I’ve been reading through the Blueprint delivery report, and while I haven’t finished all 253 pages as yet I thought you might find some of the quotes I’ve found illuminating.
These ones are taken from the section looking at teachers fidelity to the teaching methods required by Blueprint.
Blueprint Co-ordinator, Year 8:
“It was all of the activities that allowed pupils to become involved really, in a sense to be doing something, whether it as the card sorting or playing the game or getting them up and doing some role play for the party or whatever the case was – those were the ones that worked.”
Teacher, Year 7:
“When you have been chucking acid on metals for donkey’s years you don’t have to worry too much about the next thing, you know there is going to be a whiff and a pop.”
Teacher, Year 8:
“I have to say I didn’t feel very comfortable with discussion because that’s not something I do very often. I found it difficult not to preach…….I’m more used ‘This my way, this is the way we do it’.”
A School Drugs Advisor clearly found this lack of experience in using active learning techniques a bit of a shock:
“I hadn’t anticipated the lack of skills, lack of experience, lack of understanding, or a bit of all three, that the teachers actually had for active learning techniques…I was quite surprised how many didn’t even do basic stuff like small groupwork, never mind getting into pairs and so on – that’s been a big learning curve for us.”
Teachers explained why they deliberately changed the method of getting information across:
“The role play – these children didn’t have the ability to do that……I still did the task as a group but what I did was I had another teacher come into the class and I did the role play in front of everyone and then we took the children with us so we did the role play together.”
“Rather than me reading all the scenario out [in Lesson 14] I actually got different people to read the different characters out to make it a little bit more interesting, rather than hearing my voice all the way through”.
Here’s a School Drugs Advisor talking about the difference between teachers who are committed and those who aren’t:
“If the school…delivering the programme is delivering it through tutors [ie. not specialists in PSHE] you get such a range of enthusiasm and ability through the tutors and some will deliberately do things badly to avoid being given a tutor group the following year and that is through personal experience. So if you get a teacher who comes in very cynical and negative about it….then their delivery may not be as enthusiastic….It may just be a case of ‘right we’ll do this, away you go, we’ve got to stop now. I’ll follow the programme but I won’t do anything else’. But then on the opposite side, the training for the teachers I felt was – I thought there were a few teachers in our group who could have been like that and they were turned very positive by the end of it.”
And here’s another School Drugs Advisor on the difference that training makes:
“You can’t expect teachers [who] have no training in PSHE, which is drugs education, sex education, whatever,…..to suddenly use active learning methods that they’ve never used before; that they are not familiar with and they do not use in their normal day-to-day work.”
Moving on to the specific drug information covered in the lessons. Teachers reflected on the different levels of knowledge, and what substances they felt it was most appropriate to focus on:
“I personally would have thought that maybe, for Year 7, it might have been more appropriate to just focus on smoking and perhaps cannabis as well and maybe alcohol.”
“There was one lad, he knew absolutely everything about drugs….He is a real wild boy…and he hangs around with kids a lot older than him and knew everything….And he was keen to participate as well so he probably gave quite a bit of knowledge to the rest of the pupils as well. I was quite surprised to be honest. I was also surprised as well at the lack of knowledge that some of the other pupils had.”
Interestingly at least some teachers found it difficult to get their pupils to open up:
“I still think a lot of them, because I’m their form tutor, were saying things they thought I wanted to hear…They didn’t like to tell me things they might have been doing that they thought I’d look back on and remember at Parent Review Day.”
Here’s another School Drugs Advisor talking about the impact that they (and Blueprint) has made in one school:
“In terms of actually shaping the way PSHCE’s [Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education] taught at the school I’m not sure, I don’t know whether [my support] will have an impact. But what was interesting to me was that the teachers concerned felt that what they were doing in Blueprint was very different from the normal diet of PSHCE. That came out very strongly. It led them to question the methodology that was being employed in the school.”
One of the components in the programme was an attempt to get positive media coverage for the schools around the delivery of drug education. Here’s a Head Teacher reflecting on how useful that could be:
“When you get a good piece of press coverage like that, well, you utilise it. Schools get very good at, these days, if they’ve got some positive publicity, at recycling it and reusing it, and it appears again in other publications like the school newsletter and you feature it at presentation evenings, and you feature it in your prospectus, and all that sort of stuff.”
Clearly there’s lots more to be gleaned from the report than just these quotes (indeed I saw one table that I’m sure I’ll come back to in a separate post) but I certainly got a sense of some of the positive changes that came about as a result of the programme and it confirms the challenges which lie beyond if we’re to improve the delivery of drug education in England.
Filed under: Blueprint, Blueprint