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The rationale for ‘drop-ins

Young people learn and participate better when they are free from other worries or concerns, allowing them to focus on their learning. This improves their attainment and aspirations. Experience across the country and in Wiltshire has shown that a multi-agency approach to setting up and operating school based ‘drop-ins’ for young people is effective in enabling young people to access services at the point of need and ensures easy access to services that may not be available in their local communities.

Following the Education and Inspections Act of 2006, schools are now subject to a statutory duty to promote pupils’ wellbeing. 

Swift and easy access to specialist support services is underpinned by preventative work, which may be undertaken through PSHEE lessons and ensures the early identification of and support for a wide range of difficulties young people can face; ‘drop-ins’ can provide a mechanism for this.

Through their learning both in PSHEE and in the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme, students should be developing the skills to make healthy choices and to be responsible and pro-active in managing their own well-being; in the sex and relationships aspect of PSHEE this message is reinforced with specific learning about sexual health services and how to access them, for instance through the No Worries scheme. This learning should include:

  • the fact that sexual health services are free, confidential and accessible to young people under the age of 16 - with an understanding of the limits to confidentiality
  • the locations and opening times of local services beyond the school ‘drop-in’, as well as other sources of advice such as websites and help lines
  • the range of services available, including advice, contraception, testing for STIs, pregnancy testing, pregnancy counselling, and referral for termination
  • reassurance about what to expect on visiting a service, including conversing with receptionists and health professionals, and the processes that might be involved in each service.

Consultation with young people, both nationally and in Wiltshire, has consistently shown that they want school to help them learn about sex, health and relationships in ways that address the practical realities of their lives: Wiltshire’s own young people’s charter for SRE states that this includes learning ‘where we can go to get help and advice when we need it’.

Building on their previous National Healthy School Status and engagement in Healthy Schools Plus, many schools are now engaged in the Wiltshire Healthy Schools Programme. This engagement affirms their commitment to ensure that provision for students’ health and wellbeing extends from the curriculum into all aspects of the life and ethos of the school. Students learn in the classroom about making informed and responsible choices and knowing when and how to seek help and support, and this learning carries far greater conviction if it is aligned with the realities of the provision and the practical support that is accessible in school. The availability of a health ‘drop-in’ serves both to embed that practical support and also to convey a powerful message that the school values and promotes young people’s capacity to look after themselves and to take responsibility for their own and others’ well-being.