CPR training in schools

Emergency Life Support

In the UK there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests a year outside of hospital where the emergency medical services attempt to resuscitate the victim.

In the UK there are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests a year where the emergency medical services attempt to resuscitate the victim.

However, the survival rate is dismal – in England just 1 in 11 patients survive to be discharged from hospital and only 1 in 12 survive in Scotland.

There are a few simple steps that anyone witnessing a cardiac arrest, or finding a victim, can take to help save their life: calling 999, performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and using a PAD (public access defibrillator). But people often lack the skills, confidence and ability to step in and help.

We are determined to tackle this by creating a Nation of Lifesavers, improving survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Since October 2014, 4 million people have accessed CPR training using the BHF Heartstart and Call Push Rescue training kits at community groups and primary schools across the UK.

International evidence shows us that this approach works


In countries like Norway where CPR is already more widely taught in schools, survival rates as high as 1 in 4 have been reported. Evidence from places such as Denmark and Seattle in the United States shows that adopting best practice in emergency response and legislating for training in schools can significantly improve survival rates.


BHF’s influencing success


Thanks to years of tireless campaigning to get first aid and CPR onto the curriculum by the BHF and other organisations, the Westminster government have announced that first aid and CPR will be added to the primary and secondary school curriculum in England from September 2020.

We engaged with all councils in Scotland with the aim of creating a Nation of Lifesavers, and it was announced on 5 April 2019 that each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities has pledged to ensure that every secondary pupil will now leave school having been trained in life saving CPR.

In Wales a new curriculum is due to be rolled out in the new academic term in 2023. However, this may not specifically require schools to provide CPR training or PAD awareness. BHF Cymru, British Red Cross Wales and St John’s Cymru are engaging with Welsh Government to illustrate the importance of retaining these life-saving skills within children’s education.

Ensuring that all young people are taught CPR and PAD awareness at secondary school is vital to achieving our ambition and we work as part of the Every Child a Lifesaver Coalition to promote the teaching of age- and stage-appropriate first aid and CPR in all schools across the UK.

For more information, please contact us at [email protected]