Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 21 May 2009

I have been asked by my school to look into how we can teach first aid, and am very anxious to get any advice right.

Hillary's Advice

A survey carried out by the charity St John Ambulance shows that seven out of ten school children would not know to offer help in an emergency, yet although first aid is a mandatory part of the curriculum for Welsh and Northern Irish pupils, it is still only optional in England and Scotland. So congratulations to your school for deciding to do this now, two years ahead of the current target date to make it compulsory.

In an area like this, go straight to the experts. The St John Ambulance offers a teaching resource pack which has so far been used to teach 300,000 children first aid skills. The British Red Cross also offers an easy-to-use kit (see below) designed for 11 -14-year-olds but suitable for other age groups as well. Its research shows that young people are woefully inadequate when it comes to knowing how to put an unconscious person into the recovery position or how to treat a burn, and that many would deal with a knife wound in ways that would make it worse not better.

Current curriculum guidance says secondary-age pupils should be taught ways of handling risky situations and how to use basic and emergency first aid such as the recovery position and resuscitation techniques. And, just in case you are worrying about any consequences of any first aid being wrongly administered, legal advice is that it is unlikely a successful claim could be brought against any educator or first aider trying to do their best.