Pedestrian training, swimming lessons and updated PSHE needed, according to new national strategy

11/10/2018

All children at Key Stages 1 and 2 should receive pedestrian safety training – including real-road environments and modern-day scenarios such as mobile phone distraction – according to a new national accident prevention strategy for England.

As part of the strategy, schools and local authorities are being urged to teach pedestrian safety and promote safe and active travel to tackle serious injury on the roads.

Safe and active at all ages: a national strategy to prevent serious accidental injuries in England, which is published by RoSPA today (October 11), also calls for the inclusion of accident prevention within any new compulsory health education curriculum, and urges that every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school. There are also recommendations to support the role of early years practitioners and health professionals in working with families to address the safety of under-5s, particularly in the home where they are most at risk of accidental injury.

The strategy, which has been developed by a wide range of partners including Public Health England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, seeks to address the rising number of accidental deaths in England and the heavy toll these place on the health and social care services, as well as the personal heartache that serious unintentional injury can cause.

Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s chief executive, said: “Serious accidental injury to children is a significant health issue that often gets overlooked as a public health issue – in England each year, an average of 132 children aged 0-14 die, and more than 100,000 are admitted to hospital – but this doesn’t have to happen.

“For under-5s, the home is the key area of concern from an accident point of view, and it is vital that there is support and training for practitioners working with young families. Road safety becomes increasingly important as children get older – as children gain more independence their risk of being injured as a pedestrian grows, particularly around their transition from primary to secondary school. Safer road environments are vital to encourage safe and active travel, but we must also ensure that we are providing our young children with the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe on the road.

“To prepare them for their lives ahead, schools must also provide safety education with a ‘learning about safety by experiencing risk’ approach to promote resilience. We must not wrap our children in cotton wool – instead, we need to provide them with the real-world skill of recognising and assessing risk as they start to make their own decisions.”

He added: “Despite swimming and water safety being a statutory requirement at Key Stage 2, we know that 45 per cent of children aged 7-11 cannot swim the required 25 metres. This has to change if we are to prevent the 300 accidental drowning deaths that happen in UK waters each year.”

The strategy aims to achieve a step-change in the delivery of evidence-based accident prevention programmes across England, promote safe and active lives and reduce the burden of serious accidental injury on society.

Its 25 recommendations for action address the major dangers faced by people across their life course, from birth to older age, and wherever they may find themselves – in their own homes, at work, in education, on the road, or during leisure pursuits.

Representatives of the following organisations participated in the National Accident Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, under the chairmanship of the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell: Public Health England; Association of Directors of Public Health; Blackburn with Darwen Council; Faculty of Public Health; Institute of Health Promotion and Education; Institute of Health Visiting; Royal College of Emergency Medicine; Royal College of Nursing; Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; Royal Society for Public Health; University of Nottingham; and University of the West of England. Contributions were also made by RoSPA’s national committees, including the National Safety Education Committee.

To read the strategy, and to find out how you can support the reduction of serious accidental death and injury in your community, see www.rospa.com/nationalstrategy

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