Education Secretary stresses importance of basic life-saving skills and first aid – under plans for health education to become compulsory in all schools.

The Education Secretary underlined the importance of every child having the chance to learn life-saving skills such as CPR and how to get help in a medical emergency, under plans for health education to be taught in every school.

With emergency services reporting a spike in cardiac arrests during the winter months, and survival rates lower than usual – according to NHSEngland figures – Damian Hinds stressed the importance of the government’s plans for all children to be taught basic first aid in schools under proposals due to be rolled out from 2020.

The British Heart Foundation hailed the plans as a “decisive moment” in improving on the fact that fewer than 1 in 10 people who have a cardiac arrest outside hospital in the UK survive. In countries that already teach CPR in schools, cardiac arrest survival rates are more than double those of the UK.

For every minute without life-saving treatment the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest drops by about 10% – meaning that the time before an ambulance arrives is crucial – but the British Red Cross has found that 95% of adults wouldn’t be able, confident or willing to help in 3 examples of life-threatening first aid emergencies.

To ensure the next generation knows what to do in an emergency, the government is planning to make health education compulsory in all state-funded schools. Under the proposed new guidance, by the end of secondary school pupils will be taught how to administer CPR, the purpose of defibrillators, and basic treatments for common injuries.

The proposals are part of the Department for Education’s plans to strengthen teaching of health, sex and relationships education – building on free resources already available for schools to teach first aid including those provided by the Every Child a Lifesaver Coalition, made up of the British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross.

Schools will be encouraged and supported to teach high-quality relationships education, RSE and health education – tailored to meet their pupils’ needs – from September 2019, ahead of it becoming compulsory in September 2020.