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Life-saving Skills

Volume 565: debated on Monday 24 June 2013

5. What consideration he has given to including life-saving skills in the physical education curriculum. (160853)

Our proposals for the new national curriculum were published for consultation earlier this year. They are based on the principle that the national curriculum should set out a body of essential knowledge that children should be expected to acquire in key subjects. We are considering the consultation responses, and considering the inclusion of life-saving skills.

I am conscious that we do not wish to be too prescriptive, but just two hours of training could enable help to be provided to those suffering the 60,000 cardiac arrests that take place outside hospital each year and give a real, tangible skill to those who wish to go into the sports and leisure industry.

I thank my hon. Friend for that, and for bringing a delegation from the British Heart Foundation to meet me. It made a good case for the introduction of live-saving skills. I also know that 86% of teachers support training in those skills. However, we have to strike a balance in the national curriculum between the flexibility that we give to teachers and what we prescribe centrally. Those factors will go into our final decision making.

On Friday, I visited Burnbush primary school in my constituency to meet a really lively group of year 6 pupils. They showed me the skills that they had learnt as a result of the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and British Heart Foundation programme that has been going round schools and teaching children about resuscitation and how to stop people choking. Does the Minister agree that we should be considering such training for the curriculum not only in secondary schools but in primary schools, as their pupils could also benefit from learning those skills?

I think it is a fantastic programme that the British Heart Foundation runs. One thing we have done is to provide finance to the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education Association to work with partners such as the British Heart Foundation on providing programmes that really bring the subject to life in schools.