First aid in schools

With the old school year drawing to a close, and the new school year just around the corner, it’s worth taking time to look at the issue of first aid in schools. Inevitably there will be staff changes over the holidays, so it’s important to make sure you are still meeting your obligations, both to comply with the law and to protect your pupils.

Children of all ages seem to get themselves into endless scrapes, as they go about their day bursting with the kind of energy we adults can only dream of. Younger pupils are especially vulnerable to illnesses and choking incidents, while older children tend to play rougher, with more contact on the sports field leading to twists, sprains and even broken bones.

So what are your school’s responsibilities for first aid and what provision should you make to help your staff to cope with an emergency situation and protect the health and wellbeing of your pupils?

Appointed first aiders in schools

As with any workplace, there are no hard and fast rules about the number of appointed and trained first aiders required in schools. Head teachers and school governors will need to make a judgment call based on a detailed risk assessment of each site, or each area of the school.

For low risk areas, at least one trained first aider is recommended for every 50-100 pupils and staff. This covers most areas of the school and most subjects in the curriculum. However, some circumstances within the school will come under the medium risk category. For example:

  • Woodwork and metalwork workshops, where pupils are using power tools and sharp implements
  • Science labs, where pupils are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals as well as sources of flame such as Bunsen burners
  • Sports halls and pitches, where pupils are climbing or playing physical sports, especially contact sports such as rugby

In these medium risk areas, it is recommended that there is at least one appointed and trained first aider for every 50 pupils and staff.

It is important to remember that you need to provide sufficient numbers of first aiders to cover breaks and holidays, as well as extra curricular activities. You also need to ensure there are enough suitably trained personnel for any trips away from school premises. Schools with split sites, several diverse buildings or distinct blocks such as science labs or workshops, will also need to consider this when deciding on the number of appointed first aiders required.

What training is required?

In first aid terms, a person becomes an adult at the age of 8 years old. This means that primary schools, with a typical age range of 4-11years, will need to be trained in both paediatric first aid and workplace first aid, while senior schools will require the same workplace first aid training as a business would.

Appointed first aiders will need to be trained and qualified to an approved standard, by participating in an OFSTED compliant 2-day paediatric first aid course, or a 3-day First Aid at Work Course. These courses prepares staff for a wide range of incidents and accidents and will allow them to take charge in an emergency situation. Each qualification is valid for three years and must be renewed on expiry.

While it is not compulsory, it is also worthwhile ensuring that all your staff have a grasp of the basics, with a short paediatric first aid course for schools or a 1-Day Emergency First Aid at Work course. These take just one day and can be an excellent team builder. CE Safety can arrange in house training at your school, as an inset training day, providing staff with a general background and teaching essential first aid skills such as:

  • What to do in an emergency
  • Management of unconscious children
  • CPR
  • Treatment of wounds and bleeding
  • Epilepsy, seizures and fainting
  • Choking
  • Asthma and diabeties
  • Head injuries
  • Burns and scalds
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Poisoning, bites and stings

Where appropriate, we can incorporate elements of paediatric first aid training into our standard first aid at work training days, to meet your specific needs in a single course.

The school first aid kit

As well as appointed first aiders, schools also need to nominate an appointed person to be responsible for the provision and stocking of first aid kits, as well as the restocking of the kits after they have been used. Such a person need not be formally trained in first aid, but it is often more convenient to nominate an appointed first aider as the responsible person, as they will be aware of first aid kit use.

Most schools will buy ready made first aid kits, complete with a wide range of equipment, dressings and treatments, however you can create your own. Once again, there are no hard and fast rules on content, but the following is the minimum recommended by the current guidelines:

  • a leaflet giving general advice on first aid
  • 20 individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings
  • two sterile eye pads
  • four individually wrapped triangular bandages
  • six safety pins
  • six medium sized (approximately 12cm x 12cm) individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings
  • two large (approximately 18cm x 18cm) sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
  • one pair of disposable gloves

The above list is a very basic minimum, and a more comprehensive list can be found in a British Standard BS8599 first aid kit.

Contents of British Standard Compliant (BS 8599-1)
First Aid Kits for the Workplace

ContentsSmall MediumLargeTravel
F/A guidance leaflet1111
Medium sterile dressing4681
Large sterile dressing1221
Triangular dressing2342
Safety pins12122412
Eye dressing234 1
Adhesive dressings4060 10020
Sterile wet wipe20 3040 4
Microporous tape111 1
Nitrile gloves – pair6 9 121
Face shield 1 23 1
Foil blanket1231
Burn dressing 10 x 10cm12 21
Clothing shears11 11
Conforming bandage 1221
Finger dressing23 40
Sterile eyewash 250ml 0001

Mobile first aid kits should also be provided for excursions away from school premises. These can be smaller and less comprehensive, but should still provide the basic tools for dealing with an emergency until expert help can be sought.

Find out more

For more details on your legal responsibilities, and advice for teachers and governors, download the pdf of the Department for Education’s Guidance on First Aid for Schools.

To find out about Paediatric First Aid Courses for Schools, OFSTED Approved Paediatric First Aid Training and First Aid at Work courses held across the UK, talk to the friendly team at CE Safety today on 0808 164 9690.