Government consults on making first aid skills part of curriculum in English schools

Education would include cardiopulmonary resuscitation and dealing with common injuries

Life-saving first aid skills may be included in the national curriculum for primary and secondary school pupils in England, following years of campaigning by charities.

Picture: Alamy

The Department for Education is consulting on proposals for children to learn first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills, which may form part of compulsory health education in all schools in England from 2020.

Healthcare charities say the reforms could save thousands of lives each year.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), St John Ambulance (SJA) and British Red Cross (BRC) – who are part of the Every Child a Lifesaver coalition – have been campaigning for CPR to be taught in schools.

Common injuries and emergency calls

According to the draft guidelines, primary school pupils will be taught concepts of first aid such as dealing with common injuries, including head injuries, and how to make a clear and efficient call to emergency services.

Young people in secondary schools will also be taught first aid such as how to administer CPR and the purpose of defibrillators.

Last year, eight-year-old Stephen Orbeladze learned first aid at an after-school club at his primary school in Yorkshire. Two weeks later, he was able to help a woman who had collapsed on the street where he lives.

He said: ‘I was a little nervous but I remembered what to do because I had learned about it at first aid club.

‘I think it is important to know what to do because we should all help each other. I am really proud of what I did.’


SJA chief executive Martin Houghton-Brown welcomed the government proposals: ‘Lives will be saved, and young people will benefit from developing skills that will build their character and strengthen community resilience.’

BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said evidence suggests ‘nearly one in four people [who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests] could survive if all young people are trained with life-saving CPR skills.

‘Adding CPR to the curriculum in England will mark a defining moment in improving the UK’s shockingly low survival rates from cardiac arrests.’

Mental resilience

Among other proposals, children will be taught how to build mental resilience and how to recognise if peers are struggling with mental health issues.

The draft guidelines from the Department for Education follow a national call for evidence where teachers, pupils and parents were asked what they thought should be taught as part of compulsory relationship and sex education classes.

The consultation on the proposals is open for comments until 7 November.

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