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May 2024 Update on Teaching First Aid in Schools Guidelines as part of the DfE New Draft RSHE Statutory Guidance


On 16th May 2024, the Education Secretary released a draft of the new Relationships,

Sex and Health Education (RSHE) guidance, a subject which became compulsory to teach in 2020. First Aid was introduced as part of this curriculum to ensure all primary and secondary school children learn essential life-saving skills.


The new guidelines, as published by the Department for Education (DfE), has a specific focus on what age is appropriate to teach each topic, along with some additional guidance, including First Aid.


Before discussing these changes, it is important to note that these are currently a draft version of the final guidance, which is due to be released later this year. Once published, all state-funded schools are required to follow these guidelines. If anything relating to First Aid changes in the final draft, we will make sure schools are aware of this.


The original guidance set out in the 2020 document was as follows:


Primary:

Pupils should know:

  • how to make a clear and efficient call to emergency services if necessary.

  • concepts of basic first aid, for example dealing with common injuries, including head injuries.


Secondary:

Pupils should know:

  • basic treatment for common injuries.

  • life-saving skills, including how to administer CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).

  • the purpose of defibrillators and when one might be needed.


The new draft guidance set out in the 2024 document is as follows:


Primary:

Pupils should know:

  • how to make a clear and efficient call to emergency services if necessary, including the importance of reporting incidents rather than filming them.

  • concepts of basic first aid, for example dealing with common injuries and ailments, including head injuries.


Secondary:

Pupils should know:

  • basic treatment for common injuries and ailments.

  • life-saving skills, including how to administer CPR* (*Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation is usually best taught after 12 years old).

  • the purpose of defibrillators and when one might be needed.


Starting with primary schools, the biggest update to the guidelines is teaching the

importance of acting during an emergency rather than filming it. In an increasingly digital world, children are beginning to access smartphone and camera technology younger than ever, so it is important to ensure children are using their phones correctly to ring emergency services, rather than filming the incident to circulate with friends or social media.


Filming and posting videos of people experiencing a medical emergency can be extremely distressing for the casualty, and once a video is uploaded to the internet it can be very difficult to have it removed altogether. These new guidelines ensure children will be taught the importance of acting during an emergency.


Another major difference in this draft is the inclusion of teaching children about medical conditions. Previously, the focus has been on injuries whereas now it specifies common injuries and ailments. This can include a number of medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).


According to Asthma and Lung UK, 5.4 million people across the UK have asthma, including 1 in 11 children, and the UK has one of the highest mortality rates in Europe for children with asthma. Giving children an education on these kinds of medical conditions can increase awareness for those children who do not have asthma and allow them to recognise the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack and act confidently during an emergency.


For secondary schools, the guidelines are very similar to what was published in 2020,

including the footnote on the suggested age to begin teaching CPR (after 12 years old).

Much like with the primary guidelines, it now specifies ailments as well as injuries, meaning both primary and secondary school students must now learn about medical conditions.


So, now we know what may change, how do we teach children these potential new topics?


For primary school children, your First Aid lessons will now have to include teaching children to act during an emergency and not film it. You may want to explain to them why we would not film an emergency – it can be distressing for the casualty, but crucially it will delay the emergency services getting to the casualty if nobody else acts, thus endangering their lives. Asking children to role-play an emergency may help solidify this concept.


Additionally, both primary and secondary school students must now be aware of medical conditions like the ones previously mentioned. If there are students in the school with a common medical condition like anaphylaxis or diabetes, start with these. Teach them what the signs and symptoms are of each condition and what to do in an emergency, i.e. calling 999 or administering an auto-injector such as an EpiPen®. This will help the students relate these conditions to their everyday life and give them confidence to help their friends or family members during an emergency.


First Aid has been a compulsory part of the national curriculum since 2020. If your school is looking for an effective way to deliver First Aid lessons, Resus Rangers has everything you need to fulfil your requirements. We offer resources for teachers that are updated regularly in line with current government and HSE guidelines, workshops for students with experienced First Aid trainers, and online assemblies for the whole school.

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