Castle view academy

When you think about teaching first aid for this first time it might conjure up visions of having to have a formal first aid qualification, learn complex medical jargon and source lots of specialist equipment.

This is certainly what Emma McDermott, vice president at Castle View Enterprise Academy, thought until she introduced a new first aid programme and found that this was far from the truth. Castle View Enterprise Academy has over 800 students aged between 11 and 16.

Emma helps dispel some of the myths surrounding first aid learning in schools and explains how the First aid learning for young people resource from the British Red Cross has developed her and her colleagues’ confidence to deliver effective first aid lessons.

Myth: first aid isn’t relevant to my students

First aid complements so many different topics and it is relevant to a variety of different situations that young people will face in their everyday life and it can be used in the home, at school or in the local community. It also helps develops other skills, such as empathy, coping skills (as they know what to do in an emergency).

Myth: you have to be first aid trained

Previously, we shied away from teaching first aid because we always thought we needed a qualification or training and we were worried about getting it wrong. 

Emma said: “Our views have now changed; we are no longer scared of teaching first aid. The First aid learning for young people resource has really developed our confidence and we’re now able to deliver effective first aid lessons.”

The resource is really simple to use and provides all the information you need. We as teachers have all also taken the opportunity to learn first aid with the students.

Myth: you need to use complex medical jargon

The Red Cross makes first aid really easy, as it focuses on the single key action to take in a first aid emergency. So if you are helping someone who is bleeding heavily, the key action is to put pressure on the wound.

Emma said: “It is also good to talk with the students to reassure them that they are not going to make the situation worse, they just need to remember the key action and ensure they do something to help and not walk away.”

Myth: there is no time in the curriculum

We have managed to build first aid into the PSHE curriculum and recognised it was a gap we had. First aid can also be brought into other units, so when we are looking at alcohol as part of PSHE we can bring in the skill unresponsive and breathing. We are also encouraging our other colleagues (outside of PSHE) to teach first aid in registration period. Some of the activities are short, so if they have a spare ten minutes they can include first aid at certain times of the year, perhaps for burns around Bonfire Night.

Now we have incorporated first aid into our scheme of work we will be teaching it year on year.

Emma said: “I also think first aid should be a core part of a new statutory curriculum because it is one of those life skills that all young people would benefit from.”

Myth: you need specialist equipment

Everything you need is within the resource, aside from a few role play props, and it is really easy to use. The quality of the resources and their ease of use also gives you the confidence and knowledge to deliver a lesson because there is no ambiguity or gaps.

The resource has lots of variety, which means it’s easy to differentiate our lessons and understand what could work well for different groups depending on their age or learning needs. The students really enjoyed the different activities, from watching videos and animations to taking part in the role plays or online quizzes. Through the resource we took the elements that would work for our school.

Start teaching first aid

I would encourage other schools to start teaching first aid. Teachers needn’t be scared because the Red Cross resources provide everything you need and they are so easy to use. First aid is an important life skill because young people might find themselves in those situations and you want them to have the confidence to help and not be a bystander.

Find out more about teaching first aid in schools and our free first aid teaching resource.