What is S4S?

S4S is a charitable programme that introduces secondary school students to rowing, in a specially designed type of boat called a skerry rowed by up to eight people. It also helps them to appreciate their environment in a totally new way.

Is S4S open to everyone?

Yes. We welcome students of all genders and of all abilities to S4S. Obviously we will do complete risk assessments if there are particular needs. But this is a sport that can accommodate practically everyone.

Fixed seat rowing is a great sport, which is growing faster than any other water sport in the UK. Slightly more girls than boys take part. In our programme, eight students can make up a crew, rowing side by side as pairs on four thwarts. In addition there is a cox and room for a passenger.

It is an unusual sport in that girls and boys can participate as part of the same team. The skerry is perfect for school groups.

Will our students be on a proper training programme?

Yes, a student taking part in a few sessions will be on course to achieve a British Rowing ‘Learn To Row’ qualification and will receive a certificate to show their achievement.

Is it safe?

Yes. Skerries are very stable boats and have been specifically chosen as they are perfect for the River Thames.

What about health and safety issues?

We take health and safety very seriously, it is our No.1 priority.

a)    The school will have policies already in place and these must be complied with. S4S will comply with these policies. Pupils and staff should be reminded of these prior to a S4S session.

b)   In addition pupils, staff and coaches will all wear buoyancy aids provided by S4S when on or near the water.

c)    It should be noted that the river can reflect UV rays and that protection from the sun is an important consideration. A hat may not be sufficient as the rays come from below as well as above.

Do the students and the staff member have to be able to swim?

No, being able to swim is obviously a benefit, however it is not essential to S4S. The coach will ask who can swim ahead of the session, so he/she is able to complete the required risk assessment ahead of each session.

What training have the S4S coaches had?

British Rowing has trained all of our coaches to the highest levels. In addition they have undergone Disclosure and Barring Checks, have current first aid certification and have had their references checked by S4S. They have also been trained in Safeguarding and Protecting Children.

Will S4S be fully responsible for our students during the sessions?

No, the school continues to have responsibility for the children, under the school policies for groups off school premises. Therefore the school MUST ensure that a member of staff is present throughout all S4S sessions, and that this member of staff is properly briefed as to their responsibilities. If this person is not present S4S will have to cancel the session.

What will S4S be responsible for?

S4S will be responsible for ensuring that the rowing activity has been properly assessed and the correct insurances are in place. Each session will start with a safety briefing which will include water safety and handling of equipment.

What will the session cost?

S4S is not looking to make a profit, however we have some basic costs to cover to ensure the boats are safe and the right equipment is in place.

A session in a skerry lasts an hour, taking up to ten students, one member of staff from your school and our S4S coach onto the river. There will be two skerries available, making possible an informal race. The price is £50 for a single session in one skerry or £40 each for two consecutive sessions.

Where will the sessions start and end?

All the sessions will start and end outside Richmond Bridge Boat Club, which is on Richmond Riverside in the arches next to Richmond Bridge. The school should arrange transport to and from the session.

How does our school book a session?

It’s simple, visit the Book Your Skerry! page on this website, select the required time slot for when you want to train (if it is available) and complete a few simple details. The slot will then be reserved for your school as a ‘provisional’ booking. S4S will then contact our coaches and reserve the boats. Once this is in place we will confirm the session with you. Alternatively you can contact us at info@skerries4schools.org

How many students can our school bring to each session?

Skerries are able to take 10 students, with our two boats, plus their teacher and the S4S coach (12 in all). When booking you can book one or two skerries. Therefore the maximum number of teenagers for an outing is 20. The minimum number of students for one skerry is 4.

How do I find out more?

Simply visit the Contact Us page on this website. Our details are there for you.