Editor's comment

2nd March 2007 at 00:00
One of the startling discoveries, reading today's report on drugs education, is how many of the observations could be written about almost any topic. How many times have we heard that progression goes out of the window when primary pupils move to secondary, that there is needless repetition in lessons, that teachers lack sufficient knowledge or confidence, that the pace and appropriateness of teaching is not good enough, and that relationships with pupils is the key to teachers'

credibility? It is not an HMIE report, but it often reads like one.

This, however, is very much a report about drugs education, and the response by Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, conveys a discernible hardening of attitude. Teaching, he believes, can no longer be merely "informative", drugs education has to spell out more clearly the risks involved in substance abuse, the links between smoking and drinking and illegal drugs must be better understood, and key messages on changing behaviour have to be hammered home. This approach is underlined by the plans to use recovered addicts and young offenders to talk to pupils, presumably to put the fear of death into them.

This is all well and good but, if the cliche about schools not being able to do it all holds true for anything, drugs education is a case in point.

Mr Henry acknowledges this when he signals a renewed drive for education, health and crime agencies to work together.

It is pleasing to note that there are signs of joined-up activity at work here as Graeme Pearson, the head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, this week called for 11-15 year olds to be given the message that a life spent drinking and smoking is a life spent preparing to take up hard drugs. But, as he also said, the package must be one of education, protection and enforcement. Schools would say amen to that.

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