that a third of English primary pupils still leave school without being able to swim and far fewer have the skills to save their own lives in the water. 

“It may be an obligatory part of education in England, but it’s clearly not working there. It’s money down the drain,” she said.

Cllr Hayes said the council must “accept realities and not ideologies”. 

Cllr Boubaker-Calder had previously argued that swim provision was removed from the curriculum in 2015 when the Scottish Government pulled funding of £1.7m to support school swimming lessons.

Aiming to reprioritise a healthy pursuit and key life-saving skill, she said she ultimately wants every child to be able to swim 25 metres by the time they leave primary school.

Ms McLean’s report detailed the current swimming provision in Fife - through the council, Active Schools and Fife Sports and Leisure Trust - and looked at future options for expansion. 

As well as the trust's award-winning learn to swim programme, there are opportunities for underprivileged children to access swimming costumes and alleviate transport costs. 

However, there is no universal term time swimming offer provided free of charge for primary aged children.

The report suggested that Fife continue identifying places to reduce and eliminate barriers such as cost and transport.  

Cllr Hayes concluded: “For me, the solution is searching on how we can recruit more swim teachers and enable Fife Sports and Leisure Trust to make the availability of swimming more widespread so there isn’t a wait list and people can access swimming lessons.”

However, the majority of committee members said more detail was necessary before they could make a recommendation on whether to reinstate swimming lessons in the primary curriculum.