Drug and alcohol educationA social influences approach
• 7 in 10 pupils see teachers ashelpful sources of informationabout drugs, alcohol and smoking2• 86% of pupils agree that theyshould be taught about thesetopics in school – only 2% said theytended to disagree3• 7 in 10 pupils say that their PSHE teacherencourages them to think for themselves11 HBSC England National Report , WHO (2011)2 Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England– 2011, HSCIC (2012)3 Not yet good enough: PSHE education in schools, Ofsted (2013)
A model of good drug education• needs-led and age-appropriate, putting the pupilat the centre;• a two-way, interactive process of learning;• enabling pupils to explore their own and otherpeople’s attitudes and values;• challenging misperceptions about the prevalenceand acceptability of drug use among peers; and• developing pupils’ personal and social skills tomanage risk, solve problems and communicateeffectively.
...not yet universally delivered“I am 16 years of age;colouring pictures ofsmiley face Ecstasytablets will not makeme less inclined totake it.”“The year 11s are getting the same boringdrugs PowerPoint as the year 7s...”Mentor Youth London, 2012
Yet research backs up the importanceof a life skills approachReviews of the researchevidence find...
...that simply giving the facts aboutalcohol, tobacco and other drugs
...that simply giving the facts aboutalcohol, tobacco and other drugshas little impact onyoung people’s decisions
Dire health warnings also seem to beineffective
What does work?• Approaches based on ‘social influences’ arethe most effective at changing young people’sbehaviour.• Programmes such as ‘Life Skills Training’ and‘Unplugged’ have been tested in othercountries and found to reducealcohol, tobacco and cannabis use.• Their elements and overall approach have alot in common with good PSHE teaching.
‘Life skills’ include...• Assertiveness and managing social situations• Making and keeping positive friendships• Considering attitudes, values and decision-making
These relate to the different reasons whyyoung people may take drugs• Experimenting out ofcuriosity or boredom• To look tough• To deal with anxiety or stress• Enjoyment or relaxation• To fit in with a group• To rebel• Thrill-seeking• “Everybody’s doing it”
...fewer young people are drinking,smoking or taking other drugs than10 or 20 years ago.It’s a fact:
One element of successfulapproaches is to challengeyoung people’s ideas aboutwhat is normal and accepted(social norms).For example, young smokersthink smoking is much morecommon than it actually is.
Research suggeststhat how drugeducation is taught isas important as whatis taught.
Interactive drugeducation is muchmore effective thanlecturing students
• Successful drug preventionprogrammes demand timefor reflection, review andbuilding on knowledge –within lessons and insuccessive years.• Visitors should be integrated into awider curriculum rather than being aone-off event.
Should teachers hand overto ‘experts’ on drugs?
Police as drug educators• There is no evidence that police-ledprogrammes are particularly effective in drugprevention.• The most effective police contribution isprobably to teach about drugs and the lawwithin a school-led programme.
Are ex-addicts the answer?• Those who have overcome addiction oftencapture young people’s imagination when theyspeak in schools.• As yet there is little evidence that their talkshelp young people avoid drug and alcohol harms– could they even be counterproductive?• Rather than being seen as a quick fix, anycontributions need to be carefully thoughtthrough as part of a broader programme.
We know teachers can do agood job......but they need to be giventhe right tools and support totackle sensitive issues.The lack of training in teachingPSHE education is a realproblem.
Briefings on drug education• The principles of good drug education• Principles for supporting school drug education• Beyond the lesson plan: Drug prevention and earlyintervention• Engaging parents in drug education• Learning from life skills programmes in drug education• Legal highs
These and more resources are availablefrom http://mentor-adepis.orgSee also...• Reviewing your drug and alcohol policy: a toolkitfor schools• Get the facts about young people’ssmoking, drinking and drug use