A series of papers produced by the Drug Education Forum, for schools and others involved in drug education or informal drug prevention.March 2012
The principles of good drug education• Environment: within a whole-school approach• Planning: relevant and age-appropriate, manageable, informed by the evidence base, supported by evidence• Practice: interactive, includes a normative component• Content: using up-to-date information, exploring attitudes, developing skills and strengthening protective factors• Evaluation: informed by needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation
Principles for supporting school drug education• Visitors’ responsibilities include: using up-to-date resources and evidence-based approaches, following appropriate guidance• Schools’ responsibilities include: negotiating content and informing visitors about school policies and practice as well as class needs• Teachers’ responsibilities include: overseeing the session, reflecting on learning and following it up where necessary
Beyond the lesson plan Drug prevention and early intervention• Prevention: What schools can do outside ‘drug education’ to reduce young people’s drug use• Early intervention: ensuring young people get the support they need• What doesn’t work: random drug testing, sniffer dogs
The ‘school effect’• Research suggests ‘better’ schools (lower truancy and better exam results than expected) have lower drug use• School attachment – protective factors – relationship with teachers – stable peer group – physical and social environment – belief that education is important and relevant• Routes to drug use from poor school ethos – disengaging, adopting anti-school identities – establishing a ‘tough’ reputation for self protection – self-medication to deal with problems
What schools can do• Classroom management, for example the Good Behaviour Game• Pupil participation, e.g. in setting rules• Improving the school environment – physical – is it pleasant, are there unmonitored spaces? – social, for example the prevalence of bullying
Early intervention• Schools are responsible for identifying pupils at risk of drug misuse, and providing where appropriate: – general information and education – targeted prevention – a more detailed assessment of young people’s needs• Other pupils need support because someone else in their family is misusing drugs. Schools should have a comprehensive policy on meeting the needs of young carers
Random drug testing – a magic bullet?• Commonly used in the US• The evidence that it works is not strong (the largest study found no effect)• Negative impact on relationship with school• Possible negative consequences – switching to alcohol• No positive test = no problem...?• Positive test, followed by punishment (deterrent) and/or treatment = problem solved...? Or made worse?
Engaging parents in drug education in schools and in the communityProtective factors against misuse of drugs include:• young people spending time with their family• parents knowing where they are when they are out (in particular young people disclosing this to their parents)• clear rules which include limiting direct access to alcohol• close family relationships• good family communication (including parents listening to their children)
Ways of reaching parents• One-off events or workshops• Courses for parents or families• Events with children in school• Community-based events• Homework• Leaflets• Web or phone-based support
What if no one turns up?• What do they want? Ask them• Is a ‘drugs’ event off-putting?• What are the practical barriers, e.g. childcare?• Who’s asking? – the personal connection• School events will be in the context of the wider parent-school relationship...
Parents and schools• Are schools getting the basics right in communicating with parents?• Are parents partners with an active voice?• How can problems be solved and parents supported – does the school have a link worker?• It is generally much easier for primary schools to build up a good relationship with parents, but it is important for secondary schools as well.
Learning from life skills programmes in drug education• Good PSHE teaching is all about life skills, and many programmes focus on them.• In this paper we focus on LST and Unplugged – the two programmes with the strongest evidence base in RCTs.
There are many reasons young people may take drugs Curiosity To gain Boredom confidence ‘EverybodyTo look To fit in with does it’ tough a group Thrill-seeking EnjoymentTo relax To assert To bond To deal with independence with friends anxiety or stress
Life skills help address many of theseThinking skills Social skills Coping and self- managementDecision-making Making and Thinking about keeping positive longer-term goalsProblem-solving friendships ManagingThinking critically Negotiation emotions such asabout social anxiety and angerinfluences and Assertivenesssocial norms
Life skills teaching as a process• Using wider life skills with a specific focus on drugs• Interactive learning• Practice outside the classroom• Reflection and review• Learning as a long-term process, rather than one-off sessions• Teachers trained and supported
‘Legal highs’ Novel psychoactive substancesThis paper aims:• To give teachers confidence in covering this topic as part of general drug education• To cover issues specific to ‘legal highs’ – debunking myths• To promote principles of good drug education
Teacher’s role• Needs assessment: should legal highs be covered in detail?• Discussing the issues: does legal always mean safe?• Following principles of good drug education including life skills and social norms• Getting pupils to find out for themselves – from the right sources!• Credibility is not the same as being an expert on the detail
Myth: these drugs are legal• They are not legally sold for human consumption• They may contain illegal drugsMyth: they are safe• The health risks are similar to those of similar illegal drugs…• …with added uncertaintyMyth: their use is common• Social norms
• The principles of good drug All papers available from education www.drugeducationforum.com• Principles for supporting school or contact drug education email@example.com• Beyond the lesson plan: Drug prevention and early intervention• Engaging parents in drug education• Learning from life skills programmes in drug education• Legal highs