Adrian King reviews resources on alcohol education
Under the Influence DVD and six exercise cards suitable for key stages 34 pound;25 + VAT
Red Rose Chain, 1 Fore Hamlet, Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 8AA www.redrosechain.co.uk
Boozeville CD-Rom (PC only) User manual and printable exercises for ages 10-14 and above pound;65 +VAT Educari, Manor Farm, Kettlestone, Norfolk NR21 0AU
Drunk in Charge of a Body ll Pack of ready-made lessons with handouts for KS 3 and 4 pound;25 Brook, 421 Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL www.brook.org.uk
Supply and Demand Double DVD and resource pack Age 13+ pound;125
The Wright Stuff Theatre of Puppets, PO Box 571, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD8 0FW www.thewrightstuff.co.uk
2bkoolbdrinkwise2 By Nick Chapman CD-Rom (PC only)
Professionals, adults and young people, pound;34.95 Villa Publishing, Linden House Uxbridge Road UB2 4XB www.2bkoolbdrinkwise2.com
Four of these five resources focus on alcohol, reflecting current concern about young people's drinking in the light of changes to licensing arrangements.
Under the Influence is a refreshingly direct brewery-funded film made by members of a Suffolk youth group, working with a professional filmmaker. It follows 17-year-old Ben, who comes from a fractured family. He is drinking heavily, but starting to face his responsibility for himself and his family. The scenes could be used to start constructive discussions in school or youth groups - considering relationships, the responsibilities of publicans, denial, and sources of help - and the story points obliquely to the value of exploring links between drinking and sex. The cards suggest activities to involve young people in discussion and exploration of the characters and the options that face them. With a skilled facilitator, and attention paid to the need to develop ground rules to outlaw inappropriate disclosures, this is an excellent stimulus to fruitful investigation of young people's drinking.
Boozeville is a CD-Rom with a series of animated interactive stories, an hour in total, which explore issues raised by alcohol and its effects by following the activities of an intrepid young reporter, Lois Team in the town of Boozeville, through a game-like interface.
The five sections of the title: the law; health; reasons and choices; problems; and safety; provide comprehensive well- presented information that can be worked through in the five storysituation sequences and related quizzes. All the dialogue is thoughtfully subtitled. The mysteries and puzzles in the storylines are imaginative and the facility for teachers to access and compare individual progress records for their students, and to transfer these to other machines, is well crafted and useful.
One possible weakness in this otherwise excellent resource is that its similarity to a computer game may make it seem slow to those used to the cut-and-thrust of action games. The amount of careful reading required to prepare the user for the quizzes may not easily maintain the concentration without careful overseeing by a teacher or youth worker. Young people who stick at it will be well rewarded by their enlarged stock of alcohol facts and their understanding of some of the realistic situations in which this knowledge might be applied. A pity the CD-Rom is not multi-platform, Mac-equipped schools will find it very slow.
Drunk in Charge of a Body II is a 236-page ring-bound resource. Replacing Brook's earlier publication, it now conforms with PSHE certification standards. It presents nine lessons (each of which lists its links to the national curriculum), a wealth of handouts, a route-map and supportive teacher guidance notes. No grab-and-teach materials these. Each lesson is clear in its content, aims and approach but needs thorough preparatory reading for familiarity, and to ensure relevance for the chosen class.
Brook's predictable concern about the relationship between drinking and inappropriate sexual behaviour has not limited the scope of the pack, which ranges across laws, units, effects on the body, attitudes, binge-drinking, choices, consequences and finding help, as well as exploring links with sexual health. Welcome attention is paid to the value of ground rules, to strategies for discovering what pupils need before planning a programme to fit, and to assessment and evaluation. An excellent addition to any PSHE resource library.
Supply and Demand is a two-DVD set and bulging resource wallet, aimed at young people over 13 and adults, targeting all drugs. DVD One contains a half-hour mock TV programme, vox-pop sessions and lively comment on the drug scene. Characters in a TV studio deliver scripted dialogue while the "programme" is interlaced with real interviews, the visuals being provided by superb puppets.
Amusing dialogue is peppered with points for discussion, while serious issues arise more obviously in the real-life interviews. A toe-curling spoof "drugs will kill you" scene was shot with real pupils. Annoyingly, the "scene selection" function only selects interviews, not the more comic "studio" footage. However, issues raised (cost, dangers, myths, "hard"
versus "soft", political responses and so on) beg for audience intervention.
Niggles are that serious points may be hard to pick out from the larger-than-life delivery of the puppets, and the mildly smutty language may be too much for some, though youth workers are less likely to baulk.
DVD Two, "a training resource for drug educators", contains reference material, a series of real-life interviews and harm reduction footage, though the drug data and harm reduction advice are both somewhat inadequate. The resource wallet materials, including six detailed Year 10 lesson plans, are flexible and informed.
2bkoolbdrinkwise2 is a CD-Rom containing a series of text files in pdf format and is similar in length and content to a book. Written by Nick Chapman who has journeyed from homelessness and inebriation to an MBE which recognises his contribution to alcohol treatment, the resource has limited value in schools.
Despite the earnest, non-patronising style, and the wealth of experience, its value is limited to individuals focusing on problem drinking. Its claim to be "the world's only comprehensive alcohol educational programme to help and advise young people" is fatuous. A zealous wish to save young people from alcoholism's cruel clutches is not sufficient to ensure accordance with the PSHE standards recommended by the DfES or the Drug Education Forum, or enshrined within Healthy School Status. Indeed, this isn't really a teaching resource at all. Like a book, it will appeal to some readers, but the classroom is not the place for it to be read.
Adrian King is a drug education consultant and member of the advisory group to the Drug Education Forum