Foundation Stage Capacity Building Review 2017-19

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

This resource aims to highlight how schools can integrate teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) into the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

Why should we explicitly teach and integrate CPR into the Northern Ireland Curriculum?
Skills in CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) can be carried through life. By educating and empowering young people, we hope to improve the chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

CPR can double the chances of survival

How does teaching CPR fit into teaching the Northern Ireland Curriculum?
Active and participatory learning approaches are most effective for delivering the Northern Ireland Curriculum. Encouraging students from pre-school to Key Stage 3 to learn about CPR will develop their self-confidence and help them to know how to transfer their learning if faced with an emergency.

How can schools promote CPR across the school community?
Restart a Heart Day takes place every year on 16 October. Schools are encouraged to use this day in the pastoral calendar to highlight how to save a life. They can do this using:

  • assemblies
  • posters
  • social media
  • Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PDMU)
  • Learning for Life and Work

Raise awareness with staff, parents and the wider school community by highlighting the GoodSAM App
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) and Southern Health and Social Care Trust have partnered with GoodSAM (Smartphone Activated Medics) to launch an app that links a qualified lifesaver with a patient in cardiac arrest in a public place, through a web-based alerting system. This increases the patient’s survival chances.

Response time to cardiac arrest is critical. The chances of survival decrease by 10 percent for every minute that passes. Volunteers who are qualified in CPR register with the app and are added to a database of responders, which NIAS Emergency Ambulance Control staff can access. When NIAS receives a call about a life-threatening emergency, it will despatch an ambulance and also automatically alert the five nearest responders within a 500m radius.

Pre-School & Foundation Stage

In the early years, schools and playgroups will use the medium of play and the common theme of People Who Help Us to explore what to do in an emergency situation. Doctors, nurses or members of the NIAS may visit the school to provide real-life learning about what to do in an emergency.

Role play areas can be provided to encourage children to be curious and explore how to use a phone to call for help.

The PDMU resources for Year 1 and Year 2 Taking Care of Me and Keeping Healthy, Staying Safe support teachers at Foundation Stage to further reinforce what children can do if they or someone they know needs help.

Primary: Key Stages 1 and 2

As children move through primary school, more responsive and reactive approaches to teaching CPR can be linked to curriculum provision.

The World Around Us

Schools can incorporate safety and basic first aid into teaching the thematic units that focus on personal development:

Key Stage 1: My Place and Yours Thematic Unit

Key Stage 2: Me Inc. Thematic Unit & Actions Speak Louder Thematic Unit.


The STEM comic for Key Stage 2 called Norn Iron’s Ordinary Heroes provides information and suggested learning activities about Professor Frank Pantridge and his invention of the portable defibrillator device. 


Throughout Key Stages 1 and 2 teachers can use the PDMU Strand 1: Safety to enable students to develop knowledge, understanding and skills in strategies for keeping safe.

Key Stage 1
Know what to do or whom to seek help from, if feeling unsafe.
Unit 3: Take Care, Be Safe
Year 3 | Living. Learning. Together.

Key Stage 2
Develop a pro-active and responsible approach to safety.
Know where, when and how to seek help.
Be aware of basic emergency procedures and first aid.
Unit 3: Stay Safe and Healthy
Year 5 | Living. Learning. Together.

Physical Education

Physical Education provides rich opportunities for students to be creative and imaginative and to think in different ways. They should participate in survival skills that will help them to learn safely about first aid and lifesaving at Key Stage 2. 

Post-Primary: Key Stages 3 and 4

Key Stage 3 and 4 students in Northern Ireland have the opportunity to develop an awareness of emergency first aid procedures through Learning for Life and Work and Physical Education.

In 2022–23, the Department for Education will expect all schools to provide CPR training to students at Key Stage 3. Schools should plan to integrate focused lessons on CPR for full implementation by 2022–23. This will ensure that every child leaving school knows how to save a life, empowering them to become responsible citizens.

Agencies across Northern Ireland have resources designed to support schools to facilitate learning in this area.

British Heart Foundation
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) Call Push Rescue CPR teaching materials include fully accredited lesson plans, teacher presentations and a quiz for testing learning. BHF offers a free CPR training kit. BHF advocates for defibrillators in schools and provides information on fundraising and buying a defibrillator for your school.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Community of Lifesavers resource – Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (

Resuscitation Council in UK
The Resuscitation Council in UK (RCUK) believes that schools offer a great environment for young people to learn the skills to save a life and have created a lesson plan to help you teach your students with confidence.

St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance provides free First Aid Lesson Plans and teaching resources that give young people the confidence to give help when its needed.

Red Cross
All schools in the UK can use first aid champions to teach the skills children and young people need to save a life. The Red Cross provides resources to teach basic first aid.

Areas of Learning

Physical Education
Personal Development and Mutual Understanding
The World Around Us