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Use of information in Drug Education: Guidance for Teachers.

D-World has a list of projects for students to undertake. The projects are not just about health. They cover the use of substances in history, in modern day society and within different cultures. In this way the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco can be raised at different points within the curriculum. There are other areas you might wish to explore – for example, the impact on the environment and local economy of opium and coca growing in the developing world as part of a geography project.

For more information about drugs – DrugScope has produced a CD-ROM called D-ROM. Click here for more details and how to order.

Reading lists and other information sources:
We currently have two reading lists, one on educational materials (PDF 239KB) and one on resources for teachers published since the year 2000 (PDF 208KB).

DrugScope also has a Drug and Alcohol Education and Prevention Team. Find out about their activities here.

Find out about key publications in the drug education field here.

Schools and drug education

A whole school approach to drug education will involve:

1. Development of an effective drug policy
2. Training and support for staff
3. Development of a drug education programme in the curriculum
4. Involvement and education of parents and governors
5. Clear procedures for the management of drug incidents and
support for pupils and staff who experience drug related problems or oncerns.

Click here for a link to the latest guidance on drug education in schools from the Department for Education

The place of drug information in drug education

Accurate drug information is an important part of drug education. In the past young people have not always been given accurate information. There has sometimes been a tendency for teachers, and other adults, to exaggerate the dangers of certain drugs, often in an attempt to put young people off drug use; what one commentator has termed 'prophylactic lies'. Evaluations of drug education programmes emonstrate that 'shock/ scare' approaches do not generally prevent young people from experimenting with drugs. Young people find out, through their own drug using experiences and from talking to their peers, that they have not been told the complete truth. Adults then lose credibility as sources of drug information.

Similarly it is important for teachers and young people to have access to up to date information that is relevant to current situations rather than the past. 'New' drugs come into fashion and others go out of fashion. 'Old' drugs start to be used in new ways. Street names change over time and between different areas. What we know about different drugs increases over time as more people use them and more research is carried out.

How much drug information do teachers need to know to successfully deliver drug education?

Some teachers feel they do not know enough about drugs to successfully teach drug education. Some are also concerned that their pupils know more about drugs than they do. Whilst this may sometimes be the case adults often underestimate what they know about drugs and there is sometimes a tendency for young people, particularly teenagers, to think they know more than they actually do. Teachers do not need to be 'drug encyclopaedias'. Although teachers do not need to be specialists to teach the programme successfully, they do need a knowledge of the key facts, and a clear understanding of their implications for young people. In addition it is important that teachers are not taken in by the many myths that surround young people's drug use which are often perpetuated by the media.

There are a number of reasons why teachers do not need a detailed drug knowledge to successfully deliver drug education.

1. Drug education is not just about drug information. It also needs to explore aspects of attitudes and values and develop a wide range of pupil skills (such as risk assessment, communication, assertiveness, decision making, seeking help, helping others, first aid). Evaluations have demonstrated that in the past too many drug education programmes were overly focused on drug information with insufficient consideration of values and skills.

2. Many drug education teaching packages contain drug information activities which include answers and background information for teachers and pupils. For example, quizzes and card games always include answer sheets.

3. If teachers do not know the answers to certain questions they can always find out later. Ideally they will involve pupils in also researching the required information.

4. Some teachers do not feel comfortable teaching drug education unless they are very knowledgeable and know more than their pupils. However, teachers can utilise pupil knowledge and sometimes learn from them. This often makes for a very positive learning environment. For example, pupils may be more aware of current, local street names for drugs than teachers.

Effective delivery of drug education has more to do with teacher attitude and confidence than detailed drug knowledge. Developing a positive learning environment whereby pupils can air their views openly, be listened to and listen to others, discuss topics which are of concern to them, question and come to terms with complex issues is all important.


Understanding Drugs: Drug Education Pack for Schools (Key Stage 3)

A new resource for KS3 teachers – Understanding Drugs: Drugs Education Pack for Schools (KS3)

The pack supports the Government’s drive to ensure all young people understand the risks associated with cannabis and includes information and guidance for teachers, classroom activities and leaflets for pupils.

Packs can be ordered by from TeacherNet.

Copyright permission

The material contained within this website is the property of DrugScope. However we are happy to allow use of the information for educational purposes, subject to the requirements below being met:

  • Please ensure that all such information is acknowledged in writing as belonging to and originating from DrugScope.
  • Do not change the actual content in any way.
  • Ensure that the material retains all DrugScope branding such as any relevant logos. (Logos can be supplied).
  • If you are unsure about any of these requirements and/or would like to talk to us about what you want to do, please email Jackieb@drugscope.org.uk

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