Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Australian Principles for Drug Education

At the moment the DCSF are looking at the guidance for schools around drug issues with an intention to bring out interim guidance ahead of PSHE becoming statutory. The Drug Education Forum is well represented on the group looking at this, with both our Chair and Vice Chair being members of the advisory group, along with others with a range of backgrounds.
I think that a lot of us think that the current guidance is good, but it needs updating to take account of changes that have happened since it was published in 2004.
In that light I was looking at Australian guidance and thought it contained some useful messages.
In Principles for school drug education the Australian Government set out 12 principles they want schools to follow:
  1. Base drug education on sound theory and current research and use evaluation to inform decisions.
  2. Embed drug education within a comprehensive whole school approach to promoting health and wellbeing.
  3. Establish drug education outcomes that are appropriate to the school context and contribute to the overall goal of minimising drug-related harm.
  4. Promote a safe, supportive and inclusive school environment as part of seeking to prevent or reduce drug-related harm.
  5. Promote collaborative relationships between students, staff, families and the broader community in the planning and implementation of school drug education.
  6. Provide culturally appropriate, targeted and responsive drug education that addresses local needs, values and priorities.
  7. Acknowledge that a range of risk and protective factors impact on health and education outcomes, and influence choices about drug use.
  8. Use consistent policy and practice to inform and manage responses to drug-related incidents and risks.
  9. Locate programs within a curriculum framework, thus providing timely, developmentally appropriate and ongoing drug education.
  10. Ensure that teachers are resourced and supported in their central role in delivering drug education programs.
  11. Use student-centred, interactive strategies to develop students’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.
  12. Provide accurate information and meaningful learning activities that dispel myths about drug use and focus on real life contexts and challenges.
And they produced a 17 minute animated video exploring those principles.
In Leading Education About Drugs which is focused on older young people and enabling student participation they say that evidence based education is critical and that these are the 8 key messages they want teachers  and peer educators to be able to communicate:
  • Using an evidence-based approach
  • Knowledge is not enough
  • Provide accurate information
  • Watch you don’t normalise or glamorise risky behaviours
  • Think about safety
  • Strategies have to match the person and the circumstances
  • Interactive strategies work best
  • ·         Tailor the programme to suit the needs and interests of the target audience

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