FIFE Council should "think bigger" and find the money to teach our primary school children to swim.

Councillor Kathleen Leslie is the convener of a scrutiny committee that was told recently it'd cost £2.2 million a year to put pool time back into the curriculum for all P6 kids.

While some questioned if that would be an effective use of scant resources - "money down the drain" was mentioned - the proposal has not been ruled out.

Cllr Leslie said: "If we were to think bigger and provide swimming as an inclusive part of our primary school year, this would mean that there is a much higher possibility that all children will be able to swim.

"It would also remove any barriers with transport, rural locations and deprivation.

Dunfermline Press: Fife Council say that teaching all P6 kids to swim would cost £2.2 million a year. Fife Council say that teaching all P6 kids to swim would cost £2.2 million a year. (Image: Newsquest)

"By doing so at primary school would also lessen the barriers that often appear, particularly for girls, in wanting to take part in mixed swimming as they get older at school.

READ MORE: Fife Sports and Leisure Trust give reassurance to learners

“We have been told the total cost would be around £2.2m per annum.

"Committee has now requested a report later this year with full detail of numbers, associated costs, centre availability and funding swimming equipment.

"That way it will become clearer if this is something that the council should consider in the future as policy.”

The report to her committee earlier this month was the outcome of a motion tabled a year ago by Dunfermline councillor Aude Boubaker-Calder.

She wants every child to be able to swim 25 metres by the time they leave primary school and was dismayed that it was not a "priority" for the Scottish Government.

A council report said it would cost £110,000 per year for additional instructors, £970,000 for pool hire and £1.1m for transport costs but the committee sought more details.

Cllr Leslie said she had previously raised the issue in 2021 due to concerns about the "disproportionate number of drownings" in Scottish waters in recent years and an "alarming" report from the World Health Organisation that listed drowning as the third highest cause of accidental death of young people.

She pointed out that replacement schools do not have pools - by 2026 none of the five West Fife high schools will have one - and the offering in the Kingdom was "fairly ad-hoc".

The Conservative councillor went on: “There are initiatives during the summer months and a selection of lessons provided both by Fife Sports and Leisure Trust and private providers.

READ MORE: Decision on future of Inverkeithing High pool put off until Autumn

"This is all welcomed but these do not cover all young people."

At the committee Cllr Alicia Hayes said that a third of English primary pupils still leave school without being able to swim - despite swimming being mandatory on the curriculum - and far fewer have the skills to save their own lives in the water.

She said the money being spent there was "clearly not working".

This week, Cllr Leslie said they were in danger of getting "bogged down" in the argument of what goes on elsewhere.

She stated: "Whilst there may be some difference of opinion on how we address this, there is an understanding that swimming is a life skill and one that we should want all our children and young people to be able to do.

"Ultimately, it could save your life.”