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'UK lags behind in teaching first aid'

'UK lags behind in teaching first aid'

British Red Cross

3 min read Partner content

Only seven per cent of the UK population can correctly recall first aid advice, writes Sir Bob Russell MP.

Education isn't – and shouldn't be – just about reading, writing and maths. At its core, education should also be about gaining practical knowledge that will help people to be more confident, willing and able to help in a crisis, writes Sir Bob Russell MP.

While educational attainment is important, one cannot dismiss the formative role that schools play in the development of young people. Schools provide an ideal forum for learning how to cope with challenging situations. As young people move towards independence in their own lives and take on responsibilities they should know how to help others, whether it is a family member, friend or fellow citizen.

The British Red Cross is calling for all young people and children in the UK to have, and gain the confidence to save lives through learning first aid. Knowing these skills could enable an entire generation of young people to better cope with emergencies and disasters.

But it's not just about saving lives, youngsters will learn that being able to immediately help their mates goes beyond reducing pain, minimising distress and speeding up the recovery process before help arrives, or they are taken to hospital. It is also a noble humanitarian act.

This is why we need a national curriculum that is fit for purpose in the twenty-first century, which gives first aid and humanitarian education a secure place.

It is shocking that only seven per cent of the UK population can correctly recall first aid advice, and feel confident and willing to give first aid. Simple first aid skills, and the confidence to use them, can save lives.

Sadly the UK is lagging behind in terms of first aid education. Almost a fifth of European countries have made first aid education compulsory in schools, but Britain is not one of them. And while the vast majority of Britain's teachers (83 per cent) and parents (98 per cent) want first aid to become part of the curriculum, just 18 per cent of primary schools in the UK offer pupils the chance to learn these skills.

As the Department for Education reviews the national curriculum it is a valuable opportunity to strengthen future generations' ability to both help themselves and others. Teachers and parents are united in their belief that teaching first aid and humanitarian values are essential. What we now need is the political will to make this happen.

Sir Bob Russell MP is sponsoring the parliamentary launch of the British Red Cross' new 'Pupil, Citizen, Lifesaver' campaign. It will be held on Thursday 10 May in Jubilee Room, House of Commons. All parliamentarians are welcome to visit at any time during the event for the opportunity to meet pupils, teachers and take part in first aid and humanitarian based activities. For further details please contact Daniel Rubio, Public affairs adviser drubio@redcross.org.uk

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