Teaching basic first aid in schools will be compulsory by 2020 but schools will be supported if they want to start earlier.
Plans to teach basic first aid in schools have been welcomed by the British Heart Foundation.
The charity calls the move a “decisive moment in the battle to improve cardiac arrest survival rates”.
There are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year and fewer than 10% of these people survive.
The survival rates double, however, in countries where CPR is taught in schools.
Now the government says that from 2020 learning those key skills should be mandatory for every pupil.
By the time they leave secondary school, all youngsters in England will have been taught how to administer CPR, the purpose of defibrillators, and basic treatments for common injuries.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Learning the basic skills of first aid and techniques like CPR will give young people the confidence to know that they can step in to help someone else in need and in the most extreme cases – it could potentially save a life.
“That’s why we took the decision to include health education alongside relationship education for primary school children and relationship and sex education for secondary children.
“These subjects are a crucial part of our work to ensure children learn the wider skills they need to flourish in the modern world.”