New guidance for schools on dangers of drugs and alcohol

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All schools should have clear plans for dealing with incidents involving drugs and alcohol on the school premises, says a new government consultation.

The guidance gives schools a central role in tackling drug misuse and supporting young people and calls on schools to educate pupils about all kinds of drugs; including medicines, tobacco and alcohol as well as classified illegal drugs.

Schools Minister Diana Johnson said: “Drug and alcohol education is vital, and we know that the majority of schools are doing a great job in talking to pupils about the dangers of illegal drugs. This has contributed to the steady decline in young people’s drug use since 2001. This new guidance offers more advice on alcohol, because while the proportion of teenagers who drink regularly is falling, those who do drink are drinking more. Tackling drug and alcohol misuse in schools is therefore crucial."

She went on to say: “All school-aged children need good drugs education, and that means drugs education appropriate to their age and maturity. So, for example, in primary school children should be learning about medicines and how they can affect the body, while in secondary school, young people should be introduced to the law relating to drugs and how substances like alcohol, tobacco and cannabis can damage their mental and physical health.”

As well as giving advice on how to handle drugs education in the classroom, the guidance stresses the importance of schools having clear policies in place to deal with incidents with illegal drugs and alcohol on school premises. Heads are also encouraged to forge stronger links with other local services to help them better identify and support over a million children and young people who live with one or both parents who have a drug or alcohol problem.

The guidance will also encourage teachers and families to work more closely together, so that clear and consistent messages are given out both at home and at school.

Stephen Burgess, Chairman of the Drug Education Forum, said: “Children want much better drug education and we must respond.

“Schools have a hugely important part to play in making sure that the information that children and young people receive about all drugs is accurate and credible. We are sure that this guidance will be welcomed by all those that work to help children and young people avoid the harms that drugs can do.

“Schools should be confident that children and young people see teachers as one of the most important sources of information about alcohol."

The public consultation on the guidance Drugs: Guidance for Schools can be found at http://www.

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