Blueprint was a Home Office funded drug education research programme involving 29 secondary schools in 4 LEA areas; 23 are adopting the programme while 6 continue with their existing drug education programme to act as a comparison sample.
Eric Carlin, Chair of the Drug Education Forum, commenting on the reports said:
The Drug Education Forum welcomes these findings; there is a lot here to feel positive about. In particular we think it is significant that teachers were more confident in delivering the drug education after training.
We urge the government to build this into teachers’ initial training and to reinforce it with continuing professional development. It’s time that drug education became a subject that teachers feel comfortable tackling.
The report does make it clear that there is still a lot to learn, particularly around providing parents with what they need to support their children. Parents do want to ensure their children grow up healthy and we need to find ways of helping them do this and to spread the best practice that is out there.
We urge the government to ensure that community based approaches to drug education are complementary to those happening in schools, especially considering those who may not be in schools due to absence or exclusion.
Drawing from the executive summary here is a sample of what the researchers have found:
Key points for policy makers
- Secondary school teachers still have limited expertise in the methodology of teaching PSHE
- High quality and intensive training is vital to increasing the competence and confidence of teachers (implications for both initial teacher training and Continued Professional Development)
- Explicit clarity of purpose and underpinning principles of purpose increase teacher commitment and quality of delivery
- Teachers need clear guidance on PSHE teaching pedagogy, especially to understand and effectively use the experiential / active learning cycle (used in PSHE as a key tool)
- The delivery model of weekly lesson versus collapsed timetable seems to be of little importance – although some pupils do tire and may lose some concentration
- The focus should be on a social influences approach to drug education. Most Blueprint pupils paid little attention to the personal consequences of drug misuse, particularly the longer-term implications for their health, or the consequences for others. They focused more on immediate consequences for themselves, particularly loss of face with friends and peers, or negative self image.
- Pupil learning benefits from highly structured and clearly defined learning aims, objectives and activities
- High quality of pupil and teacher facing materials engage and excite participants.
- Recruiting parents of secondary school children to participate in drug education is challenging
- In drug awareness sessions it would be helpful to include ways for parents to address the impact that their own purchase and consumption of drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) may have on their children
- Clear links between class and home activities can benefit both children and parental learning.
There are also sections on media, health policy community engagement and the delivery of multi-component programmes.
Learning for Practitioners and Programme Designers
- High quality, intensive training in pedagogy and drug knowledge is vital to confident and competent teaching – it is important that teachers understand why and what they are doing
- PSHE programmes need to plan explicitly to use specific methodologies across the curriculum (such as normative education / risk taking / problem solving) to enable pupils to gain a cohesive and coherent experience
- High levels of active and interactive learning and high quality of pupil and teacher facing materials increase pupil participation in drug education and PSHE in general
- 15 x 50 minute lessons over two years seems appropriate to meet the pupil needs
- Use of classroom support (external school advisers, internal teaching assistants) needs careful management and structuring to gain full benefit
Similarly there are key lessons for parents, media, health policy and community engagement.