From 2020 it will be compulsory for all school children in England to be taught First Aid. The move, announced by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, means the government’s relationships, sex and health education curriculum will be taught in all state-funded schools in England from September 2020.
Starting this month, 1,600 schools in England will be trialling first aid classes as part of the pilot in preparation for the full roll-out next year. Primary school children will be taught skills such as how to make an emergency call, while secondary school children will learn how to help someone suffering from a cardiac arrest.
Mr Williamson said the new health curriculum would give every child “the chance to learn life-saving skills”, the BBC reports.
The decision to make the lessons compulsory came after Lord Kerslake’s inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 raised concerns that people on the scene “did not appear familiar with first aid principles”.
For the Red Cross, which has been campaigning for over a decade for first aid lessons to be mandatory within schools, this is a landmark commitment that it said should be celebrated. However, the Red Cross also believes that the move does not go far enough as the legislation only covers schools in England and not those in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland where first aid classes will still only be an option.
Campaigner Marina Fogle, wife to Red Cross British Ambassador Ben Fogle said: “You never know how you would act in an emergency, yet our actions could save a life.
“This is why I think it’s fantastic that, after 10 years of campaigning by the British Red Cross, it will be compulsory for first aid skills to be taught in all state schools in England from 2020. It’s an impactful way to give young people the confidence they need to help someone.
“As parents, Ben and I are so thrilled our children will be able to learn these important skills so that they never feel completely helpless in an emergency situation.
“It’s also a relief knowing that if anything were to happen to them in the future, more people might be able to help.
“So many women I know, especially those weaning their babies, are terrified of the possibility of their child choking. But children learning first aid could make all the difference if one of their younger siblings was choking at home.
“This new legislation, however, is just for schools in England. At the moment teaching first aid in schools in the rest of the UK is optional. We support the British Red Cross’s calls for it to become a compulsory part of the curriculum throughout the UK so all school children get the same chance to learn how to save a life.”
The introduction of basic first aid classes into schools can only be a good thing for the younger generation – equipping them with the skills to help someone in need is definitely a move in the right direction.