Schools have an important role to play in providing high quality alcohol and drug education as part of a statutory health curriculum. Schools are central to the life of most children in the UK and they have a significant impact on how children think about themselves and the future. Learning about health and wellbeing is a big part of this because the more that young people know how to take care of themselves and others, the more likely they are to thrive. We simply cannot afford for young people to miss out on the benefits that great Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) can bring.
Along with parents and carers, teachers are often the adults that young people spend the most time with. They develop highly trusting relationships and it is this trust that puts them in a good position to foster the open, honest conversations we know can have an impact with young people when it comes to alcohol and other drugs. But teachers are human. Many of them are struggling with high workloads, significant pressure and a creeping ‘social-work’ role. Effective drug education will only happen in schools if teachers have the training, resources and time to build their own confidence and skills as well as those of their students.
This is where Mentor UK comes in. We provide the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Service (ADEPIS), a platform for sharing information and resources on alcohol and drug education. In addition to the information and resources already available on the site, we are developing and updating our evidence base to provide teachers with what we know they need to really implement excellent drug education in their schools.
Our approach to prevention in schools is not limited to the classroom. A young person’s attachment to school is a powerful protective factor which helps build resilience. This is strengthened by a positive school ethos and a whole-school approach to alcohol and drug prevention. For this reason, we also work with schools to ensure they have up-to-date and inclusive drug policies that place the wellbeing of young people at their heart and are designed in consultation with parents, carers and community services.