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 cardiac arrests a year outside of hospital where the emergency medical services attempt to resuscitate the victim.

However, the survival rate is dismal - less than one in ten patients survive to be discharged from hospital and Only 1 in 20 people in Scotland can expect to survive an Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA).


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 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 arrest.   Since October 2014, 4 million people have accessed CPR training using the BHF Heartstart and Call Push Rescue training kits, working with community groups and secondary schools across the UK. 

International evidence shows us that this approach works. 


After Denmark legislated for all secondary school pupils to learn CPR, their OHCA survival rates tripled. Now one in four people in Denmark can expect to survive a cardiac arrest.


The same increase in survival rates has been experienced in Norway and Seattle in the United States, after legislation was brought in to teach CPR in schools. Now one in four people will survive an OHCA in Norway and one in five people will survive in Seattle.


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.

In Scotland a number of Local Authorities  have already committed to delivering CPR training in their schools, including Glasgow City Council, Aberdeen City Council, Perth & Kinross Council and Clackmannanshire Council. Our hope is to have every Local Authority in Scotland follow this lead, and commit to delivering CPR training in their schools. To do this, we are continuing to engage and influence with the aim of creating a Nation of Lifesavers in Scotland.

In Wales a new curriculum is due to be rolled out in the new academic term in 2018. 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]