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Leave drugs education to the experts

Occasionally, conclusions made by Estyn inspection teams appear wide of the mark. Its report on substance misuse guidance is one such example.

It seems to suggest that a hands-off approach by teachers and outdated Assembly guidance is in some way to blame for not getting the anti-binge-drinking and drug-abuse message across to our young people. But surely a revised piece of paper - and all the input in the world from teachers - is never going to stop this scourge of modern society alone?

Guidance must begin at home, given by parents who believe drug and alcohol abuse is wrong. Sadly, many don't. Modern pressures on young people must also be alleviated, and the wide availability of alcohol and drugs controlled better. Only this week it was reported that most of the cannabis available in Wales is practically home-grown - and so potent it's now called "super skunk".

What does Estyn's verdict also say for the highly acclaimed All Wales Police Liaison Programme? The Assembly government has pledged to pump money into one of its most important documents for the future, Learning Country: Vision into Action.

The programme now operates in 97 per cent of Wales's primary and secondary schools. Teachers contacted by TES Cymru love it as it takes some of the most serious social issues out of their hands and puts them into those of trained police officers who, after all, have spent their careers tackling anti-social behaviour.

Of course, we must all take a share of responsibility for society's ills.

It is also right that all schools and local authorities should have substance misuse policies in place and record drug and alcohol-related problems. But it is worrying if, as Estyn says, we have to go back to getting teachers to get the message across again. Are we getting it all wrong then?

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