Primary and Intermediate School Programmes

Aquatic Education in Primary and Intermediate Schools

There is evidence to suggest a close connection between water safety education (knowledge and skills) during childhood and the prevention of drowning (Lynch, 2012; Moran, 2013; Stallman, R., Junge, M., & Blixt, T., 2008). Current evidence recommends 15 water competencies be taught to prevent drowning (Langendorfer, S.J., Moran, K., & Stallman, R.K., 2018; Stallman, R.K., Moran, K., Quan, L., & Langendorfer, S., 2017).

Water competence is ‘the sum of all personal aquatic movements that help to prevent drowning as well as the associated water safety knowledge, attitudes values, judgement and behaviours that facilitate safety in, on and around water’ (Moran, 2013).

Does the aquatic education programme in your school enable students to learn water competence?

Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for Teachers

Drowning Prevention Auckland provides PLD for teachers in aquatic education across the NZC (2007), including the 15 competencies for drowning prevention (Stallman et al, 2017).

PLD is provided both on-site at your school (free) for all teachers, and off-site for teachers from various schools (minimal cost to help cover venue and pool hire).  

On-site PLD will be planned to best meet the needs of teachers and schools, and to ensure it is an enjoyable, non-threatening learning experience for all, regardless of confidence and expertise. This experience will likely include an initial theory session with the option of follow-up sessions including one-on-one time with teachers in their classroom and/or at the pool. 

Teachers who have participated in PLD indicated shifts in knowledge, understanding, and in confidence to plan and teach aquatic education. Teachers also reported that their teaching practice and/or content in aquatics has changed following the PLD.

I had a brief idea of what was required to teach water safety but since the PLD I feel more confident.

The in-class PLD was incredible and really brought home the reality of what shock and cold conditions can do to a swimmer or accidental survivor.

I now focus more on scenarios in the water – making the safety aspect more realistic, relevant, important, and also engaging.

I learned a lot about water competence, and to think I had spent so long trying to teach swimming!

Teacher Resources


This resource aligns to the NZC (2007) and provides teaching and learning guidance for teachers and developmentally appropriate educational activities, in both English and Te Reo Māori, for children.  

In at the Deep End

This resource is currently being updated and will be available on this page when completed.

Teaching and Learning Toolbox

A limited number of Teacher Guides are currently available. Others will be added to the Toolbox as they are updated.

eLearning – Water safety for children.

This module is developed predominantly for primary and intermediate schoolteachers. It is intended to develop teaching and learning in all 15 Water Competencies. This module will also assist the teaching and learning of the WSNZ Water Skills for Life programme.


Lynch, T. (2012).  Swimming and water safety: reaching all children in Australian primary schools. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 6, 267-278.  

Moran, K. (2013). Defining ‘swim and survive’ in the context of New Zealand drowning prevention strategies: a discussion paper.

Stallman, R., Junge, M., & Blixt, T., (2008). The Teaching of Swimming Based on a Model Derived From the Causes of Drowning. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. 2, 372-382.

Stallman, R.K., Moran, K., Quan, L., & Langendorfer, S. (2017). From swimming skill to water competence: Towards a more inclusive drowning prevention future. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. 2(3), 1-35.

Langendorfer, S.J., Moran, K., & Stallman, R.K. (2018). Guiding Principles: Applying Water Competence to Drowning Prevention. Interna­tional Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. 11(2), 22.

For further information and to discuss your specific needs contact: [email protected]