Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Survey – A Mandatory Code of Practice?

Alcohol Concern, the Faculty of Public Health, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Physicians are conducting a survey about the consultation on whether there should be a mandatory code of practice for the drinks industry.  They say:

We believe society would benefit if levels of binge and harmful drinking could be reduced. The government is currently working on a code of practice for the drinks industry, that we hope will put an end to irresponsible sales promotions and empower consumers to exercise more choice.

2009 has already seen a flurry of competitive pricing promotions, for example:

  • ‘Drink all you can’ for £5.99 on Friday nights in January – (Tokyo Project nightclub, Oldham, January 2009)
  • A pint of bitter for 1p when you buy a spirit for £1.99 – Dukedom Group pubs (Stockton, Redcar, the Wirral, Hull, Barnsley and Nelson, Lancs. January 2009)

In the off-trade, supermarkets have admitted to selling alcoholic drinks below cost as a means of attracting customers and increasing total sales, a practice known as ‘loss-leading’.

You can take part in the survey here.


Filed under: alcohol, consultation

Consultation on Primary Curriculum and PSHE

Sir Jim RoseAlong with about 200 others I’ve spent this morning at a consultation event the QCA have organised around the proposed new primary curriculum, and making PSHE a statutory subject.

The people at the event came from a very diverse set of backgrounds, for example I was sat between someone from the Ordinance Survey and on the other side a head teacher who was representing ASPE.  Others on my table were there from a business and enterprise background, a teaching union, a couple of curriculum advisers from local authorities, and someone from National Strategies.

One of the things that struck me was how positive the room was about the potential of what Sir Jim has produced.  They didn’t share the concerns expressed in the press about the importance of ICT in the proposed curriculum, and while there were concerns expressed about the naming of certain aspects of learning these were mildly put rather than a demand that we return to more clear subject based learning.

PSHE Education

That point came out even more strongly in the discussion about making PSHE statutory.  Amongst this audience 67% strongly agreed with PSHE becoming statutory, with a further 23% tending to agree with the statement.

There was also a strong majority who would not give parents the right to remove their children from the sex and relationships aspects of PSHE education.  The feeling seemed to be that education about sex and relationships (particularly relationships) was critical to the children’s personal development.

We were also asked about the name of PSHE education, and it seemed clear that there’s no real love for it.  Only 4% strongly agreed that it was the best name possible, with 20% tending to agree with the statement.  25% tended to disagree and 17% strongly disagreed – with 33% saying they didn’t know.  The discussion at our table tended towards the view that PSHE education needed a fresh start and that a new name (Life Skills was mooted) would be helpful.

There was also a strong feeling against attainment targets, with 42% saying they strongly thought there shouldn’t be any for PSHE education, and only 8% strongly feeling there should be.   However, the discussion we had also recognised that measuring attainment may be part of what PSHE education needed to gain status in school.


The consultation on these two areas remains open for everyone to contribute to until 24 July.  More details can be found on the QCA website.

Filed under: consultation, PSHE

School-based interventions to prevent smoking: consultation on the evidence

NICE have published the evidence papers for the guidance they are developing on school based tobacco interventions.

There are 4 papers they are consulting on:

  • A cost effectiveness review;
  • A qualitative review;
  • An effectiveness review; and
  • An economic modelling report.

They say:

The aim of this consultation is to enable stakeholders to consider the evidence gathered and to provide the opportunity to comment, in particular on:

  • major gaps in the evidence gathered, including papers in the published literature that we have not been able to identify
  • queries around the interpretation of the evidence, both of single studies and the reviewed material as a whole
  • the applicability of the evidence and its usefulness for the development of guidance
  • issues relating to equality
  • issues relating to cost-effectiveness

Filed under: consultation, NICE, tobacco

Consultation on PSHE and Primary Curriculum

The QCA have been asked by the secretary of state to undertake the consultations on PSHE becoming statutory and on the new primary curriculum.


They say:

Reviews into PSHE education by QCA, Ofsted and others report that the quality of delivery of PSHE education varies between schools and does not always adequately meet the needs of children and young people. One reason for this could be the subject’s current non-statutory status.

Following an independent review led by Sir Alasdair Macdonald into the provision and status of PSHE education, it has been recommended that it become part of the statutory national curriculum at all key stages. It is proposed that this will raise its status as a subject, improve provision and underline its key role in supporting children and young people’s personal wellbeing and development needs.

See more and download the consultation documents here.

Primary Curriculum

The QCA say:

Sir Jim Rose’s final report has proposed the following changes to the primary curriculum:

  • basing the revised curriculum on three fundamental aims:
    1. successful learners
    2. confident individuals
    3. responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society
  • reinforcing the importance of literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT) and learning and thinking skills, personal and emotional skills and social skills as the essentials for learning and life
  • reorganising the knowledge, skills and understanding contained in the primary curriculum into six broad areas of learning
  • creating a less prescriptive curriculum that increases flexibility for personalisation.

Find out more here.

Filed under: consultation, PSHE

The Drug Education Forum’s response to the Young People and Alcohol Guidance consultation

The Forum has submitted the following response to the current consultation on young people and alcohol, which takes in the Chief Medical Officers draft guidance and DCSF draft messages to parents and young people.
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: alcohol, consultation, Government

Alcohol Consultation – A Reminder

As we’ve got a few days to respond to the consultation on the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance to parents and young people about alcohol I thought it might be helpful to be reminded what it is he’s saying and what some of the implications are from the 5 statements he’s made.

I’ve also put together another slide set which has a number of the messages that the government are thinking of using with parents and young people.

The consultation on both closes on 23 April.

Filed under: alcohol, consultation, Government

Drinkaware survey of practitioners

Via email, I’ve been asked to bring your attention to another survey that Drinkaware are carrying out at the moment.  My correspondent says:

We have also launched our own in house survey, which asks specific questions on the support professionals would most like Drinkaware to provide.

The questionnaire is very quick (only 9 questions long) and all entries will be entered into a prize draw. First prize is £100 of Marks and Spencers vouchers and there are runner up prizes of £50 and £25 of M&S vouchers.

The results of this will be used to inform the Drinkaware youth strategy so we are keen for people to get a chance to have their say.

Closing date is Friday 3rd April.

You can take the survey here.

Filed under: consultation, Drug Education Forum Members

Response to Safe Social Sensible Consultation

The Drug Education Forum has submitted a response to the Department of Health’s consultation on the next steps in the alcohol strategy.

In part the response says:

It is our view that schools need to play a significant role in providing young people with their entitlement to information, advice and skill base around decision making on alcohol.

We believe that this is best delivered in the context of PSHE and that one of the steps that government should take to support this is to make PSHE a statutory subject.

The evidence for what is effective in alcohol education is slowly growing. EUDAP, School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project and Blueprint all suggest promising ways forward for school based alcohol education.

The Forum also says:

We believe that health messages should be part of print advertising; but it is also vital that young people receive education to help them interpret the risks they might face if they drink and the advertising of alcohol that they see.

The full response is available for download.

Filed under: alcohol, consultation

Indicators of a school’s contribution to well-being

The BBC:

Schools in England are to be held to account on a wide range of measures of pupil well-being.

Ofsted is to use parents’ and pupils’ views on issues such as how a school discourages drug and alcohol use and offers relationship guidance.

Contrary to early reports, teenage pregnancy, obesity and drug use rates will not be used to judge schools.

The story goes on to give teaching union opinion of the proposals which are mixed.

But nothing is yet set in stone.  Ofsted are consulting on these proposals and say:

As signalled in the Children’s Plan and in the well-being guidance, the DCSF and Ofsted have been working to develop strong school-level indicators of pupils’ well-being. These indicators will improve the information available to schools to help them assess the well-being issues their pupils face and to evaluate the school’s contribution to promoting pupil well-being. Ofsted will be looking for evidence from all schools on well-being and therefore the indicators will apply to all maintained schools, primary, secondary, special and Pupil Referral Units and to academies.

The consultation paper says:

Although schools can influence a range of outcomes beyond those relating to achievement, that does not imply that they should be held fully accountable for those outcomes. There is no intention to hold schools to account for well-being outcomes over which they have limited influence such as levels of child obesity or teenage pregnancy rates. Parents have the biggest influence on their children’s wellbeing. Alongside parents, other services, and the LA itself, also play key roles. What a school can reasonably be held to account for is its contribution to improving ou tcomes, an d its impact, recognising that this co ntribution may often be made as part of a partnership, and in a context where achieving improvement may be particularly challenging.

The paper proposes two types of indicator:

  1. indicators relating to quantified outcomes over which schools can have significant influence
  2. indicators based on the perceptions of pupils and parents, relating to the ECM outcomes themselves and the school’s contribution to them.

Ofsted are also proposing to have a local area profile built from the information that is being delivered by the National Indicators – see here for more on the drug element of those.

The first set of indicators they are proposing are related to quantified outcomes:

  1. the school’s overall attendance rate for the most recent school year for which data are available
  2. the percentage of persistent absentees – pupils who have missed more than 20% of sessions
  3. percentage of pupils doing at least two hours a week of high quality PE and sport 
  4. the take-up of school lunches 
  5. rate of permanent exclusion 
  6. (for secondary schools) post-16 progression measures. (Participation in learning in the year after they left compulsory schooling).

The second set relate to parent or pupil’s perceptions which they expect to capture from surveys and which they say should cover the extent to which:

  • the school
    • promotes healthy eating
    • promotes exercise and a healthy lifestyle and (for younger children) play
    • discourages smoking, consumption of alcohol and use of illegal drugs and other harmful substances
    • gives good guidance on relationships and sexual health
    • helps pupils to manage their feelings and be resilient
    • promotes equality and counteracts discrimination
    • provides a good range of additional activities
    • gives pupils good opportunities to contribute to the local community
    • helps people of different backgrounds to get on well, both in the school and in the wider community
    • helps pupils gain the knowledge and skills they will need in the future
    • offers the opportunity at 14 to access a range of curriculum choices;
    • supports pupils to make choices that will help them progress towards a chosen career/subject of further study
  • pupils
    • feel safe
    • experience bullying
    • know who to approach if they have a concern
    • enjoy school
    • are making good progress
    • feel listened to
    • are able to influence decisions in the school.

The consultation will close on 16th January.

Filed under: consultation, Ofsted, Well-being,

Response to Preventing the uptake of smoking by children: consultation on the draft guidance

The Drug Education Forum have made the following comments on the draft guidance from NICE on preventing the uptake of smoking by children.

Recommendation 1:

“be informed by research that identifies and understands the target audiences”

“include advertisements that elicit an emotional reaction (for example, fear)”

The Drug Education Forum is well aware of young people’s often stated claim that they would find harder messages around drugs (including tobacco) would have a deterrent effect on their use.  However, there is no evidence, we are aware of, for campaigns carried out in this way leading to changes in children’s behaviour.

There does seem to be some evidence (see Boomerang Ads from Drug and Alcohol Findings 2005) that harder messages can have the unintended consequence of making drugs more attractive to some young people.

The Drug Education Forum does not believe that fear is the most effective reaction to be trying to achieve with public health campaigns aimed at children.  To support this view we would cite the findings in the review of effectiveness carried out to inform this guidance, which says:

“A UK-based (++)6 qualitative study found that social norms messages were more effective than fear messages at encouraging more committed smokers to consider their smoking behaviours and reinforcing awareness of the dangers of smoking in less committed smokers.” [page 6]

NICE will also want to make it clear that where campaigns are targeted at children and young people they need to be in line with the Advertising Standards Authority guidance.  We would particularly point to CAP Code clauses 9.1 and 9.2 (Fear and distress) and 47.2 (Children), and CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 7.3.6 (Children – Distress).

contribute to changing society’s attitude towards tobacco use so that smoking is not considered the norm by any group’

We endorse this as a critical challenge for the outcome of the guidance; as peer and family norms are powerful influences on children and young people.

Filed under: consultation, NICE, tobacco,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2018
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