accessibility & help

British Red Cross calls for teaching of first aid and humanitarian education in schools

Monday 5 September

For further information:

Henry Makiwa on 020 7877 7479,

As a new term starts this week for children across the country (Monday 5th September 2011), the British Red Cross has urged the Government to ensure that first aid and humanitarian education continue to be taught in schools in spite of a review of the National Curriculum.

The British Red Cross believes the National Curriculum should ensure that all children gain lifesaving skills and are taught how to become active and informed humanitarians.

Later this month the charity will be taking its message to the three main party conferences, hoping to persuade politicians of all political shades of the importance of a fully rounded education. This will be followed by the launch of an online petition, allowing teachers and parents to register their support for the call with their local MP.

Mairi Allan, Head of Schools and Education at the British Red Cross said, “As children return to school after the holidays, we are keener than ever to underline that education isn't just about reading and writing. At its heart, education should also provide youngsters with a platform for active and responsible citizenship.

“We believe schoolchildren of all ages should be taught first aid and humanitarian education as a core part of the curriculum. Schools play a vital role in supporting healthy and fulfilling lives, and in developing responsible humanitarian citizens who make a contribution to society,” she added.

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

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, according to findings published in the British Red Cross’ Right Place, Right Time report.

Mairi explained: “Through the ongoing curriculum review process we have a valuable opportunity to strengthen future generations’ ability to both help themselves and others. We know already 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.”

The British Red Cross already provides schools and teachers with several free online humanitarian education resources including the fortnightly lesson plan called newsthink. The material is currently subscribed to by over 30 000 teachers across the UK, reaching at least 300,000 children.

Teachers who sign up to the charity’s free online newsthink service can this week download assembly and classroom multimedia-based lesson plans and a ready-made PowerPoint material to mark the tenth anniversary of the U.S 9/11 attacks.

The first newsthink of the autumn term also explores and analyses the nature and circumstances around last month’s riots and disorder in English cities.


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Notes to editors

> The British Red Cross recently launched a free, easy-to-use teaching resource for primary schools, accessible online on the Red Cross website at
> To sign up for Newsthink please visit:
>  If you would like to contact the British Red Cross education team, please email
> To view Right Place, Right Time report please visit
> The British Red Cross will be present at all party conferences with a stand entitled 'Pupil, citizen, life-saver: Building resilience through education' which will demonstrate the benefits of teaching First Aid and Humanitarian Education subjects in schools
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.