Plan to teach all children first aid

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Schoolchildren in England will have to learn first aid under proposals put forward by the government.

Draft legislation says primary school children will be taught basic first aid, such as dealing with head injuries and calling emergency services.

Secondary school children will learn life-saving skills such as CPR and the purpose of defibrillators.

The British Heart Foundation said the move would improve “shockingly low survival rates from cardiac arrests”.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said he wanted to give young people “the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school”.

The plan was announced as part of new guidelines on relationships and health education in schools.

The BHF said that fewer than one in 10 people survive cardiac arrests suffered outside of hospital, with 10,000 people in the UK dying each year as a result.

Survival rates in countries that teach first aid in school are up to three times higher, the BHF said.

‘Vital’ skills

Research by the British Red Cross, which also campaigns on the issue, found that 95% of British adults would not be able to provide aid in “three of the most life-threatening first aid emergencies”.

Mike Adamson, the charity’s chief executive, said teaching children “simple yet vital first aid skills” would save lives.

The government’s decision comes after Lord Kerslake’s inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 found members of the public tried to help the injured and dying but lacked the requisite skills.

The report into the blast, which killed 22 people, praised the public response.

But the inquiry raised concerns that people on the scene were “trying their very best in genuinely harrowing circumstances” but “did not appear familiar with first aid principles”.

The draft legislation also outlines plans to let 15-year-olds overrule their parents’ wishes and opt-in to sex education lessons they have previously been withdrawn from.

Mr Hinds said children should be able to request sex education in at least one of the three terms before their 16th birthday.

Until then, parents will retain the right to withdraw their children.

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