Above Water Mission

Our mission to put a STOP to accidental drowning in the UK

Children watching waves

We have all experienced a potential drowning scare at some point in our lives or our children’s lives.  We can't begin to imagine what it must be like to experience the catastrophe of a family member drowning.  The effects on the local community can also be devastating.  Drowning claims almost 600 souls every year with a child drowning every week in the UK. 

Parents, expect and presume children are receiving water safety education at school; water safety is in our national curriculum. 

National curriculum in England: physical education programmes of study

Swimming and water safety

All schools must provide swimming instruction either in key stage 1 or key stage 2.
In particular, pupils should be taught to:
  • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
  • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations

Unfortunately, studies show that half of the children leaving primary school will not have experienced any water safety teaching and cannot swim.  There are many reasons why schools struggle to deliver swimming and water safety lessons. These include cost, time, logistics, lack of confidence/knowledge by teachers to lead water safety sessions.  Teachers have never been taught how to teach this aspect of the national curriculum.  Consequently, there are literally millions of children in the UK who couldn't save themselves or help anyone else if they fell into water. 

This is not acceptable! 

Education to STOP accidental drowning

lifesaving tools

There are many wonderful organisations, some coordinated with government resources, tackling this issue but still millions of children are left with a gap in their skills/knowledge.   The charity Above Water (Charity No.1174593) is the only water safety charity to solely focus on education. Through an education programme, Above Water believes it can eradicate accidental drowning but all 9 million of our school age children (Yrs. reception to 13) must receive water safety education.  Above Water visit schools (primary & secondary) and presents at least 1 hour of interactive, unique instruction on water safety, drowning prevention techniques and understanding the water, local to the school. These sessions are heavily over subscribed with over a thousand schools requesting a visit, but we have a solution!

  Through 2023 Above Water completed extensive test training sessions in schools throughout the UK.  In 2024, we are officially starting our Young Leader water safety ambassador campaign.  Above Water started this campaign in Devon and move into Cornwall through Jan/Feb.  

December Press Release

Date & Time: November through to March

Location: Schools throughout Devon and Cornwall

National water safety & drowning prevention educational campaign starts in Devon sponsored by SW Water.

Information: In the UK and Ireland, over the last 5 years, an average of 610 souls drown per year with tens of thousands of rescues conducted on our coastline and inland waterways.  As the start of a national campaign, the charity Above Water (No.1174593) will be holding Water Safety 'Young Leader' Training throughout the South West of England.  Devon is the first county to receive this unique training with sessions already taken place in Torbay x2, Plymouth, Exeter and Honiton.  

Students who are ‘Young Leaders’ undergo 2 hrs of Water Safety training from Above Water to then go back into their own schools to train their peers in these essential life skills. With 9 million school age students in the UK, this is the largest practical solution to annual training the children of this island nation. Research shows that students that receive a minimum of 45 minutes training each year in water safety knowledge and practical drowning prevention techniques not only have a greater survival chance but also take these skills into a healthier and happier adulthood.

Training in the South West has been sponsored South West Water & McCarthy Contracting & Development Ltd.

What is included in the training?


What to do in an emergency?

How to self-rescue?

How to rescue others?

Information & statistics

Understanding the hazards near water-

·       Inland Waters- Reservoirs, Lakes, Rivers, Household

·       Coastal Water- Coastline, ports and harbours, estuaries

What is drowning?

Cold water Shock

RIPs and flow



If you are a school wishing to host a hub session in your area or someone wishing to sponsor or support Young Leader water safety training, we would love to hear from you.
Through education we can help children make the right choice to stay safe near water.


Contact-  info@abovewater.org