Department for Education promises to give every state school in England a defibrillator before the summer of 2023

Schools which don't have a life-saving defibrillator will be given one before next summer, education chiefs have confirmed.

All state-funded schools in England are to be given their own device over the course of the next academic year with the government footing the bill.

All state-funded schools in England should have a defibrillator by next summer under government plans
All state-funded schools in England should have a defibrillator by next summer under government plans

Defibrillators, which give a high energy electric shock to someone having a cardiac arrest, have the potential to save the lives of pupils, staff and visitors in schools, with latest research showing that accessing these devices within three to five minutes can increase someone's chances of survival by over 40%.

An estimated 20,000 defibrillators could be needed to ensure that every school has at least one piece of kit with possibly more given to schools which are on larger sites or spread across numerous buildings.

A survey, says the Department for Education, will soon go out to headteachers to finalise the number of devices needed.

Access to a defibrillator can increase someone's chances of survival even before they've reached hospital. Image: Stock photo.
Access to a defibrillator can increase someone's chances of survival even before they've reached hospital. Image: Stock photo.

Ministers first committed last year to looking at how to achieve a defibrillator for every school site - working with charities and experts including the British Heart Foundation to identify the scale of the need across English schools.

While some schools already have their own equipment, education staff say this will 'plug the gap' among those that don't.

The roll-out will build on existing requirements for schools to teach first aid as part of the curriculum, with secondary school pupils also being taught life-saving methods such as CPR and the purpose of defibrillators.

More and more students are now being taught first aid as part of lessons. Photo: iStock.
More and more students are now being taught first aid as part of lessons. Photo: iStock.

Education Secretary James Cleverly said: "Access to funding must not stand in the way of every school having on-site access to a life-saving defibrillator.

"The evidence clearly shows that defibrillators drastically increase the chance of survival from a cardiac arrest, and it’s particularly important that they are available close to sports halls and playing fields that children, young people, and the wider community use on a daily basis.

"That is why I am so pleased to be able to roll these devices out to schools across the country over the coming year."

Earlier this year two teaching assistants at a school in Faversham, Kent saved the life of a pupil using their CPR first aid skills and the school's on-site defibrillator.

The 10-year-old's heart stopped while he was in the playground with friends - with the pair's quick-thinking actions saving his life.

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