Secondary School Programmes

Support for Secondary School Departments

Almost one fifth of New Zealand drowning deaths are youth aged 15-24 years (WSNZ, 2020). Evidence shows youth, especially males are more likely to over-estimate their swimming and rescue competencies (Moran, 2003; Gulliver & Begg, 2005), Further evidence suggests confident youth are exposed to riskier aquatic environments, and despite greater exposure to water, are more likely to under-estimate the risk in open water (Willcox-Pidgeon, Kool & Moran, 2018; Moran, 2003; Howland et al.; 1996). Schools have an opportunity to teach life-long water safety practices to their students, before or when they reach this vulnerable age group, to address drowning amongst our youth.

Drowning Prevention Auckland offers support to Health, Physical Education and Outdoor Education departments tailored to meet their needs.

This may include:

  • Developing a framework for aquatic education Years 9-13.
  • Programme planning for aquatic education including related EOTC.
  • NCEA Framework – where aquatics fits in Levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • Gateway programmes to achieve aquatic qualifications.
  • Professional learning and development for teachers, including:
    • Onsite department meetings
    • Offsite whole day or half day options for teachers from various schools
    • Teaching and learning support for teachers in the classroom and at the pool.  

Examples of how aquatic education may be incorporated by teachers into Years 9-13 HPE/OE programmes.

  • Practical water competence learning in the pool
  • Interactive classroom learning with hands-on activities.
  • Scaffolded learning from classroom and pool to open water. This could be linked to EOTC programmes.

Year 11

Aquatics matrix for NCEA Units 1.1 to 1.9

Year 12

Aquatics matrix for NCEA Units level 2 (e.g. 2.1, 2.4, 2.7)

Year 13

Aquatics matrix for NCEA Units Level 3 (3.1, 3.4, 3.7)

24 Unit Standard credits (Levels 1-3) to achieve the Pool Lifeguard Practicing Certificate 


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

Drowning Prevention Auckland Staff Providing Water Safety Directly To Students

DPA staff to coordinate and deliver aquatic education
  • Classroom and/or pool safety sessions focused on water safety
  • Coastguard Safe Boating programme (with PLD this is free)

Each programme will be tailored for the specific group depending on age and ability. This could include our basic water competency training and safer boating education.

*Class teachers will be expected to participate in these sessions assisting with class organisation, management and learning.

Teacher Resources

Wai Survival Guide

WAI Survival is a water safety resource for secondary teachers structured to meet the requirements of the New Zealand Curriculum (2007), Health and Physical Education at levels 4 and 5.

It gives clear teaching ideas to develop water competence. Teaching ideas are provided to develop and link practical water safety and survival skills with critical thinking for safer aquatic participation in a range of aquatic environments to prepare students and teachers for the competencies needed to have people enjoy the water and stay safe.

eLearning – Water safety for youth and young adults  

Check out the youth and young adults module which can be used by secondary school teachers and students.


Gulliver, P., & Begg, D. (2005). Usual water-related behaviour and ‘near-drowning’ incidents in young adults. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 29(3), 238-243. Retrieved from:

Howland, J., Hingson, R., Mangione, T. W., Bell, N., & Bak, S. (1996). Why are most drowning victims men? Sex differences in aquatic skills and behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 86(1), 93-96. Retrieved from:

Moran, K. (2003). New Zealand Youth Water Safety Survey 2003. A report to Water Safety New Zealand. Wellington: WSNZ.

Pidgeon-Willcox, S. M. Kool, B, & Moran, K. (2018). Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviours of New Zealand Youth in Surf Beach Environments, International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 10(2), Article 6. DOI: 10.25035/ijare.10.02.06 
Published online at:

Water Safety New Zealand. (2020a). NZ Drowning Deaths 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2019. Water Safety New Zealand Drownbase™, Wellington.