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The provision of alcohol and drug education is an essential prerequisite for allowing children and young people to enter adulthood healthy and avoiding harms. Effective alcohol and drug education however is not only based on information provision. It should build pupils’ resilience and skills around alcohol and drugs.
Good alcohol and drug education develops pupils’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to enable them to live safely in our society. It is most effective when combined with programmes that address social norms and other risky behaviours that are common in adolescence, as well as other wider measures, such as a supportive school environment and clear school rules.
The drug strategy 2017 sets out how the government and its partners, at local, national and international levels, will take new action to tackle drug misuse and the harms it causes.
Before planning your alcohol and drug education curriculum, get the facts!
The links below will guide you in answering key questions that will help you develop age and needs appropriate lessons around alcohol and drug education.
The role for schools
Schools can help young people develop specific protective factors by:
- Helping them develop supportive and safe relationships
- Insisting on regular school attendance
- Providing pupils with strategies to cope well with academic and social demands at school
- Allowing strong and supportive social networks
- Encouraging good social skills
- Developing self-knowledge and esteem
- Building good knowledge of legal and illegal drugs, their effects and their risks
- Building good knowledge of general health and how to ensure their good mental health
Choosing the best approach to drug education is a key task for educators. See the Principles of Good Drug Education factsheet for more details.
What else do schools need to do?
Schools can help safeguard pupils from drug and alcohol harms:
- by drug education that helps equip pupils with the knowledge and skills they need;
- by clear school rules and effective responses to drug incidents;
- by supporting pupils at risk of drug-related harm, and those with drug or alcohol misuse in their family; and
- by raising pupils’ academic achievement and attachment to school – major protective factors
The latest advice from Government is the 2012 Department for Education and ACPO Drug Advice for Schools. Schools are advised that as a minimum, there should be:
- early access to support for pupils with drug or alcohol issues (or affected by family use);
- a written drugs policy available to all staff; and
- a senior member of staff with responsibility for policy and liaising with the local police and support services.
Policy and Guidance
This guidance is to support schools and educational establishments in developing a drug and alcohol policy. This should enable educational establishments to develop an effective tool which aims to achieve the following:
- Safeguard Students, Staff and visitors. This should include Health and safety and risk assessments.
- Ensure Students, Staff and visitors are not committing a criminal offence.
- Ensure clear and consistent processes can be followed, actioned and recorded.
- Support students in making healthier lifestyle choices.
Click here to download an example policy for schools & education establishments
Support with needs assessment when planning a programme of drug & alcohol education
Advice on delivering culturally sensitive drug education
Questions for Governors to ask about policy and practice
Engaging parents in drugs education
Specific advice for schools on policies regarding volatile substances