RCUK welcomes Northern Ireland commitment to CPR training in schools

Resuscitation Council UK is delighted that post-primary pupils in Northern Ireland will have access to CPR training, as announced by Northern Ireland Education Minister Michelle McIlveen on 20 September. 

The Department of Education has written to all post-primary school principals in Northern Ireland setting out its expectation that from the 2022/23 academic year, all pupils aged 11-14 should be provided with CPR training as part of the school curriculum. 

The announcement means that there is now commitment to teaching CPR skills to pupils in schools across all four nations in the UK. 

In 2019, all Scottish Councils committed to ensuring that all secondary school pupils would learn CPR in schools. In England, lifesaving skills, including how to administer CPR became part of the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education curriculum in September 2020, and is recommended for students over 12 years old. Earlier this year, the Welsh Senedd voted to pass the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, which included a commitment to teaching lifesaving skills in the statutory guidance.  

In response to the most recent Northern Ireland announcement, Dr James Cant, Chief Executive of Resuscitation Council UK, said: 

"We welcome the announcement that all school pupils aged 11-14 in Northern Ireland will learn vital lifesaving skills from the 2022/23 academic year. 

“It is hugely important to us that every student across the UK is given the opportunity to learn CPR, so that no school student misses out on learning the skills needed to save the life of someone in cardiac arrest. 

“We know that rapid action by others is crucial to someone’s chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest. Making CPR education universally available within schools will positively impact survival rates not only by teaching the essential skill of CPR, but also by increasing the confidence and willingness to act in an emergency. 

“Other countries, where CPR is taught universally in schools, see higher rates of survival after cardiac arrest than the UK. Northern Ireland will join Scotland, England, and Wales in their commitment to teach lifesaving CPR skills to secondary school students. 

“We encourage teachers across the UK to use our free resources to teach secondary students CPR.  Our lesson plan gives pupils everything they need to learn the skills and gain the confidence to save a life in an emergency.” 

Restart a Heart Day is on October 16. This annual CPR training day is the perfect time to teach students CPR. Find out how to get hands on, train your students in CPR skills, and check out our range of helpful resources on the Restart a Heart page.