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Drug education in schools

Key reading:

Quality standards for effective alcohol and drug education

Mentor ADEPIS, UK, 2014
The standards (PDF) – comprising statements explaining the criteria for meeting each requirement – are coupled with the following supporting tools: Further reading and resources; Examples of how standards might be evidenced; Self assessment forms

Drug advice for schools

UK. Department for Education & ACPO, 2012
The Department and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have jointly produced Drug Advice for Schools, which is non-statutory and helps answer some of the most common questions raised by school staff in this area.

The advice is primarily for headteachers, school staff and governing bodies in maintained schools, academies, independent schools, sixth form colleges, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and other forms of alternative education provision.

The Department has worked closely with the ACPO to update and revise the information in line with the Department’s improved approach to issuing advice and guidance – it is now 12 pages long. They have removed the information on drug and alcohol education as this is currently taught as part of statutory National Curriculum science (subject to the current review) and of non-statutory PSHE education, also under review. The advice replaces existing guidance published in 2004.
Download: Full guidance (PDF 65KB)

Blueprint drugs education: the response of pupils and parents to the programme

UK. Home Office, 2009.
This executive summary (which comes from the final report), focuses on the second stage of the Blueprint evaluation. It sets out to assess how pupils and parents responded to the programme, pupils’ awareness and knowledge of drug use, their perception of drug use and acceptability of drug use among same-age peers, and the quality and frequency of parent-child communication on drugs
Web: Full report (PDF)

Independent review of the proposal to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory

UK. Department of Children, Schools and Families, 2009.
Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education aims to help children and young people deal with the real life issues they face as they grow up. The issues that PSHE education covers are central to young people’s wellbeing and include: nutrition and physical activity; drugs, alcohol and tobacco education; sex and relationships education; emotional health and wellbeing; safety; careers education; work-related learning; and personal finance. In doing so, PSHE education plays a major role in schools’ contribution to the five Every Child Matters outcomes.

This review provides a number of firm recommendations for the DCSF to consider, perhaps most immediately that PSHE education should become part of the statutory National Curriculum in both primary and secondary phases.
Download: Full report (PDF 0.9MB)

Effective Drug Education Survey – Findings

Drug Education Forum, 2008.
As part of the Children's Plan the government committed themselves to reviewing the effective delivery of drug education in England. The Drug Education Forum developed a survey to help inform that review. This report details the findings of the survey with 350 respondents.The three things that respondents felt must change were: To improve the status drug education in the framework of PSHE, giving it statutory status and increased time over the course of the school year; Increased access and commitment to training, both at initial stages and as part of a continuing professional development; and the development of a clear curriculum and the resources to deliver it.
Download: Full report (PDF 179KB)

Drug Education: an Entitlement For All: A report to Government by the Advisory Group on Drug and Alcohol Education

UK. Drug And Alcohol Advisory Group, 2008.
Key Recommendationsfrom this report are: Increase parents’ and carers’ knowledge
and skills about drug and alcohol education and prevention enabling them to better inform and protect their children; Improve the quality of drug and alcohol education by making PSHE a statutory subject – to enable schools and colleges to promote well-being effectively, and to improve the quality of training for PSHE teachers; and Improve identification and support for young people vulnerable to drug misuse in schools, colleges and non-formal settings.
Download: Full report (PDF 391 KB)

Alcohol and drug prevention in colleges and universities

Polymerou A. Mentor Foundation, 2007.
The aim of this paper is to review the evidence around the harm that alcohol and/or drugs cause among further education college and university students in the UK and examine the effectiveness of drug prevention. Little is known about the harm that alcohol and/or drugs cause among students in the UK and about the effectiveness of universities and colleges’ efforts to prevent substance misuse and related harm. Evidence about the effectiveness of drug education / awareness campaigns, social norms interventions, extracurricular activities and motivational interviewing is discussed. The paper concludes that more effort is needed to build the evidence base of drug prevention, increase the profile of drug prevention in further and higher education and support further education colleges and universities to deliver effective interventions.
Download: 346 KB)

Blueprint Drug Education Research Programme - Delivery and Practitioner Reports

UK. Home office, DOH, Dept for Children, Schools and Families, 2007.
Blueprint is the Government's research programme designed to test the effectiveness of a multi-component approach to school-based drug education The programme aims to provide both immediate learning to influence drug education policy and practice, and a clearer idea of what future research priorities should be.The Executive Summary of both the Delivery Report and Practitioner Report sets out the key learning points from both reports for policy makers and practitioners and programme designers. The Delivery Report assesses the extent to which the programme was delivered as intended and identifies factors which either facilitated or hindered delivery.The Practitioner Report highlights findings particularly relevant to teachers delivering drug education.

National Collaborating Centre Annual Review of Drug Prevention

NCCDP, 2007.
Building on the findings of 3 briefings by the National Collaborating Centre for Drug Prevention (NCCDP) this document presents and grades evidence in relation to drug prevention and introduces the economics of drug prevention.
Web:[final].pdf (PDF)

Knowing the score Positive Futures Case Study Research: Final Report

UK. Home Office, 2006.
This final report is designed to draw out the key themes that have informed the research team's conclusions about both the contribution of Positive Futures and the lessons which will help to establish a benchmark for sport and activity based social inclusion programmes in the future.

Drug use prevention among young people: a review of reviews. Evidence briefing update

McGrath Y., Sumnall H., McVeigh J., Bellis M. NICE, 2006.
The aim of this publication is to update the evidence briefing, Drug use prevention among young people: a review of reviews (2004), by reviewing tertiary-level evidence published between January 2002 and September 2004. Consistent with the previous briefing, it focuses on ‘what works' to prevent and/or reduce illicit drug use among young people aged between 7 and 25 years old.

Review of grey literature on drug prevention among young people

NICE, 2006.
The aim of this review is to complement the evidence base built by mainstream literature for drug prevention among young people by systematically reviewing those drug prevention materials that do not traditionally find their way into systematic reviews, namely grey literature
Download: Literature review (PDF 391KB)

Mobile pupils and drug education: a briefing paper for drug education professionals

Drug and Alcohol Education and Prevention Team, DrugScope, Alcohol Concern, 2006.
This briefing identifies the specific issues for school drug policy that are raised by 'mobile pupils'
Download: Briefing (PDF 192KB)

Continuity and progression: a briefing paper. Revised 2006

Drug and Alcohol education and prevention Team, DrugScope, 2006.
This briefing summarises: good practice in drug education, a rationale for the importance of planning for continuity and progression, a case study of one LEAs approach to addressing continuity and progression and recommendations for schools and LEAs
Download: Briefing (PDF 115KB)

Assessment in drug education: a briefing paper for teachers and other education practitioners

Drug and Alcohol Prevention Team., DrugScope., Alcohol Concern, 2006.
This briefing paper, funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and Department of Health aims to identify, promote and support the implementation of good practice in drug and alcohol education.
Download: Briefing (PDF 275KB)

Universal drug prevention

Jones L., Sumnall H., Burrell K., McVeigh J., Bellis M A. National Collaborating Centre for Drug Prevention.John Moores University. Centre for Public Health, 2006.
This study considers the effectiveness of universal drug prevention interventions, including school-based interventions, family-based interventions, community-based interventions, and mass media interventions.
Downoad: (PDF)

Pathways to problems: hazardous use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs by young people in the UK and its implications on policy

Advisory Council on the Misuse of drugs, ACMD, 2006.
This detailed report discusses why young people use drugs; patterns and trends in young people's use; the availability of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs to young people; characteristics of those most at risk; and school and other education based prevention initiatives.
Download: Full report (PDF 2.2MB) Note: large filesize

Joining Forces. Drugs:guidance for police working with schools and colleges

DrugScope, Alcohol Concern, 2006.
This project has involved extensive consultation with police and education practitioners, young people and other key stakeholders. The guidance offers practical and strategic support for police in drug education, drug incident management and supporting schools and other partners in developing local policies and protocols.
Download: Full report (PDF 0.8MB)

Responses to drug misuse: education and prevention

RSA Drugs Commission, 2005.
This detailed paper considers education and prevention as responses to drug misuse. It discusses drug education in and outside of schools.
Download: (PDF 378KB)

Drug education in schools

UK. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, Ofsted, 2005.
The quality of provision for drug education in schools is improving. Since 1997, the last comprehensive Ofsted drug education report, there has been a marked improvement in the quality of planning of drug education programmes; achievement is higher at all key stages and most schools now have effective plans for dealing with drug-related incidents. The quality of teaching has improved at all key stages, but the continued involvement of secondary teachers who lack subject knowledge remains an issue for some schools. Though poor assessment practice remains the key weakness in many schools, developing a better understanding of the needs of the pupils is also an issue that requires attention. For example, we need to respond to pupils’ requests for a greater emphasis to be placed on education regarding alcohol and tobacco as they see these as the drugs that pose the most significant health risks to them.
Download: (PDF 184KB)

Tiered approach to drug prevention and treatment among young people

Burrell K., Jones L., Sumnall H., McVeigh J., Bellis M.A., Liverpool John Moores University, 2005.
This briefing describes the current four tier approach to drug prevention and how this relates to wider policy for drug prevention among young people.

Every Child Matters: Change for Children, Young People and Drugs

UK. DFES, DOH, Home Office. 2005.
The guidance sets out how those responsible for delivering children and young people's services and the drug strategy should work together to improve the futures of young people, their families and community.
Web: (PDF 320KB)

Exploring the depths: a resource manual for those wishing to develop peer education initiatives

Fast Forward Positive Lifestyles Ltd., 2004.
This publication explains what peer education is, its history, uses and outcomes. It covers techniques for developing, completing and reviewing a peer education initiative and provides definitions, case studies, activities and examples of effective practice.
Price: £25 plus p+p

Drugs: guidance for further education institutions

Drug and Alcohol Education and Prevention Team., DrugScope., Alcohol Concern. 2004.
The aim of this guidance is to help further education (FE) institutions respond to the drug education needs of students; manage drug-related situations; and develop and implement a college policy on drugs. The focus is on students aged 16-19 in further education but the guidance is also relevant to students in other age groups.
Download: Full report (PDF 246KB)

Drugs guidance for schools

Drug and Alcohol Education and Prevention Team, DrugScope, Alcohol Concern, DfES, 2004.
The DfES together with the Education and Prevention Team at DrugScope/Alcohol Concern have revised and consolidated the guidance for schools on drugs. Drugs: Guidance for schools replaces Circular 4/95: Drug Prevention and Schools and Protecting Young People: Good practice in drug education in schools and the youth service. This guidance sets out the statutory position on drug education for 5 to 16 year olds (Key Stage 1-4) and supports schools with developing a drugs policy, drug-related incident management and support and welfare of pupils.
Download: Full report (PDF 799KB)