VITAL swimming lessons for primary school children have been cancelled after prices more than tripled.
A council-endorsed price hike – which came into operation at the start of the school year last week – has seen the price for each school pupil across the county rise from 80p to £2.77 – a near 250 per cent increase.
Headteachers have warned the increase will have a “tremendous impact” on the ability to teach youngsters how to swim.
Pupils at Greenfield CP School will boycott today’s planned swimming session on account of the rise.
Flintshire Council says £2.77 per pupil is the “actual cost of providing school swimming sessions.”
But Peter Roach, head at Greenfield CP, described the increase as “ridiculous”.
He said: “We go swimming once a week. The increase is going to impact tremendously on our ability to deliver swimming.
“We are right by a river and an adult drowned in Greenfield this year. Really they should be reducing the cost to encourage more children to learn swimming.
“It is vital. We regard swimming as a life skill.”
Mr Roach said one class was set to go swimming today at Holywell Leisure Centre but, due to the cost, they will not be going.
The school previously charged parents the 80p for swimming, plus an extra £1.20 for transport.
He added: “I’d like to see it reduced back to what it was or for the council to phase in the increase.”
Councillor Rosetta Dolphin also slammed the increase.
“I think it’s disgusting,” she said. “I think it needs to be reviewed. The leisure centres rely on the schools going there. This decision could have a knock-on effect on them.”
Mr Roach has sent out a letter to parents, saying it is “uncertain” when lessons will resume.
Lawrence Rawsthorne, Flintshire Council’s head of culture and leisure, said: “The decision to increase the tariff was taken last year but the introduction was delayed to September 2013.
“Leisure services staff have been in discussion with head teachers to discuss how best swimming lessons can be tailored to meet curriculum requirements in a way which is affordable to schools.”