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British Red Cross study fuels new call for first aid education in primary schools

Friday 15 July
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Mark South / Angela Mycock

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New research shows that children as young as five are able to learn and remember first aid skills which could help them, their friends and their family in an emergency.

The British Red Cross is calling for these potentially lifesaving skills, which can be taught by teachers without specialist first aid training, to become a vital part of the school curriculum.

As the Right Place, Right Time report highlights, the UK is lagging behind in terms of first aid education at primary school level: 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%) and parents (98 %) 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.

Joe Mulligan, head of first aid education at the British Red Cross said, "There is no doubt that youngsters are able to learn and practise first aid from an early age. This new report shows that, when taught clearly and simply, primary school pupils will remember life saving skills and have increased confidence that they can help others.

"We know that teachers and parents are united in their belief that teaching first aid is essential. What we now need is the political will to make this happen," he added.

The new report is part of the British Red Cross Life. Live it. campaign to bring first aid to youngsters through learning in the classroom and outside school.

It was launched on Friday (15 July 2011) at Wilberfoss Primary School in East Riding, Yorkshire, which this week marked a special First Aid week with classes in the subject for all pupils.

Sue Monkman, head teacher at Wilberfoss School said: "We place great value on teaching first aid and work to ensure all our pupils are given the opportunity to become part of a generation of lifesavers.

"The Red Cross’ Life. Live it. programme is an exciting and enriching addition to our resources and we look forward to building the skills it teaches into the curriculum."

The Red Cross recently launched a free, easy-to-use teaching resource for primary schools, accessible online on the Red Cross website at

Finn Blyth (8) a year three pupil at Wilberfoss Primary School said: "First aid isn’t about doctors and nurses because they won’t be there. It is all about us saving people, doing what we’ve learned".

Greg Knight, MP for East Yorkshire, said: "It's great to see children learning life saving skills. The British Red Cross' online teaching resource provides teachers with valuable resources to help pupils cope in a crisis and help others.

"I am delighted to see such a strong partnership working in Yorkshire with Wilberfoss Primary School."


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Notes to editors

To view the Right Place, Right Time report please visit

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.