Scottish leisure centre sees influx of swimming teachers from creative advert

A national shortage of swim teachers is being overcome by a recruitment drive targeting "kids TV personalities" in a bid to encourage children to learn to swim and improve water safety.

Swimming teachers Keira Higgins and Cara Murray with some of their pupils.

Swimming teachers Keira Higgins and Cara Murray with some of their pupils. ‘

The initiative by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd, which asked for young and bubbly characters, attracted 12 new recruits through active schools ‘Sports Leaders Academies’, helping to enable 500 kids to receive swimming lessons at one of the nine leisure clubs with a pool in the area.

Following the pandemic, the recruitment drive became a necessity for Stewart Hunter, recreation manager at South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd.

He said: “The shortage of teachers meant less and less kids were able to access the swimming lessons, which can form a memorable and sometimes vital part of childhood.

Cara Murray with one of the pupils.

“Instead of tar g eting our job adverts towards ex perienced and competent swimmers, the ‘Kids TV personalities’ campaign focused on employing people who instead were well-natured and natural at speaking to children.

“We want to provide children with not only a great lesson, but also a great time. Teachers should be engaging, fun, nurturing and be able to easily converse with kids.

“Having sound back-up knowledge is also important of course, but this is something that can be taught. Getting the right personalities for the job was of the upmost importance.”

To begin with, the South Lanarkshire trust targeted three high schools in the area; Carluke High School, Lanark Grammar School and Lesmahagow, leading to the recruitment of four kids from each of the schools and therefore providing 12 teaching contracts.

Stewart said: “The 12 teachers that we recruited provide 48 hours of lessons a week across Carluke, Colburn and Lanark leisure centres and our centre member numbers are slowly rising back up to pre-covid rates. The recruitment drive has been so successful we are now continuing the reach out to other South Lanarkshire schools with the aim of taking on more teaching staff.

“Our primary goals are to ensure all of our teachers achieve the highest qualification they can receive by taking them through the appropriate training.”