Andy Burnham announces plans for cancer education for pupils at Britain Against Cancer Conference

16th December 2014

Britain Against Cancer Conference

There was big news in the cancer world last week when Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced that, under a Labour government, ALL secondary school children would be taught about the signs and symptoms of cancer.

He said: “Every young person should, as part of their education, have the opportunity to learn more and know where to go if they are worried.”

This is the first time a political party has said they would “commit” to cancer education for young people and as you can imagine, this is music to our ears. We attended the conference in Westminster, having the opportunity to ask the expert panel if they thought we could be doing more to help our younger people develop healthier habits earlier. Their response was positive, however cancer awareness among young people is still not seen as a priority.

Therefore, Andy Burnham’s announcement during his explanation of Labour’s cancer strategy, was both unexpected but equally very exciting to hear. His commitment to working with third sector organisations such as the Teenage Cancer Trust to deliver this promise, was certainly a step in the right direction.

However as you know we have been asking MPs to pledge their support for all students to be taught about cancer – so they know their bodies and could spot when something wasn’t right – and for all teachers to be taught how to teach cancer. This last point on supporting teachers is key, as this is the only way we can ensure that cancer education becomes cemented in the school culture. Therefore we want to see that teachers have protected time on the curriculum to teach cancer education and equally have the support to do so successfully. We believe that this means there is still work to be done…although, we will still be knocking on Andy Burnham’s door very soon to hear more and thank him for making cancer awareness among young people a priority!