Alcohol and drug education in the UK

“We don’t get taught enough” – An assessment of drug education provision in schools in England (2015)

The findings from Mentor’s recent work on school-based alcohol and drug education have been published by the peer-reviewed international journal, Drugs and Alcohol Today. The paper presents findings from Mentor’s London Youth Involvement Project and ADEPIS research, as well as key learning from the implementation of ADEPIS in schools in England. In doing so, we offer insight on the current provision of drug education in schools, with implications for national policy and practice, and present ADEPIS as a framework for supporting schools to deliver quality, evidence-based drug education.

EUSPR poster imageADEPIS Programme Manager Jamila also presented these findings with a poster at the Sixth EUSPR Conference in October 2015 – click on the poster image (right) to see a full-size version.

Key Points

  • Low frequency of drug education delivery: 48% students received drug education once per year or less.
  • Inconsistent adherence to evidece-based standards: 3 in 10 teachers favour ‘hard-hitting messages’, which can have a negative impact. Less than half of teachers use ‘challenge myths and misconceptions’, a key component of quality drug education.
  • Only 68% of students ‘trust the drug education they get in school’.
  • Schools are constrained by a lack of curriculum time, a lack of financial capacity, and the impact of non-specialist teacher training.
  • There is a need both to enhance the status of drug education within the curriculum, as part of statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic education, and to provide centralised guidance and support.

The paper is published in Drugs and Alcohol Today (2015) Volume 15, Issue 3, pp. 127-140. You can view a post-print version of the article here.

Drug and alcohol education in schools (2013)

This report details research carried out by the PSHE Association, on behalf of Mentor, to inform ADEPIS’s work in supporting schools’ drug and alcohol education and prevention. The findings outlined in this survey are the result of a detailed online survey of respondents from 288 schools (primary and secondary) and 20 follow-up telephone interviews.  In total, 156 respondents were from secondary schools and 70 from primary schools and the remaining 62 from other settings such as middle schools, FE colleges and pupil referral units.

PSHE infograph

Click here to download the PDF

Key findings:PSHE drug education in schools

  • Drug and alcohol education provision remains inconsistent in delivery across educational establishments within England.
  • Primary school settings remain less confident in their ability to access effective resources and to provide best practice in drug and alcohol education provision. A fifth of respondents from primary schools (19%) felt they had little access to effective resources for teaching drug and alcohol education.
  • Four-fifths (81%) of all respondents said they would like more classroom resources for drug and alcohol education.
  • While elements of good practice exist throughout educational settings, assessment and evaluation, continuity in learning and quality assurance of resources and external support remain weaker areas.
  • While there are numerous examples of excellent PSHE/drug and alcohol education teaching, overall many practitioners continue to feel constrained by a lack of curriculum time to build continuous learning, and gaps in finance for resources and staff training.
  • Staying up-to-date on information and resources around drugs represents a particular concern for teachers, especially in secondary settings.
  • Interview discussions reveal that practitioners continue to require advice on how to interact with parents around drug and alcohol education, particularly in primary settings.
To access the full findings of this report:

ADEPIS, c/o Mentor UK
49-51 East Road
London N1 6AH
020 7553 9920

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