Drug education is a statutory part of the science curriculum for schools in England and can also be delivered as part of PSHE Education.
The definition of 'drugs' used by schools includes all over the counter and prescription medicines, all legal drugs including tobacco, alcohol, volatile substances, novel psychoactive substances ('legal highs') and all illegal drugs.
The aim of drug education is to provide planned and structured learning opportunities for pupils to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes about all drugs and appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, relating this to their own and others’ actions.
Evidence demonstrates that effective drug education delivered by teachers trained to use normative, life-skills based approaches, supported by parental and community involvement contributes to reduced substance misuse and improved outcomes.
Schools have an important role to play in tackling drug misuse, by providing drug education and wider support to all pupils. Schools also have a role in identifying pupils vulnerable to or affected by drug misuse so that those who need extra help either receive it in school or through links to other services. Some pupils, including young carers, may be affected by parental drug use.
- All schools should provide drug education, delivered by trained teachers, within a planned PSHE Education curriculum which is developmental and appropriate to the age, ability and needs of pupils.
- All schools should have a range of responses and procedures for managing drug incidents.
- All schools should have a drug policy which sets out the school’s role in relation to all drug matters – both the content and organisation of drug education, and the management of drugs within school boundaries.
Support for those working in and with schools, to address issues relating to drugs is available as part of PSHEE support.
As well as a focus on effective drug education, within PSHEE, Wiltshire Healthy Schools helps schools implement a whole school approach to addressing the drug related needs of children and young people, as recommended by NICE.
Wiltshire schemes of work promote the teaching of drug education as part of a planned progressive PSHEE curricculm; the sample lesson plans include use of age appropriate learning outcomes and regular opportunities for pupil and teacher assessment.
The Department for Education has comissioned the Alcohol and Drug Education Service (ADEPIS), who have produced national quality standards for drug education as well as other useful documents for schools and those that work with them.
Over the last 10 years there have been significant falls both locally and nationally in the numbers of young people using drugs, as well as improvements in the number of schools implementing drug policies.