Emergency First Aid Education September 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the second reading of the Emergency First Aid Education Bill on Friday 20 November.

I agree that life-saving skills should be a compulsory element in our schools and I welcome the aims of the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) 'Nation of Lifesavers' campaign. The BHF has emphasised that 80% of the 30,000 annual out of hospital cardiac arrests happen in the home, so it is essential that more children leave school knowing how to save a life. A recent poll by St John's Ambulance also found that the overwhelming majority of teachers are in favour of young adults learning basic lifesaving skills, while more than half thought first aid would need to be part of the national curriculum in order for more schools to take the subject seriously.

As you know, there is currently no statutory requirement for schools to teach first aid, although the guidance for both Citizenship lessons (for children aged 7-11) and Personal Social Health and Economic (PSHE) education (for all secondary school pupils) encourage the teaching of health and safety and basic emergency aid procedures. The absence of formal first aid training in schools means that first aid provision across the country remains patchy and I believe that without this compulsory element these skills will not be taught in all schools. 

That is why I would like to see the Government introduce a clear legal requirement for all schools to teach emergency life-saving skills so that no young person leaves school without being able to perform CPR. Making life-saving skills a compulsory part of PSHE might be the best way to achieve this but it should be for schools to decide where in the curriculum this requirement is included.

I also believe there is a compelling case for all schools to be equipped with a defibrillator, as access to them has the potential to save lives tragically lost to sudden cardiac deaths. I am disappointed, therefore, that the Government have failed to legislate on this or to make it a legal requirement that all school pupils are taught lifesaving skills as part of the national curriculum.

I support the principles behind the Emergency First Aid Education Bill and I hope there will be enough support in Parliament to bring compulsory first aid education into all schools in Nottingham.

I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and bear in mind the points you raise. Thank you once again for writing to me.