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CPR training to become part of NI school curriculum


A woman demonstrating how to deliver CPR on a dummy

A woman demonstrating how to deliver CPR on a dummy

Colin McGrath SDLP

Colin McGrath SDLP


A woman demonstrating how to deliver CPR on a dummy

All 11-14 year olds in post-primary schools are to be taught CPR and instructed in how to use defibrillators after the Department of Education confirmed a change to the school curriculum.

The Department said the necessary arrangements for the change will be made ‘as soon as possible’ with schools already expected to begin the training in September.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath had been progressing a private member’s bill through the Assembly to address the need for the training of all young people in the vital life saving skills.

Mr McGrath has now withdrawn his proposed legislation, with the Department stepping in to formalise the curriculum change.

Dr Suzanne Kingon, Head of Curriculum and Assessment at the Department, told the Education Committee: “This amendment builds on the Minister’s work already undertaken. In September the department wrote to all post primary schools setting out the expectation that they will introduce CPR training at Key Stage 3 from September 2022.

“The current proposal gives a legislative basis to this expectation.

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“Legislation is only one part of the answer,” Dr Kingon continued.

“The Department will commission the CCEA and the Education Authority to develop and provide a range of bespoke resources and training to support the universal rollout of CPR training.

The Department said it would be working with the British Heart Foundation and the NI Ambulance Service to provide the necessary resources.

Some £70,000 has been allocated to fund the initial stage of developing resources.

“This will save lives,” said Mr McGrath.

“Every year in the North around 1,400 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting and shockingly less than one in ten survive.

“If we equip every young person with these skills then we would greatly increase the number of people in our society who could appropriately intervene if they are present when a cardiac arrest occurs.

“Being present when someone suffers a medical emergency is scary – many people freeze and don’t know what to do and this bill would give people the confidence to act. We have seen in a number of high-profile incidents recently how important early intervention is when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

“Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a person’s chances of survival by up to 10% and survival rates are higher in places where more people are trained to perform CPR and are willing to intervene.

“For someone who suffers a cardiac arrest it could mean the difference between life and death.”

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