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.