Headteacher John Barlow is calling for more of his colleagues to introduce life-saving lessons in their schools.

Mr Barlow, from Monkton Park Primary School, Chippenham, is backing a St John Ambulance campaign to encourage hundreds of schools to join the Big First Aid Lesson on Friday, June 20.

The free, one-hour, online first aid session will be streamed live into classrooms across the country.

Only 18 per cent of people in the South West would know what to do when faced with a medical emergency, according to a survey of 4,000 people by St John Ambulance in August 2012.

But first aid is not an obligatory part of the National Curriculum and only 22 per cent of schools in England offer training, with 41 per cent giving lack of staff training as the reason.

Mr Barlow, whose school is bucking this trend, said: “I believe every school should teach first aid. It certainly adds another dimension to our pupils’ lives and enriches Monkton Park.

“Sports and other after-school activities are great, but first aid gives children an opportunity to have a club that’s a bit different and, with the skills they’re learning, they could save a life one day.

“It’s very popular with our pupils and I’ve had 100 per cent support from parents and carers as well.”

The club runs on Wednesdays in the autumn and spring terms.

The St John programme, which combines first aid learning with real life stories, has been designed for students aged between seven and 16.

Jim Jones, regional training manager for St John Ambulance, said: “We believe that first aid should be as much a part of growing up as learning to cross the road.

“It’s so easy to learn and can have such an incredible impact on people’s lives but, because it’s not compulsory on the national curriculum, only a minority of schoolchildren would know what to do if one of their classmates, or a member of their family became ill or injured.

“It only takes an hour to learn how to save a life, but it could be the most important lesson your students ever learn. We hope teachers take this opportunity and sign up for the Big First Aid Lesson.”

Sign up at www.sja.org. uk/bigfirstaidlesson