Unhelpful on drugs initiative

26th May 2000 at 01:00
THE criticism in last week's TES Scotland of the Lanarkshire drug education resource What's the Score by Alistair Ramsay of Scotland Against Drugs was ill-informed, unhelpful and unprofessional. Unfortunately he appears to have misunderstood the nature of the resource and its use by teachers.

The pack was the result of two years of research and consultation among leading experts in the field and surveys of parents, teachers and pupils.

The end result is a comprehensive, flexible and progressive set of materials from P1 to S4 and beyond, covering key issues and facts commencing with safety

and health topics at the infant stage through to smoking, alcohol, solvent and drug abuse at later stages. The key is to present pupils with the facts and skills to make sensible life choices.

The range of video materials, including inputs from the education departments of Granada and Channel 4, illustrate particular points and provide a focus for classroom discussion.

Teachers have been at the

centre of the development which espouses a multi-agency app-roach to drug education and is backed up by in-service training and joint presentations to staff by senior members of Strathclyde Police Drug Squad.

There has been national and international interest in the material which have been described by various professionals as the best resource of its type currently available. I addition, the Lanarkshire Drug Action Team is committed to regular review and update of the pack over a five-year period to ensure that changing circumstances are catered for.

Mr Ramsay's comments regarding the role of schools in the delivery of drug education are somewhat contradictory to say the least. Drug education is clearly part of a health agenda in schools within the context of personal and social education and permeating elements of certain other subjects.

Ministers and officers of the Scottish Executive have provided positive support, advice and opportunities for debate. Mr Ramsay should perhaps consider his position in facilitating such activities rather than sniping at the efforts of others.

I'm also surprised that he views diversionary activities such as school sport as irrelevant when the Scottish Executive's new action plan Protecting our Future emphasises the importance of such activities.

No one presently has the answer to the drug problem. But the efforts of those involved in trying to work constructively to support young people deserve better than the piecemeal comments emanating from Scotland Against Drugs whose own performance in recent years could well be questioned in terms of best value to the taxpaying public.

Michael O'Neill

Director of Education,

North Lanarkshire

Chair of Lanarkshire Drug Action Team sub-group

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