Updated: Feb 17
From September 2020 all state-funded Primary and Secondary schools in England will be required to teach First Aid as part of the mandatory school curriculum and Health Education.
Statutory Guidance from the Department for Education states that Primary pupils should be taught about the “steps they can take to protect and support their own and others' health and well-being, including basic first aid.” The Basic First Aid techniques that Primary age pupils should know are: how to make a clear and efficient call to emergency services if necessary. concepts of basic first aid, for example dealing with common injuries, including head injuries.
For Secondary pupils the expectations are that they are “taught how to judge when they, or someone they know, needs support and where they can seek help if they have concerns, including details on which adults in school (e.g. school nurses) and externally can help.” In terms of Basic First Aid, they 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.
It is noted in the statutory guidance that CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) is usually best taught after 12 years old. Younger children may well be capable of understanding the basics of CPR, however their size and strength may prevent them from being able to effectively administer it.
The teaching and learning of First Aid techniques can be tremendously empowering, particularly for children and young people – they are facing adult-like, serious situations and achieving real-life competencies which can make a real difference – and having the self-confidence to deal with situations of emergency is incredibly important.
Children of both Primary and Secondary age can practice basic first aid skills such as icing a swollen injury, applying pressure to a bleeding wound, pinching the nose for 10 minutes for a nosebleed, draping a blanket over someone in shock, or gently rolling someone into the recovery position – such actions could well be the difference between a more or less serious outcome.
First Aid for children and young people certainly doesn't need to be overly complicated, and planting the seeds of knowing how and when to help someone in an emergency is effective and lifelong - as is having the confidence to know it's OK to act. First and foremost children need to know how to stay safe themselves and to be reassured by knowing who to contact (and how) in an everyday emergency should the need arise.
The inclusion of basic First Aid in the curriculum for schools will hopefully pave the way for future generations of life-savers, building confidence, character and strengthening community resilience!
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