A primary school is teaching young children vital life-saving skills.

From 2020 onwards, all state-funded schools in England will be required to teach first aid as part of health education.

But, at Hillyfield Primary Academy, in Walthamstow, first aid has been part of the enrichment programme since last year.

Headteacher Pauline Casbolt said: “Our children take part in enrichment sessions each week and we were looking for something different to add to the programme last year.

“We are always looking to build our young people’s skills and already teach them things such as cooking. We wanted something new to add to our existing programme.”

Pupils in year one and four have completed a first aid course, learning age-appropriate basic first aid, with skills developed and added to over time.

Mrs Casbolt said: “Children are learning what they can do for themselves, such as looking after simple grazes, and in what situations they need to get help. They can sometimes believe the world is ending if they get something like a splinter; this is about teaching them basic first aid and how to handle things like that for themselves.

“It is better for them to learn at this age rather than trying to teach them when they get to secondary school and the habits are already engrained. It is really important at this age that they pick up the knowledge they will go back to whenever they need it.

“We see so many pupils caring for their younger brothers and sisters, taking them to the park or out to play, and we feel it is vital they have this basic knowledge to stay safe.”

Martin Lacey, of Mini First Aid North London, takes a giant teddy bear into school to encourage the young children to take part, while the older pupils work on first aid mannequins.

He is also teaching them how to contact the emergency services when necessary.

He said: “What they are doing at Hillyfield is quite unique. Other schools have a one-hour session, but Hillyfield is giving four and a half hours to all of its children.

“From talking to the children, we can tell they are aware of what is going on out on the streets, so it is hugely important the school invests this much time and effort into them having an understanding of how to stay safe. The fact the school has chosen to do this shows what they think of the children and how much they want to invest in them.

“If every school did that, it would be hugely impressive.”