Does My School Need a Defibrillator (AED)?

Less than 1 in 10 people in the UK survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, according to the British Heart Foundation. In educational settings, like with any setting, having an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can be the difference between life and death. Children can still suffer from Sudden Cardiac Arrest at any time, despite the risk worsening with age.

An AED is a lifesaving device that delivers an electric shock to someone suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in order to shock the heart back into normal rhythm. Read more on what an AED is here. AEDs are also called defibrillators or Public Access Defibrillators (PADs).

Both teachers and pupils can benefit from an AED, and specialist paediatric AEDs are available to provide the best possible care for children under the age of eight or weighing less than 25kg.

Do Schools Have Defibrillators?

As it currently stands, most places of education will have at least one AED, depending on the size of the school.

Infant or junior schools, who have younger pupils, will commonly have different AEDs that are suited for adults and for those under the age of eight. The HeartSine Samaritan range of AEDs can be supplied to schools with electrode pads suited for those under the age of eight or 25kg.

Are Defibrillators Legally Required by Schools?

As it stands there is currently no legal requirement for schools to have a defibrillator.

However, in July 2021, the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, said: “We will look at changing the regulations, which are underpinned by secondary legislation, to ensure that all schools have defibrillators in the future.”

The government, in its statutory guidance on supporting pupils at schools with medical conditions, advises schools “to consider purchasing a defibrillator as part of their first-aid equipment.”

As all schools should be prepared to work with pupils with additional medical needs, considering an AED as part of first aid equipment should be strongly considered.  

Does My School Need a Defibrillator?

Through both duty of care, and non-statutory government advice, having an AED in a school is a sensible and potentially life-saving decision. Schools may commonly have AEDs for use by pupils and staff only, along with publicly accessible ones. Schools are often centrally located in the community and having a Public Access Defibrillator located at a school enables local communities to be equipped in case of cardiac arrest.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can happen to anyone, at any age. Both early CPR and defibrillation increase a person’s chance of survival. By having an AED in your school, along with the required CPR training that both staff and secondary school pupils have, can ensure that the survival rate of SCA increases.

Where Are Defibrillators Located in Schools?

Most schools, depending on the size, will often place defibrillators at reception areas or welcome areas, to make them easily accessible to all. As those working on the front desk will often be a first aider, this ensures they can quickly respond to an emergency if it arises.

If a place of education is spread across multiple buildings, such as in higher education or larger secondary schools, then you will often find multiple AEDs spread across the site in easily accessible locations, clearly identified by signs and/or externally mounted and illuminated lockers.

Schools and AEDs FAQs

Are Defibrillators Safe for Children?

Yes, defibrillators are safe for children over the age of one, but only if you have paediatric electrodes. These reduce the shock level sent to the child. Paediatric electrodes can be used on children between the ages of one and eight, or under 25kg in weight. You cannot use an AED on a baby under the age of one.

Is Defibrillator Training Compulsory for Schools?

According to the government,It should therefore be sufficient for schools to circulate the manufacturer’s (of the AEDs) instructions to all staff and to provide a short general awareness briefing session in order to meet their statutory obligations”.

AEDs are designed to be used by an untrained person responding to an emergency and so you should not need specialist training to use one. However, training on carrying out CPR should be provided to all staff and secondary education.

Defibrillator Funding for Schools

Currently, the Department for Education has partnered with Aero Healthcare and the NHS Supply Chain to provide discounted HeartSine Samaritan 350P Defibrillators to places of education.

To order a discounted AED for your school, please call 01403 599209 or email

You will need to be able to provide the following information about your place of education:

  • the name and address of your school or other eligible setting
  • your school’s six-digit URN (where applicable)
  • the name of your local authority (note that this applies regardless of setting type)
  • the type and phase of your school or other setting
  • a named contact for further correspondence
  • an email address and telephone number

We will then be able to communicate further with you to discuss your needs.

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