Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Teachers are amongst the most moderate drinkers

One of the things you hear from time to time is that teachers worry about talking about alcohol in case they are challenged about their own use of alcohol.

Certainly programmes like Teachers portray going to the pub as a central part of the characters social lives. But a story in the Guardian suggests that those in education are amongst the most abstemious professions:

People working in education, transport and travel are the country’s most moderate drinkers, consuming an average of 24 units a week, although that is above the recommended limit for women and around the maximum for men.

Teachers and drivers are most likely to monitor their alcohol intake, with about half keeping track of their units, compared with under a third (29%) working in the media and IT.

Filed under: alcohol, teachers

Testing Teachers?

While the government have moved away from randomly testing pupils for illegal drug use, the public think that teachers should be added to the list of employees that are routinely tested.

A survey carried out by ICM for the Observer found that:

85 per cent now feel that police officers should undergo routine testing to see if they have been using illicit substances compared with 61 per cent six years ago, when The Observer last conducted an in-depth poll on drugs. Just 46 per cent believed teachers should face testing then; now 68 per cent do. The same trend emerged for pilots, drivers, doctors and nurses.

When Neil McKeganey called for research on drug testing on pupils and teachers in Scotland a couple of years ago the concept was condemned as “unethical” by teaching unions and education leaders and I doubt they would see things differently today.

Part of the difficulty I have with polls like this one is that people are asked to give opinions without any context.  I wonder whether the answers would change if the public were aware of the costs of undertaking testing.

You may remember that, when the DIP programme was carrying out testing of young people, the set up costs were in the range of £7,000 to £35,000, while running costs ranged from £10,000 to £44,000 and the cost per test were between £57 to £121.  I’ve no way of knowing whether these costs are a reasonable equivalent for the sort of testing that the Observer is asking about, but I’d argue that it would be critical information I’d want to consider were I a policy maker in the DCSF.

As far as I can assertain there were 441,200 full time equivalent regular teachers in maintained schools in England in January 2008, and 25,000 schools.

All of which is before we get the tricky question of whether testing is an effective way of reducing the problems that drugs cause.

Filed under: random drug testing, teachers

Teachers TV Drugs and Alcohol Week19 – 25 May

Teachers TV have been in touch to let me know about their week of programmes exploring how schools can tackle the issues surrounding the use of illegal drugs and alcohol amongst young people.

Highlights across the week include:

KS1/2 PSHE – Drugs Education

Find out how two primary schools teach the facts about drugs and help equip their students with the life skills to make informed choices about drugs in the future.


KS3/4 PSHE – Tackling Drugs

Investigate how a Year 8 PSHE lesson can give young people the knowledge and skills to enable them to stay safe in a drug using world.


Dealing with Drugs – Damage Limitation

A realistic insight into the day-to-day lives of intravenous heroin addicts; the associated risks, and the impact on individuals, families and communities.


KS3/4 PSHE – Alcohol Stories

Meet four young people, each of them with a story to tell about their personal experience of alcohol and how it can change your life.


Booze – The Young Person’s Guide

A candid view of the highs and lows of drinking by following six different stories on a regular Saturday night. These drinking stories show the different attitudes that exist towards alcohol among many young British people today.


Drugs and the Brain

This five-part series shows how drugs and alcohol can affect the brain in different ways. Using the latest research and computer graphics we analyse the effects of stimulants, painkillers, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and hallucinogens.


These programmes and more are available to watch and download online for free. For more information and supporting resources visit: www.teachers.tv/pshe

Filed under: drug education, teachers,

The Primary Review

Connor Ryan – who used to be a political advisor on education issues to Tony Blair and David Blunkett – lets us know that there’s more to the Primary Review than we heard on the radio this morning. 

I’m afraid I’ve not got time to read all of what the review have published today.  But a quick search did set out the key concerns that parents expressed around their children and the wider world:

Among the local problems with the greatest immediacy were:

  • road safety;
  • poor local recreational and transport services; 
  • pervasive and threatening levels of aggression among older children; 
  • drugs, knives and guns (especially at soundings in Birmingham and London);
  • other parents’ abdication of their responsibilities.

Parents felt that they had to keep their children under close supervision in order to secure their safety, yet were unhappy that this was necessary. Like the teaching assistants, they were nostalgic for the childhood freedoms they themselves had enjoyed.

Interestingly children themselves don’t talk about drugs, while they do mention most of the other local social problem behaviours identified by their parents.  On an upbeat note the report says:

Whatever is happening in the wider world, and whatever their anxieties about the future, these children spent their school days in communities-within-communities which unfailingly sought to celebrate the positive.

The report goes on to say what parents want from the primary curriculum:

Parents wanted schools to foster literacy and numeracy. They saw literacy in particular as the basis for all that follows. Yet like other groups they were worried by too narrow a focus on the basics, and the need for breadth and the pursuit of communicative and social skills.

In this they and their children seem to be as one:

‘Teach the basics’ urged one [child], ‘but not at the expense of other subjects.’

Also worthy of note is what the children identify as the qualities of a good teacher:

  • ‘are firm but fair’
  • ‘are trustworthy’ 
  • ‘are available when you need them’ 
  • ‘are understanding – we can talk to them about personal matters’ 
  • ‘understand how you feel, but don’t intrude’ 
  • ‘understand our difficulties in learning’ 
  • ‘give encouragement’ 
  • ‘listen to all of us – don’t just choose the same children.’ and 
  • ‘we can ask them questions and talk to them without embarrassment.’

Finally, teachers themselves came up with an interesting list when talking about the priorities for education:

Teachers overwhelmingly emphasised the importance of generic dispositions and skills:

  • social and communicative skills; 
  • autonomous thinking, criticality and the capacity to make reasoned choices; 
  • communal and civic awareness and disposition; 
  • the development of a rounded personality; 
  • mental health, a balanced outlook on life, and strong self-belief.

I am certain that there is much more in the report and there will be even more as the review continues its work. 

Filed under: parents, teachers,

Stressed teachers ‘taking drugs’

The BBC report a survey from the NUT (a Forum member), which points out that it isn’t just pupils that have issues with drugs:

Drug addiction, eating disorders and obsessive behaviours are common among teachers, a union says.

One in three will have mental health problems at some point due to the stress of the job, the National Union of Teachers reported.

Tens of thousands suffer under the pressure of excessive work, classroom monitoring and inspections, it says.

Source: BBC NEWS | Education | Stressed teachers ‘taking drugs’

Filed under: teachers

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