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Emergency life support skills in schools

Volume 556: debated on Thursday 10 January 2013

The Petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that knowing how to stop bleeding, open an airway or perform CPR should be considered as important to a young person’s education; and that steps should be taken to ensure that there are a new generation of life savers across the UK.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make emergency life support skills a part of the curriculum to be taught in all schools

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Julie Hilling, Official Report, 21 November 2012; Vol. 553, c. 680.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Education:

I recognise the importance of emergency life support skills (ELSS) and the benefit pupils can gain from acquiring them. However, I do not agree that making ELSS a statutory part of the National Curriculum is the right approach. The aim of this Government is to reduce prescription throughout the education system and, in doing so, to allow teachers and school leaders to use their professional judgement to provide what is best in their circumstances.

The non-statutory framework for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education already provides a context for teaching young people ELSS. At primary level, pupils can learn about basic emergency procedures and where to get help. At secondary level they can develop the skills to cope with emergency situations that require basic first aid procedures, including resuscitation techniques. Schools are free to support their teaching with additional programmes and to do so by using reputable organisations to deliver training where that meets the needs of their pupils.

The National Curriculum was originally envisaged as a guide to study in key subjects which would give parents and teachers confidence that students were acquiring the knowledge necessary at every level of study to make appropriate progress. As it has developed, the National Curriculum has come to cover more subjects, prescribe more outcomes and take up more school time than originally intended. It is our intention that the National Curriculum be slimmed down so that it properly reflects the body of essential knowledge which all children should learn and does not absorb the overwhelming majority of teaching time in schools. Individual schools should have greater freedom to construct their own programmes of study in subjects outside the National Curriculum and develop approaches to learning and study which complement it.