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The impact of ”Drugs: Guidance for Schools”

The impact of ”Drugs: Guidance for Schools”

Drug Education Forum Report Indicates More Work Needed To Support Drugs Education In Schools

Is That Legal.pdf

In February 2004 the DfES published Drugs: Guidance for Schools, the Government?s new guide for schools on how to develop and implement drug policies encompassing prevention and education, how to avoid drug-related incidents and how to deal with them, should they occur.

The Drug Education Forum has undertaken a short study in London to find out from teachers, governors and pupils what difference the new guidance has made.

The Drug Education Forum?s interviews suggest that often the messages in the guidance need to be communicated more widely throughout the school. Pupils and governors are often unaware of their school?s drug policy ? although Ofsted report that the vast majority of schools do have drug policies in place.

During September and October teachers, a number of governors and pupils from state schools in London were interviewed. Interviewers were told that, where the government guidance was remembered at all it, was for the publicity surrounding its launch and the suggestion of using random drug testing in schools.

In summary, from the Drug Education Forum?s survey:

  • School governors are often unaware about the drugs policies in place in their schools

  • Teachers complain of inappropriate and out of date teaching materials

  • Pupils criticise the over-emphasis on illegal drugs, rather than information on alcohol and tobacco that they encounter on a daily basis
  • School drugs policies tend to remain the domain of senior staff with little input from teachers, governors, parents or pupils.

However, on a more positive note, researchers found that:

  • Where a school drug policy has been developed with full involvement of staff, governors, parents and pupils, there is a reduction in numbers of drug-related incidents

  • Contrary to much media and political pressure, all schools surveyed feel able to manage drug incidents in schools without resorting to random drug testing

Eric Carlin, Chair of the Drug Education Forum comments:

?The Drug Education Forum contributed to and welcomed Drugs: Guidance for Schools. We continue to hope that it will make a real difference to how young people learn about the risks related to misuse of drug and alcohol and how to avoid these, as well as how teachers, governors, parents and young people themselves can get help if they need it. As well as supporting the DfES?s continuing efforts to communicate this useful guidance, we would encourage all schools to implement drug policies with full involvement of teachers, governors, parents and pupils. We also urge media representatives, policy makers and politicians to refer to the guidance before making comment on how we can best support schools in dealing with drug-related issues.?


The focus groups were carried out in 2 London boroughs by Outcome Consultancy on behalf of the Drug Education Forum between September and November 2004. We spoke to governors from 15 schools, to 17 teachers and other staff, from 2 schools, and to 25 pupils from the same schools.

The DfES?s Drugs: Guidance for Schools can be downloaded from here .