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Forms for Schools

Pool Safety Operating Procedures

What are they?

Pool Safety Operating Procedures are written documentation which informs pool staff and users of the working practices of the establishment and the actions to be taken in an emergency.  These form part of essential Health & Safety policy.  The length and details of these procedures will vary from pool to pool, but it is essential that all teachers are familiar with, and fully understand, those aspects that affect the activities with which they are involved. Teachers should sign as having read and understood them.

Who is responsible for compiling them?

The pool operator is required by law to undertake this and is the person who is ultimately responsible for operating the swimming pool and everything that happens in it.  The pool operator is normally the on-site pool manager representing the local council, a private company, the school head teacher or the local education authority.  Where appropriate, this task can be delegated.  At some school swimming pools, for example, the swimming teacher may be more familiar with the operation of the pool than the head teacher.  In this case, the swimming teacher should liaise closely to formulate the official operating procedures.

When are they renewed?

Procedures are reviewed annually, on a regular basis and especially after any emergency.

Hire of Pool to outside organisations:

check-list or points for inclusion in contracts

a) Information on numbers participating and their swimming skills
b) Name of hirer’s representative(s) who will be in charge of the group
c) Numbers and skills/qualifications of lifeguards to be present during the session and whether these will be provided by the hirer or by the pool operator
d) Copies of normal and emergency action plans for hirer, with signed acknowledgment that these have been read and understood
e) Specific agreement on the respective responsibilities of the pool operator and the hirer for action in any emergency. A distinction needs to be drawn between:

  • Emergencies arising from the activities of the group using the pool
  • Other emergencies (structural or power failures etc.) Responsibility for the safe operation of the pool will remain with the pool operator. The pool operator will need to ensure that competent staff are in attendance during the hire session

f) Any rules of behaviour to be enforced during the session
g) Any advice to be given to participants e.g. avoiding alcohol and food immediately before swimming

Class Management & Safety

The BT/ASA National Curriculum Training Programme Survey results, published in 1997, identified that 54% of school teachers involved in the teaching of school swimming lessons in England and Wales as having no swimming teaching qualifications.

The points identified below are only those which are fundamental to safe practice and the prevention of accidents.  The full range of class management skills will be properly developed during a recognised swimming teaching and coaching training course.

In the Changing Rooms

  • Changing rooms should be well supervised
  • Pupils should remove sweets, chewing gum etc. from their mouths before going onto the poolside
  • Pupils should also remove jewellery, watches etc. and arrangements should be made for safekeeping
  • All pupils must wear a swim cap

On the Poolside

  • Count the number of pupils (register taken) before and after the activity, as well as at intervals during the activity
  • Pupils should not enter the water before being given permission
  • Pupils should notify you if they are leaving the pool for any reason and report when they return
  • Do not allow pupils to run on the poolside
  • Do not allow them to push each other into the pool
  • Do not allow diving into shallow water (below 1.8m)
  • All pool entries should be safely executed, appropriate for the depth of water and the ability of the pupil, with adequate water space free of other pupils
  • Do not allow jumping in below 1.5m, pupils must be encouraged to bend their knees on entry to reduce the impact
  • Ensure all pupils have understood all the safety instructions particularly if there are problems with understanding of language
  • Ensure adequate safety/rescue equipment is in place e.g. poles, rings
  • An accessible telephone, connected to an external line, should be available to summon the emergency services in an emergency
  • Appropriately qualified lifeguards should be present if identified in the NOP

In the Water

  • Pupils who are non-swimmers should be contained in a clearly defined area e.g. with marker ropes
  • All pupils should be ‘tested’ by you in shallow water before being allowed out of their depth
  • Pushing, ducking or splashing other pupils should not be allowed
  • If lanes are used by the pupils, you must instruct them on lane etiquette
  • Additional clothing such as that used for survival swimming must be clean, should not be restrictive,  must be easily removed and cleared from the pool as soon as discarded


  • Keep moving to ensure all pupils are continuously observed
  • Be aware of the effects of refraction and reflection of light on the water
  • Uou should not be in the water with a pupil, unless there is adequate supervision for the rest of the pupils
  • Be the last to leave, having counted the pupils and walked around the pool to check the pool floor


  • Expect good behaviour from your pupils at all times
  • Signals must be understood and obeyed immediately, especially signals to stop activities and move to safety (or get out)
  • It is strongly advised that all user groups follow the whistle procedure as detailed in the Normal Operating Procedures
  • Sanctions for unacceptable behaviour can include a verbal warning, sitting out, getting dressed

Pupil to Teacher Ratios

In the majority of cases, pupil/teacher ratios should not exceed 20:1 – and in some cases should be less. 

If the teacher is also responsible for pupils not in the water but on the poolside, the ratio may need to be smaller.  It is recommended that the teacher or coach should remain on the poolside during each session.  If they enter the water, another adult must take over supervision.

Always refer to Managing Health & Safety in Swimming (HSE) for further reference.

Click here to download the above document

King Edward VII Science and Sport College is an exempt charity and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England with Company Number 8158225 and has a registered office at Warren Hills Road, Coalville, Leicestershire LE67 4UW