Hundreds of children have been practising their swimming techniques in a giant hot tub-style pool at their primary school.

The temporary structure has been installed on part of the playground at New Ford Academy, in Smallthorne, for a four-week period.

It is 12 metres by five metres and holds thousands of litres of water.

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Now every class from Year 1 upwards has been receiving swimming lessons once or twice a week with a qualified teacher and lifeguard.

PE lead Jo Carter said: “The main reason we booked it was to cut down on the loss of learning time travelling to and from Fenton Manor.

“The children were out of school from 9.30am to 11.30am, just for a 30-minute lesson. With the need for Covid catch-up, we didn’t want them to lose any more learning time.

“The children have loved it. We had a few who were feeling anxious but, after the first week, the response was phenomenal.”

The school hired the heated pool from Sandbach-based Sports Coaching Group, which has also supplied the trained staff.

It is covered with a marquee, so pupils are protected from the elements while they swim. There is also a changing tent next to it.

Due to the pandemic, many of the children have missed out on swimming lessons. And for some, it has meant learning to swim from scratch.

Teaching assistant Ruth Millington said: “It’s teaching a life skill. It’s also made them believe in themselves.

“They’ve had so much turmoil over the last two academic years. This has brought back some normality.”

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The novelty of having a pool on the playground has added to the excitement.

Ten-year-old pupil Oliver Myatt, from Sneyd Green, said: “I thought it was a hot tub at first. It’s really warm.

“I’ve been doing doggy paddle, breaststroke and butterfly. I could swim before, but then I quit. It’s nice to swim again.”

Nathan McQuade is also glad to be back in a pool.

The 10-year-old, from Norton, said: “It was quite tricky because we couldn’t do sport for ages. It had been a year since I’d been in a swimming pool. I was quite excited when I saw this one.

“We also get to play water polo at the end of a lesson.”

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Ten-year-old Mia Barber, from Smallthorne, added: “It’s really good. I like it because it feels safer than going on the coach to do swimming.”

Several other Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire schools have also booked the mobile pools on the back of the pandemic.

It has been a great way to ensure Year 6 pupils can master a 25-metre swim and meet the national curriculum requirements.

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