Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Understanding physical development, health and wellbeing

The Rose review of the primary curriculum has a paper looking in depth at the aspects of learning associated with understanding physical development, health and wellbeing, the part of the curriculum in which drug education will be focused.

It argues that this is important because:

To enjoy healthy, active and fulfilling lives, children must learn to respond positively to challenges, to recognise and manage risk and to develop their self-confidence and physical capabilities. Such learning lays the foundations for long-term wellbeing and contributes to children’s mental, social, emotional, economic and physical development.

The essential knowledge associated with this learning area which seems the most closely linked to our interests is to build secure knowledge of:

healthy living depends upon a balance of physical activity, nutrition, leisure, work and rest to promote wellbeing

The document says that some of the skills that are needed to make progress are to be able to:

  • reflect on and evaluate evidence when making personal choices or bringing about improvements in performance and behaviour
  • generate and implement ideas, plans and strategies, exploring alternatives
  • find information and check its accuracy including the different ways that issues are presented by different viewpoints and media
  • communicate clearly and interact with a range of audiences to express views on issues that affect their wellbeing.

In terms of the breadth of learning that is proposed there are some very specific outcomes – such as learning to swim at least 25 meters – as well as more general points, including:

They should learn how to make decisions that promote and sustain better physical, mental and emotional health. They should learn how to manage their emotions and develop and sustain relationships, recognising diversity and respecting themselves and others. Through a range of activities and experiences; children should have opportunities to collaborate and to compete individually, in pairs, groups and teams. Through these activities, they learn about their capabilities, their limitations and their potential.

They go on to say:

Children should learn how to solve problems, to embrace and overcome challenges and deal with change. They should learn about staying safe and how to identify and manage risks relating to issues including harmful relationships, drugs and alcohol, and how and where to get help.

The paper sets out how the curriculum should progress between the early, middle and later stages of primary education. In our area of interest it suggests that

  • learning that some substances can help or harm the body should be addressed in the early stages;
  • that during the middle stages pupils should be taught about the impact of some harmful and beneficial substances on their body – in a footnote it says, “This includes the effects of medicines, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs on their bodies.”; and
  • in the later stage they should learn “how to make responsible, informed decisions relating to medicines, alcohol, tobacco and other substances and drugs”

The final section looks at cross curricular opportunities and suggests that schools should look to:

make links to other areas of learning and to wider issues of interest and importance, particularly through exploring ethical and moral issues relating to real life choices and decisions.

Understanding physical development, health and wellbeing, can be downloaded from here.

Filed under: drug education, education

Independent review of the primary curriculum

primary-reviewPrimary Review

Sir Jim Rose finished his review of the primary curriculum and while I’ve yet to read the whole document I have taken a look at the executive summary and recommendations.


The curriculum that primary children are offered must enable them to enjoy this unique stage of childhood, inspire learning and develop the essential knowledge, skills and understanding which are the building blocks for secondary education and later life.

To achieve this, the new curriculum must be underpinned by an understanding of the distinct but interlocking ways in which children learn and develop – physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, culturally, morally and spiritually – between the ages of 5 and 11.

Key features of a new primary curriculum

  • recognise the continuing importance of subjects and the essential knowledge, skills and understanding they represent.
  • provide a stronger focus on curriculum progression.
  • strengthen the focus on ensuring, that by the age of 7, children have a secure grasp of the literacy and numeracy skills they need to make good progress thereafter.
  • strengthen the teaching and learning of information and communication technology (ICT) to enable children to be independent and confident users of technology by the end of primary education.
  • provide a greater emphasis on personal development through a more integrated and simpler framework for schools.
  • build stronger links between the EYFS and Key Stage 1, and between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.
  • offer exciting opportunities for learning languages for 7–11-yearolds.

    What is set out in the draft programmes of learning represents a national entitlement with full scope for teachers to shape how it is taught and to supplement it.

Subjects and cross curricular learning

There are times when it is right to marshal content from different subjects into well-planned, cross-curricular studies. This is not only because it helps children to better understand ideas about such important matters as citizenship, sustainable development, financial capability and health and wellbeing, but also because it provides opportunities across the curriculum for them to use and apply what they have learned from the discrete teaching of subjects.

Six areas of learning

  • Understanding English, communication and languages
  • Mathematical understanding
  • Scientific and technological understanding
  • Historical, geographical and social understanding
  • Understanding physical development, health and wellbeing
  • Understanding the arts.


Children thrive best when parenting, the curriculum and pedagogy are all of high quality. In other words, children benefit most when their home lives and school lives establish similar values and expectations for their learning, behaviour and wellbeing. Much has been achieved in recent years to ensure that parents are fully informed about and seriously involved in many aspects of school life.


Recommendation 13

(i) The QCA, in consultation with representative groups, should exemplify and promote the range of learning envisioned in the new framework for personal development with the firm intention of helping schools to plan for balanced coverage and avoid piecemeal treatment of this central aspect of the curriculum.

(ii) Personal development together with literacy, numeracy and ICT constitute the essentials for learning and life. The DCSF should work with the QCA to find appropriate and innovative ways of assessing pupils’ progress in this area.

Recommendation 19

With their local authorities, primary and secondary schools should agree a joint policy for bridging children’s transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Five interdependent transition bridges are suggested for this purpose: administrative; social and personal; curriculum; pedagogy; and autonomy and managing learning. This should involve extended studies across Year 6 and Year 7, and draw upon the support of personal tutors.

Filed under: education

Pupil Behaviour

The behaviour of young people in school has a high profile following the NASUWT conference and Sir Alan Steer’s latest report.

Writing in The Telegraph Francis Gilbert argues:

Behind the unpleasant headlines, most experienced teachers know that social deprivation plays a massive role in misbehaviour. Poor children are three times more likely to be excluded from school, while only a tiny fraction of children in care leave with any qualifications.

Take Leon, a boy whom I taught for several years. His mother was a crack addict, who severely neglected him. Permanently angry, he hated lessons and did nothing but get into fights, swearing regularly at staff and dealing drugs in and out of school… He was fined for truancy, but his zonked-out mother ignored the invoices.

He goes on to say that personalised early intervention is most likely to be effective in nipping poor behaviour in the bud.

Sir Alan Steer is quoted on the BBC where he argues that a focus on bad behaviour isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal of what is going on in school, and the language isn’t helpful:

“The word ‘feral’ is a disgusting word to use about children. Let’s be accurate, a large majority are well behaved.”

His report makes the following points that may be of interest to readers of this blog:

Schools have a broader range of powers than ever before to prevent and tackle poor behaviour. Government and the professional associations should work together to devise a dissemination plan to raise awareness and understanding of this range of powers among schools, parents, pupils and teachers, including in particular the statutory power to discipline.

Operation of the new legal power to search pupils not only for weapons but also for alcohol, controlled drugs and stolen property should be reviewed within three years of the power coming into force in order to assess its use and to evaluate if it is properly understood in schools. Schools and partnerships of schools should use Safer School Partnership officers to help them ensure that this power is exercised.

The report reminds us that these powers are being legislated for at the moment:

Extension of schools’ power to search to cover alcohol, drugs and stolen property is included in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill currently going through Parliament. New guidance, to be issued following Royal Assent, will include advice on training standards.

These powers are expected to be implemented in September 2010.

Filed under: education

Personally, I blame the parents

Cassandra Jardine uses her Telegraph column to look at the arguments being put by teaching unions that parents are too ready to blame teachers for the failings of their children. She starts:

Your 14-year-old is pregnant? Blame lack of sex education. Your 16-year-old is smoking dope? The school has failed to put across an anti-drugs message. Difficulty reading? Playground squabble? Again, blame the teacher.

She goes on to quote Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (a Forum member) who argues:

“Teachers are being held responsible for aspects of children’s and young people’s lives which are completely beyond their control.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: education

Children, Schools and Families Committee Report on the National Curriculum

csf-committeeThere’s a fair bit of media interest in the report into the national curriculum produced by the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, largely because they make a case for slimming down the curriculum and are critical of what they see as an overly controlling centre in the form of the DCSF.

The report says:

We take the view that the main purpose of a national curriculum is to set out clearly and simply a minimum entitlement for every child. In its current form the National Curriculum essentially accounts for all the available teaching time. We would like to see this changed and a cap placed on the proportion of the curriculum that is prescribed centrally.

They argue that if Academies are only required to follow the National Curriculum for the subjects of English, mathematics, science and ICT that should be the case for all schools.

While there’s barely a mention of drug education or PSHE more broadly in the report, when we turn to the evidence the committee heard it’s clear that PSHE as a subject and the decision to make PSHE statutory was on the MPs minds.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: education, Parliament

Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary shake-up

The Guardian have seen something about the Rose review of the primary curriculum, which leads them to the conclusion that pupils will be learning about Twitter and blogs.

I’ve been at briefings about the review from those developing the report and it is clear that ICT is going to play a significant role in what primary school children will be expected to learn about if Sir Jim’s review is accepted by Ministers.

Including something about staying safe on social networking sites in the curriculum would seem to make a lot of sense to me.

We’ve seen a number of times over the last few years that newspapers have found what young people post on social networking sites very tempting particularly when it comes to stories about their use of alcohol.  Most recently the Scottish edition of the Sunday Express has used what young people from the town of Dunblane have put on their Facebook accounts as material for a front page story.  Public reaction in that case has been overwhelmingly negative, and the paper issued an apology.

Whether that signals a change in attitude towards what newspapers believe is acceptable in trawling social networking sites remains to be seen.

Clearly for primary school aged children they are unlikely to be the subject of this sort of story, but helping them to understand the power of these sites and how that power can be misused could be very valuable.

Filed under: education

82% of parents left ‘in the dark’ when it comes to their child’s schooling

oh-nothing-muchGiven the increasing (and welcome) emphasis there has been on involving and empowering parents in delivering drug education  I thought there might be an interest in a new report, Oh, Nothing Much, from Becta about engaging parents in education.

They suggest that parents are somewhat frustrated by communication about what happens in schools at the moment.

The press release says:

The survey of 1,000 children aged between seven and 14 years and 1,000 parents, reveals that 43% of parents admit they find it either difficult or very difficult to extract information from their child about their day at school.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: education, parents, ,

Primary Curriculum Review

I was invited to attend a seminar at the QCA about their thinking on the review of the primary curriculum that is being led by Sir Jim Rose.

Here’s a short film about the review:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: education

Primary Review – Interim Report

primary-reviewI’m afraid I haven’t had enough time to devote to the recent publication of the interim report from The Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum.  This post hopes to remedy this at least in part.

As has been widely reported the report is suggesting trying to develop a more systemic approach to cross curricular learning:

While the current framework should not prevent schools from developing a curriculum that makes the best both of subject studies and cross -curricular studies, this is not achieved often enough. Though by no means a universal response, many primary teachers report that they fi nd it well nigh impossible to concentrate thoroughly on literacy and numeracy and deliver all ten statutory subjects of the National Curriculum, plus religious education (RE) and the joint non-statutory, but soon to become statutory, framework for PSHE and citizenship.

These difficulties are noted in Ofsted’s annual reports which repeatedly tell us that teaching, learning and assessment in the foundation subjects are weaker and lag behind standards in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. This is largely because many teachers struggle to cover the full curriculum. The Review is therefore working to propose a framework which will enable schools and teachers to overcome these difficulties.

They’re helpfully provided a pictoral overview of the framework they’re proposing and as you’ll see personal development and physical health and well-being are crucial parts of the curriculum that is being suggested.


In terms of drugs the report has this to say:

Possibly more than any other aspect of the remit, personal development has been subject to piecemeal treatment. This is borne of disparate elements being added to it as deep societal concerns about such critical matters as drug abuse, obesity, sex and relationships, violent behaviour, ‘e-safety’, financial capability and so forth, press for an educational response in primary schools with children at an ever earlier age. Sadly, society at large, which looks to schools to address these concerns, does not always live up to and exemplify the standards of behaviour that it expects of its children.

They acknowledge the popularity and limitations of SEAL and suggest they’ll look at whether it needs to be extended or modified in their final report.

This interim report goes on to make a two part recommendation which they hope will strengthen the provision for personal development:

(i) Build a framework, based on the successful SEAL programme, for the personal skills and attitudes that all children should develop throughout their schooling. The framework should exemplify how these skills and attitudes can be fostered across the curriculum.

(ii) Set out the essential knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes for personal, social and health education (PSHE) alongside physical education (PE) in an area of learning, provisionally entitled ‘Understanding physical health and well-being’.

The DCSF point out that:

Sir Jim Rose welcomes contributions and comments on the interim report from everyone with an interest in primary education. If you wish to contribute, please use the contact details below to share your views on the interim report by 28 February 2009.

The DCSF YouTube channel has a number of videos of headteachers reacting to the report, perhaps unsurprisingly they’re broadly welcoming.  Here’s an example:

You can download this post as a 2 page breifing –Primary Review Briefing [pdf]

Filed under: education, Government

Schools fail to get parents involved

Children & Young People Now:

Schools are failing to help parents get involved in their child’s education, according to a General Teaching Council (GTC) report.

The report, Engaging Parents in their Children’s Learning, found many parents felt distant from their child’s school life, particularly at secondary school level.

Many schools fail to pass on basic information about the curriculum or offer support to improve parents’ academic skills, the research found.

The report can be downloaded here. You’ll remember that the Blueprint research found similar challenges which is why I link to the story.

The researchers say that:

  • Parents thought that it was important to be involved in their children’s learning.
  • They were mixed in their opinions about how much they wanted to be involved apart from generally helping with homework and attending the formal parent-teacher consultations provided by the school.
  • Once parents had understood the concept of ‘engagement’ in their child’s learning they thought it would be generally very positive for their child. It was thought likely to have a positive impact on achievement; increase confidence, motivation and enthusiasm for learning; and broaden their horizons and encourage them to be more responsive to, and accepting of, ideas from other people.
  • Parents also thought that by engaging with their child’s learning they gained a better understanding of their child’s abilities and interests; understood their child’s weaknesses; gained an insight into any other issues that may be occurring in their child’s life; and would be better able to tailor social activities to their child’s interests. It also reinforced the value of learning, for both the child and parent alike.

They say they found that not all parents wanted to be involved in their children’s learning, but:

Parents often expressed a desire to know more about the curriculum that their child was following, or the teaching methods that were being used. This was particularly so for maths and science, for which teaching methods were thought to have changed considerably since they were at school. However, very few parents had been offered this opportunity by schools.

Where parents do want to be involved by schools they suggested the following:

  • information about their child’s progress;
  • information about parenting; and
  • information about dealing with bullying.

Filed under: education, parents

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 2021