7th January 2000 at 00:00
DRUGS FROM THE INSIDE. Video and resource pack. Trading Faces pound;27

It would be easy to dismiss this resource as unsuitable for mainstream drug education in schools because the 12-minute video (created and performed by inmates from HMP Bullingdon, making clever use of masks) apparently addresses itself to the small proportion of users who find the drug slope slippery. Such dismissal would be unfair.

The booklet is thoughtful, well-informed and imaginative in its exercises, building on the creative work of a theatre company, Trading Faces, with a group of young prison inmates. Interactive teaching methods are carefully described, including drama and forum theatre techniques.

The resource recognises the need to take a more sophisticated and relevant approach to drug education than mere prohibition, and explores risk, self-esteem and assertiveness alongside positive and negative effects o drug use. It considers peer pressure in a way that gives it greater significance than it has in the lives of most young people, and presents it as more commonplace than it appears to be.

The requirements and national guidance for curriculum content have progressed since the booklet's publication, but the ideas for exploring a complex issue in ways that take account of the views, feelings and experiences of young people make this a resource to be considered.

The video is well produced and the feelings of the inmates are real and well expressed. But because of its thrust, I would show it only to already well-informed pupils, rather than as the first step the manual suggests, and I would encourage pupils to look carefully at ways in which they are like and unlike the characters depicted.

Trading Faces, 2 Bridge View, Bridge Street, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3HN. Tel: 01235 550829

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