accessibility & help

Education - frequently asked questions

Schoolchildren listening to first aid trainer©InfoWhy does the British Red Cross produce its range of humanitarian education materials to teachers and other educators? Find the answers to common questions. Feel free to ask one of your own by emailing

How do you choose the content and activities?

We first assess whether the material is likely to work in the classroom. Many of our activities are led by video, audio or photographs. We check that they are engaging for students, usable in a variety of ways, and likely to lead to positive explorations. We try to eliminate elements that would make it unsuitable or difficult to use with students.

We then ensure the proposal fits with British Red Cross values, and with our current themes (see below). Our values stem from two key fundamental principles of the worldwide Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – impartiality and neutrality. We never become involved in political, religious, racial or any other sort of ideological controversy. Our focus is reducing suffering, irrespective of the age, class, race, beliefs or political affiliation of those suffering.

Steering this course – avoiding political or religious controversy – is not easy. Sometimes whole topics have to be avoided. That means that teachers will sometimes find us unexpectedly silent on a major news event. The upside of that is that educators can be reassured that the materials are not biased, slanted or pushing a particular line. The only line we promote is that of humanitarian education.


What is humanitarian education?

It is a way of learning about and understanding the world. It is not religious or political, but is centrally concerned with our shared humanity. At the core of humanitarian action and thinking is a desire to contribute to saving lives and reducing suffering.

Humanitarian education invites exploration of those actions and thoughts. It helps students examine what motivates people, including themselves, and extends to other societies, times and cultures. It explores the wider issues, sometimes surprisingly complex, that arise when people help each other.

One important strand of humanitarian education is learning about international humanitarian law. Sometimes known as the laws of war, they are vaguely in many people's consciousness as the Geneva Conventions. Learning about them, and thinking about why we have laws governing acts of armed violence between people, is a good way in to humanitarian education.


What themes do you cover?

Our aim is to provide topical, newsworthy activities and exploration broadly relevant to humanitarian education. We focus on four themes which are British Red Cross areas of specialism:

  • conflict and its consequences
  • disasters and emergencies
  • health
  • humanitarianism

A very wide range of news topics fit under these broad themes.

Under humanitarianism we work towards one broad outcome. To increase young people's confidence, ability and willingness to help themselves and others in a crisis – that is, their capacity to survive and recover from setbacks and to cope with the stresses and difficulties of life and to help others to do that too. If we can do that we can help communities and the people in them to be more resilient.


Do you only have free online resources?

No, we also have a collection of printed resources that can be bought via the online shop or from our education catalogue.

All our online materials are free. That is not because we don't think they are valuable. On the contrary, we think they stand up well against any commercially available materials. But we want them to be used, so we don't want price to discourage anyone.


How are the education resources funded?

The materials are largely paid for through British Red Cross general funds, with small pots of money from funders including trusts and corporate donors to help us develop particular projects.


Why do you spend money on education?

We believe that, like all charities, we have a duty to explain what we do by setting out our values and principles. We also have a commitment to share what we know, to contribute as part of wider society to the education of the coming generations. Helping others learn and develop from the understanding of the world that comes from our work is part of what we do. Through humanitarian education, we aim to increase individuals’ and communities’ resilience by building their capacity to cope in a crisis.

We also have an official support role to the UK government in humanitarian matters. This includes enhancing respect for humanitarian values and human dignity, and running educational programmes to promote awareness of the laws of war.

To put the spending in context, the British Red Cross has a yearly expenditure on all its services of around £180 million. The total spending on the whole of the schools and community education department – which also runs peer education projects and youth volunteering – is around £675,000 a year – or 0.4 per cent of the charity's total spending.


How can I get a school speaker and what will they do?

You can either approach the British Red Cross branch nearest to you. Alternatively, request classroom support here

Most branches can arrange a short presentation on the work of the Red Cross. Others also offer interactive workshops on humanitarian issues such as child soldiers, disaster response, HIV and the laws of war – designed to get young people exploring the issues.

Branches rely on volunteers or hard-pressed staff to deliver workshops and talks. They will do their best, but cannot meet every request. So please give as much notice as possible and don't pin your hopes on it. Remember too, that the materials on the education website are self-contained and designed for use by anyone. You don't need to be a British Red Cross expert to raise humanitarian issues in school.


Do you teach first aid to young people in schools or in youth groups?

Yes, we have a flexible first aid offer for schools and youth groups of all ages, as we believe everyone should have an opportunity to learn this invaluable life skill in the way that’s most relevant to them. Our educators will focus on your group’s individual needs whether that means integrating bite-sized learning into a wider scheme of work, or providing more in-depth training for young people who want to achieve a British Red Cross first aid qualification.

We also encourage teachers to teach first aid to young people themselves using our free Life. Live it. first aid education resources, which include lesson plans and packages. No previous experience of teaching first aid is necessary.

Our research shows that children as young as five can learn some basic first aid skills, like how to get help, or how to treat a burn. We also find first aid to be an effective vehicle for building decision-making skills, raising confidence and learning how to manage risk and safety.

First aid courses vary in length, price and qualifications so it is best to discuss your needs with your local Red Cross branch, highlighting any special interests or learning needs. Due to demand, it is best to book courses as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.

Contact your local British Red Cross branch, or teach first aid yourself using our online materials. 

Do you offer teacher training or CPD?

Yes, we have a small team of experienced trainers who can provide tailored sessions in schools, at conferences and as part of teacher training courses including:

  • Introduction to the Red Cross 
  • Red Cross teaching resources
  • Teaching controversial issues using interactive, enquiry-based activities, including armed conflict, refugees and asylum seekers and HIV and AIDS
  • Supporting youth action projects
  • The challenges of representing people and places in education
  • Teaching first aid

Please email with your request and we will do our best to meet your training needs.


Are the materials protected by copyright?

Yes. If you are a teacher, youth worker or other educator, you are freely and warmly encouraged to use the materials, experiment with them, adapt them for your group, and share them with others. We simply ask that you respect basic academic conventions, such as not deleting the source of the materials, inaccurately quoting from them, or passing them off as something else.

If you are a commercial education publisher who is tempted to lift any part of our materials for inclusion in something you publish, we draw your attention to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and to the fact that our very good lawyers are watching. Don't even dream about it.