Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Can you measure happiness in schools?

Cassandra Jardine attacks the well-being agenda for schools and PSHE in particular in the Telegraph:

And yet more hours will be given over to vague lessons of doubtful benefit when PHSE – personal, health and social education – is already creating yawning holes (and I mean yawning) in timetables. Those holes that would be better filled with science, art, music, maths and modern languages.

She goes on:

And yet there is hypocrisy in my position. Whenever I have looked around a school for one of my five children I have always tried to gauge the happiness of the pupils using measures rather more subjective than those the Government has picked.

Now read on.

Filed under: PSHE, Well-being

The role of schools

Carol Craig, the head of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being, expands on her argument that the way we approach well-being in schools is adding to the trends which mean we’re raising a generation of narcissists:

What I’m really concerned about is the next great psychological idea in the offing – SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning). This is about emotional literacy and increasingly about happiness lessons. One of the strands of primary SEAL is even called ‘all about me’.

I’ve written two big papers outlining the shaky evidence base to much of this change and sounded various warnings which you can read. All I want to say here is that all this emphasis on feelings is, I believe, going to reinforce – not counteract – the narcissism of the age and is likely to undermine resilience further.

Go read the whole thing.

Filed under: SEAL, Well-being

Forget Sats: lesson one is a basic emotional education

The Guardian carries a piece about the need to think about the well-being of pupils as part of their education:

Too many children live with a dysfunctionality that goes back generations. They might be living with poverty, unemployment, violence, drug use, acute emotional problems, varying degrees of neglect and abuse. Their problems are manifested through violent and inappropriate behaviour.

At school, these children aren’t mentally or emotionally ready for the academic learning designed for others. The curriculum races ahead of them, while their life sentence of labels begins. They are difficult, troublemakers, a problem. Then they’re excluded, hoodies, yobs. There’s an inevitability about the next label: criminal. However long their sentence, once they’ve got that label, the prejudices of others ensure they’re really lifers by instalment. And maybe they’ll add another label too: addict.

Filed under: Well-being

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,

Knight considers change in well-being measurement

Children & Young People Now:

Speaking at a Labour Party conference event, hosted by teachers’ union NASUWT and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the minister [Jim Knight] said he would evaluate the option [well-being through self-evaluation] in comparison with score-based approaches. He also admitted the government would be “foolish” to give schools too much responsibility for well-being.

As I’m sure you know the consultation on the indicators and how they’ll be introduced to schools closes this week.

Update – I’ve been reminded that the consultation that ended the other day isn’t about what the indicators will be – that’s still to come and I’ll be looking out for that.  Rather it was about the contribution of schools to those indicators, whatever they’ll be.

Filed under: Well-being

Government Children’s Plan encourages teachers to take on parenting duties

The General Secretary of one of our member organisations, Voice, has been speaking about the government’s wellbeing agenda for schools. The Guardian report Mr Parkin saying:

“The transfer of responsibility becomes complete and the expectations upon parents reduce,” he said.

“Is government going to measure the performance of parents and publish local league tables to show how they are doing? Are they going to be held accountable for the kind of people their children grow into? Of course not – but schools are. If schools are going to work in partnership with parents then there must be a balance to that partnership.”

As we’ve seen in the Youth Alcohol Action Plan, and I’m sure in the Youth Crime Action Plan (though I’ve not read that yet), there is now quite a lot of focus on early interventions with families where drugs and alcohol are causing problems. Whether those will bring the balance that Mr Parkin talks about remains to be seen.

The consultation on the guidance remains open until 25th September.

Filed under: Well-being

Learning for Well-being

Learning for Well-being

Learning for Well-being

Young NCB have been thinking about Well-being and PSHE.  They’ve produced this poster, and are asking for young people’s views on their Your Shout web page:

How can we get the most out of Personal, Social and Health Education?

At the moment it is not compulsory to teach PSHE in schools. In those schools that do teach it, some do it very well and some struggle.

Do you have PSHE lessons? What do you think of them? How do you think they could be improved?

The poster says that young people would like to learn about:

why people misuse drugs and alcohol and what can, and does happen to them.

Filed under: Drug Education Forum Members, PSHE, Well-being,

Schools’ Role in Promoting Pupil Well-being – Draft Guidance for Consultation

The DCSF are consulting on the guidance they are going to issue to schools following the introduction of a statutory duty on schools and governors to promote the well-being of their pupils in the 2006 Education and Inspections Act.

The department’s press notice says:

For schools to have a say in the well-being of children and young people in their local area they need a seat at the table, which is why the Government is today publishing a consultation on possible legislative options which would give a framework to support the partnership working and role of schools in driving up standards and supporting and developing children.

The Department for Children Schools and Families is also publishing draft guidance on the role of schools in promoting pupil well-being and proposals for revisions to legislation for schools causing concern.

Responses need to be with the department by 25th September, and the final guidance will come out next year.

The draft guidance argues that pupil’s well-being has been at the centre of schools role for a long period of time and that the new duty is confirming existing practice rather than a new burden on schools.

The guidance explains that well-being is defined in law in terms of the five Every Child Matters (ECM) outcomes: be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution; and achieve economic well-being. Schools are already inspected against these by Ofsted. In promoting well-being schools must have regard to the Children and
Young People’s Plan for their area and to the views of parents.

In terms of our particular issues the single specific mention of drug and alcohol issues comes in the section on how schools should plan and review their contribution to well-being, where the guidance suggests as part of a self-evaluation process:

As well as assessing evidence about children’s well-being in the school context, schools should also consider, in consultation with the local authority and other local services:

  • Evidence about the well-being of young people in the local area. Are there problems for example with young people and gang activity, or alcohol or drugs which the school should be working with others to tackle? Are there specific issues with local levels of obesity, teenage pregnancy or sexual health? Is the well-being of pupils being adversely affected by a high level of family breakdown in the local community? Does the school work with the police in a Safer School Partnership and with local agencies to maintain pupils’ safety and well-being in the local community? What can the school do working with others to help to mitigate the impact of these issues on their pupils’ well-being?
  • Do some sections of the local community have negative perceptions of the behaviour of young people and could the school do more to build links between its pupils and the community for example through volunteering activities?

  • How generally can the school contribute, working with other services, to tackling particular issues affecting the well-being of children and families in the local area? On what issues should the school lead? On other issues can the school reasonably support other services and if so how?

Filed under: Well-being

Wellbeing Indicators get mixed press

Now ‘nanny’ Balls is trying to turn our teachers into parents | Mail Online

Schools are to be judged on how they improve children’s ‘wellbeing’ by tackling obesity, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy.

Teachers will be expected to monitor and record up to 31 detailed aspects of their pupils’ lives at home and at school.

Headteachers criticised the new guidance, saying that schools cannot be held responsible for the ‘ills of all society’.

Schools to play central role in promoting wellbeing | News crumb | EducationGuardian.co.uk

Draft guidance on the role of schools in promoting pupils’ wellbeing, and proposals for revisions to legislation for schools causing concern, were also published today.

Balls said: “Every headteacher I meet wants the very best for the pupils at their school, but they all tell me they can’t do it alone.

“They know parents are the most important influence on their children and that, if they want to raise standards for all their pupils, then they have to tackle barriers to learning that lie well beyond the school gates.

“By extending the so-called duty to cooperate to all schools, we can ensure headteachers get the package of measures they need to make sure that all children fulfil their potential.”

Leave parenting to the parents, Mr Balls| News | This is London

Is there a more egregious example of a nanny state that is out of control than Children’s Secretary Ed Balls forcing teachers to keep tabs on whether their pupils are getting fat?

It is one of up to 31 indicators which schools will be asked to measure in order to gauge a child’s ‘well-being’.

They also include checking for drug abuse, use of contraception, teenage pregnancy and signs of bullying. In short, teachers will have to do the job of parents.

No coasting on results, Balls tells schools – Times Online

In a separate move, Mr Balls said that schools would be made to collect and publish records of children’s lifestyles, through a new set of “wellbeing indicators”, likely to include healthy eating, participation in sport and attendance.

He suggested that it would be helpful for schools to know teenage pregnancy
rates among pupils, but an official later said it was unlikely that schools
would have to record behaviour over which they had limited control, such as
drug use, obesity, teenage conception and mental ill-health.

Filed under: Well-being

Playing consequences in the sitting room

The Guardian has a piece about work being done with young people at risk of exclusion in Wigan:

“They also need time spent on them,” says headteacher Dr Ted Walker. “They’re suffering from inadequate parenting in our most extreme cases. The parents might have mental-health problems, or be drug users – both in some cases. What’s remarkable is how quickly their kids can change with some care and attention. They don’t come back into school perfect, but there are little acts of transformation going on.”

The piece, it seems to me, describes very well the sort of contribution that schools and children’s services can make to the wellbeing agenda that was discussed at length last week.

Filed under: Well-being

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