The school’s role in prevention is much broader than alcohol and drug education lessons. Research tells us that the links between educational detachment and the use of alcohol and drugs at an early age are very clear: a young person’s attachment to school is a powerful protective factor which makes them resilient against substance misuse. This is strengthened by a positive and supportive school ethos, as well as quality PSHE education.
Practitioners working in alcohol and drug education and prevention can benefit from the evidence base we have built as well as the free resources available from ADEPIS.
Good alcohol and drug education
Mentor believes all children and young people have the right to quality alcohol and drug education as part of their PSHE education.
Good alcohol and drug education is much more than just giving young people factual information. Although that will certainly increase young people’s knowledge and understanding of alcohol and drugs, we know that information alone does very little to change behaviour.
To have an impact, alcohol and drug education must:
- enable young people to think about their personal attitudes and values which will underline their decisions about drug use.
- develop young people’s skills to manage the sort of situations they will face (for example making decisions, negotiating and communicating effectively) and to cope with stress or anxiety without resorting to alcohol or drugs.
- challenge young people’s misconceptions of how normal and acceptable substance use is among their peers and among older teenagers
We know that this works because specific programmes that work in this way have been evaluated in randomised controlled trials and found to be effective at reducing use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs among young people.
The Mentor Quality Mark for Alcohol and Drug Education
Mentor has launched their Quality Mark for Alcohol and Drugs Education, a set of developmental tools for schools and practitioners which aim improve the quality of alcohol and drug education and prevention in England.
This online tool provides access to two different self-assessment frameworks: one for schoolsand a second for practitioners.
Quality standards for drug education
These quality standards were developed through Mentor-ADEPIS (see more below) using existing national and international guidance as well as examples of good practice in alcohol and drug education and prevention.
The aims of the quality standards are:
- to help schools and others assess their own practice, in and outside the classroom, and make the case for appropriate support and resources;
- to help external providers of drug education assess their own practice and convey their aims, methodology, and approach to schools;
- to help schools have clearer expectations of external contributors, choose those that deliver to a high standard, and work more effectively with them.