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On 24 June 2015, Teresa Pearce presented the Compulsory Emergency First Aid Education (State-funded Secondary Schools) Bill, having secured sixth place in the Private Members’ Bill ballot. This briefing has been prepared in advance of the Bill’s Second Reading in the House of Commons, which is scheduled to take place on 20 November 2015.

The Bill provides for emergency first aid education (EFAE) to be a compulsory part of the National Curriculum at key stage 3 (ages 11-14) and key stage 4 (ages 14-16). It also provides for academies, which do not have to follow the National Curriculum, to be required to teach EFAE at these key stages.

The detailed curriculum of EFAE would be determined by a school’s governing body and head teacher but the Bill specifies the skills and knowledge that it must cover, which includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the deployment of defibrillators. The Bill provides the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations amending the skills and knowledge that EFAE must cover, but sets out consultation requirements before such regulations are made for the first time.

The Bill also requires the Secretary of State to ensure that EFAE is included in initial and continuing teacher training, and to issue guidance on best practice in delivering and inspecting EFAE. Local authorities, governing bodies, head teachers and proprietors would be under a duty to have regard to this guidance.

The Bill extends to England only and would come into force on the day after it received Royal Assent.

Current position

Currently, EFAE is not part of the National Curriculum in England but is included in non-statutory programmes of study for PSHE published by the PSHE Association. A number of organisations also provide first aid training in schools as well as resources to assist in teaching emergency first aid. Government guidance suggests that schools may wish to consider raising awareness of automated external defibrillators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

There have been a number of previous attempts to make EFAE a compulsory part of the National Curriculum in England. The Coalition Government, while expressing support for raising the profile of EFAE in schools, did not favour making it a compulsory part of the curriculum for fear of producing an “over-prescribed school curriculum”.

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