As part of the DfE funded ADEPIS project, the PSHE Association was asked by national charity Mentor to carry out a mapping exercise with teachers about the state of drug and alcohol education in English schools. The survey of 288 teachers (over half of whom were paid members of the Association) showed that there are many current examples of good practice within schools and this provides a solid base upon which to build. However, mirroring the recent Ofsted report on PSHE Education, the ADEPIS survey found that overall drug and alcohol education provision across England remains inconsistent in quality and application.
Pupils generally receive between 1-2 hours of drug education or less per year and a lack of curriculum time was noted by interviewees as a key constraint on effective provision. In addition, drug and alcohol education, and PSHE more generally, were identified as often being delivered by non-specialist teachers resulting in varying levels of confidence and expertise.
Furthermore, practices of assessment and evaluation, continuity in learning, and quality assurance of resources and external agencies require greater clarity and consistency in application. More than half of those schools responding to the survey did not draw upon assessment of pupils’ learning in planning drug and alcohol education. Similarly, only 44% of secondary and 33% of primary respondents indicated that they would appreciate resources to help assess pupils’ needs.
While a majority of all respondents (81%) wanted more classroom resources, primary school teachers had less access to effective basic resources and support. Primary interviewees were also more likely to require assistance in relation to interacting with parents around drug and alcohol education, although this remains a concern across all settings. For secondary school teachers keeping up to date on trends and policy is a key concern.
It is clear that teachers are interested in accessing further support to help to develop drug and alcohol education provision, with 56% of respondents requesting best practice guidance and 52% asking for case studies of best practice. Local Authorities, the Frank Website and the PSHE Association (bearing in mind the significant number of member respondents) remained key sources of support for teachers providing drug and alcohol education.
In response to this survey the ADEPIS service has launched a consultation on standards for drug and alcohol education, and those who support schools in that task. The intention is to provide practical tools for schools and others to assess their drug and alcohol education and prevention, and help them plan ways to further protect pupils from associated harms. The consultation will run until the end of November and you can find more details of both the report and standards on the ADEPIS website.
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