Schools are busy environments. With pupils of all ages undertaking a number of activities throughout the day, the need for first aid or medical attention can sometimes arise. Although the risk of injury is relatively low, in any situation schools must be equipped to deal quickly and effectively to avoid further injury or fatality.
A health and safety policy is an integral part of keeping staff and students safe in schools. Under Health and Safety Regulations 1981, all employers must provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and qualified first aid personnel. Interestingly, these regulations do not require employers to provide first aid for anyone other than their own employees. However, schools have a legal duty of care towards pupils and visitors and should include them in their assessment of first-aid needs and make provision for them.
Schools and Local Education Authorities need to develop their own policies and procedures, based on a detailed risk assessment to determine the adequate level of first aid needed. The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 have a checklist which you can use to help you.
The Department for Education and Employment has set guidance on first aid in schools, and the following list is the minimum first aid provision required:
Following a risk assessment you may need to increase your provisions if your school has a higher level of risk, or is based across multiple sites and you must also account for when designated first aiders may be on leave or off sick.
To read the full guidance from the DfEE click here.
The first point to note is that although as a teacher you are not required to train for first aid, it is a valuable life skill to learn and an essential tool that can help save lives. It is good practice to upskill all staff in basic first aid for common injuries and illnesses in school. This reduces the reliance and possible delay in care waiting for the designated first aiders. If you choose to volunteer, your employer must arrange adequate and appropriate training and guidance for you.
Even if it is not your direct responsibility to apply first-aid techniques, you can learn how to deal with any first aid situation using the Primary Survey. We have created a checklist to help guide you through the process and our First Aid for Teachers article highlights everything you need to know.
From 2020 onwards, all state-funded schools in England will be required to teach first aid as part of health education. This will include basic first aid for primary school children and full first aid for students in secondary schools.
As the Covid-19 outbreak has affected schools across the country and interrupted the curriculum, students can choose to still learn first aid with our free Prepared to Save A Life course. The course has been designed to teach first aid online in an engaging and interactive way and has already been introduced to parents and students at Ilkley Grammar School, Eastlands Junior School, The Bolsover School and many others.
Ensuring an adequate first-aid policy which meets statutory requirements and the individual needs of the school is the responsibility of the employer. However, it is becoming increasingly important to have awareness of how to react in first-aid situations across all ages, whether you are a teacher, parent or student.
If you’re interested in finding out more on health and safety including first aid in schools, view all our Health & Safety training courses. We have also created a variety of free resources shared at the bottom of this page to help teachers in implementing better first aid procedures, please download and share across your school.