Fife Council is to dip its feet in water and look at how they can ensure all children can swim by the time they leave primary school.

A report is now to be produced by the Education and Children's Services sub committee which will provide details of the current swimming policy and offer recommendations on how they can make sure youngsters are able to "swim with confidence and understanding" by P7 and how to keep safe in the water.

The action follows a motion raised by councillor Kathleen Leslie at a meeting of Fife Council on Thursday.

She said swimming was not only a life-skill but a life-saver. "Being able to swim, demonstrate water confidence and understand how to keep safe in the water should be an outcome by the end of primary school for all pupils," said Cllr Leslie. "Tragically, the last weekend in July saw six people die. Being able to swim doesn't keep anyone 100 per cent safe. If you can swim and so so confidently, your ability to survive in water is increased.

"In England, swimming and water safety has been a statutory part of the curriculum since 1994 and now it is also the case for Wales and Northern Ireland.

"Fife Sports and Leisure Trust is now running huge initiative for school age children and my understanding is about 6,400 children will per week are going through these lessons. There is still a large amount of children that are not able to swim.

"Ideally we need a Scotland wide policy but lets see what is happening for Fife. We need to be mindful of all the pe lessons that can be taught, swimming is the one that might save our life."

Dunfermline South councillor David J Ross seconded the motion, saying that at least half of children leaving primary schools currently have no knowledge of swimming.

"This is not good enough," he said. "I believe we can lead the way in ensuring our children are able to swim. I endorse the work swimming clubs and the Fife Sports and Leisure Trust are doing but we need to do more."

Dunfermline South councillors James Calder had also raised the importance of learning to swim – and cycle – for Fife youngsters before they leave primary school.

He asked for up to date figures on the percentage of children leaving primary school who can swim and ride a bike.

“Ensuring all pupils can swim and cycle by the end of primary school is a positive aim, but I am worried the SNP/Labour coalition are not taking this seriously enough," he said. "The only way to review whether we are achieving this is by having data on how many can cycle and swim. It is clear the Council are not doing this.

“I would urge them to take action to remedy this so we can measure how effective current programmes are and if need be look into how we can improve this.”

Education and Children's services committee convener, Councillor Craig Walker, said such an initiative was an "aspirational policy" but conceded it had been hampered by coronavirus.

"I don't have specific data," he added. "The pandemic has had a massive impact on all these programmes and we will need time to recover from that."