Suitable material about drugs does exist

27th July 2007 at 01:00
It was somewhat ironic to read in last week's TESS that Graeme Pearson, the respected director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, found it necessary for his agency to fill the drug education gap through Choices for Life.

Scotland led the UK in the field of drug education in schools during the 1980s and 1990s with Drugwise 12-14, Drugwise First, Drugwise Too and Drugwise Drug Free.

To place them in the curriculum, the backdrop of S.H.A.P.E. Health Education Framework, and later H.E.L.P., was developed. This provided materials for teachers and the curricular context into which they fitted. Educationally sound approaches were enabling teachers to lead drug education in the context of an acceptable health education curriculum which covered the ages 5-18.

Sadly, since 1994, there have been no centrally-produced materials which give teachers a steer in the direction of government policy on drugs, or what constitutes sound practice in drug education. Even in August 1999, when the Scottish Parliament declared its intention to adopt the Scottish Drug Strategy launched in March of that year, it did not secure the place of drug education in the strategy in the long term.

In the 1980-90s, I led the teams which developed the aforementioned educational materials. When I was appointed director of Scotland Against Drugs, I gave teacher training high priority. However, its weakness lay in the lack of a suitable, up-to-date, centrally-produced, well-researched and universally-agreed set of materials.

SAD closed in March 2006 and I set up Drugwise Ltd. I wrote an educational programme to promote healthy lifestyles for the early years, High 5 Lifestyle . These materials for the early years, primary and secondary use an educational approach geared to the needs of each group, are in line with the health and well-being part of the curriculum, and contain a section on substance misuse. High 5 Lifestyle does everything Mr Pearson wants.

Alistair Ramsay

chairman, Drugwise Limited

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