Damian Hinds backs teaching of first aid and CPR as part of health education

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

The government has reaffirmed its intention to introduce the teaching of first aid and CPR into the curriculum.

The skills will be taught under the new subject of health education, which is to become compulsory in all state-funded schools – alongside relationships and sex education – from September 2020.

A consultation on curriculum content for the two new statutory subjects closed last year. The proposed guidance stated that as part of health education students by the end of secondary school should know:

  • Basic treatment for common injuries.
  • Life-saving skills, including how to administer CPR.
  • The purpose of defibrillators and when one might be needed.

While the outcomes of the consultation are yet to be published, the education secretary Damian Hinds said last week that he wanted to see these skills taught.

He pointed to NHS England figures that show a spike in cardiac arrests during the winter months and lower than usual survival rates. Currently fewer than one in 10 people who have a cardiac arrest outside hospital in the UK survive. In countries that teach CPR in schools, survival rates are more than double those of the UK.

While health education does not become compulsory until September 2020, Mr Hinds is urging schools to consider teaching the subject from September 2019 and, for teaching first aid, has signposted free resources available for schools from the Every Child a Lifesaver Coalition, made up of the British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross.

Mr Hinds said: “As a father I want my children to have the knowledge and skills they need to keep themselves safe and help others, and as education secretary I want that for every child. Learning the basic skills of first aid and techniques like CPR will give young people the confidence to know that they can step in to help someone else in need and in the most extreme cases – it could potentially save a life.”

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The Department for Education’s plans to introduce CPR on to the curriculum is a decisive moment in the battle to improve cardiac arrest survival rates, following years of campaigning by the BHF and others.

“There are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year, and each day people needlessly die because bystanders don’t have the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation. This is why all school children should be given the opportunity to learn these skills.”


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