Map your steps - Education in Schools
Your activity may include some or all steps below, depending on the capacity of the LDAT and partner community organisations.
The key steps involved in supporting schools to deliver alcohol and other drug education are provided below. This is a useful starting point for developing your Community Action Plan activity and informing your approach. Please note though that these steps only provide an indicative guide and it is important to tailor your approach to your local community:
1. Engaging schools
2. Providing evidence around local need
3. Providing evidence around local needs
4. Linking schools to quality programs
5. Supporting schools with communication.
Engaging the schools
Tips for engaging schools:
- Locate existing schools
- Find a person in the school who can act as a champion and invest time into this relationship. A champion may be in leadership role, have an influential personality, or be a proactive person who is engaged or interested in health education. For example, key contacts may include principals, teachers, school nurses, health and wellbeing coordinators, student counsellors, or administrative staff. Meet face-to-face if you can, rather than just sending out information via email
- When discussing alcohol and other drugs education with a school/s, promote the benefits to students, families, the school and broader community
- Learn how alcohol and other drugs education fits within their existing curriculum and how an LDAT may work with the school to support the delivery of the program or assist in external engagement, i.e. parent or carer information session
- Be aware of the enablers and barriers to engaging schools in alcohol and other drugs education, as presented in the table below Enablers and barriers to delivering AOD education in schools.
- Australian Government schools are required to deliver drug and alcohol education
- Alcohol and other drugs education fits within existing school curriculum, including health and wellbeing
- Alcohol and other drugs education has benefits for individual students, families, the school and the broader community.
- School teachers are time-poor with multiple competing demands
- The school curriculum is full with little room for flexibility and additions
- The school may be concerned about the potential for parent backlash if the alcohol and other drugs education is poorly communicated or delivered. See paragraph d: Supporting schools with communication.
Providing evidence around local need
Local Drug Action Teams can be a resource for local primary and secondary schools.
- LDATs can help provide schools with access to alcohol and other drug resources and evidence around local needs, and link them with local initiatives or networks. Providing evidence around local needs is important so that the education is focused on the most important issue.
- LDATs can assist schools by collating a list of local services that may offer further support for schools such as engaging with mental health education providers (Headspace/ Beyond Blue), parent support groups or local youth groups.
Linking schools to quality programs
Link schools with quality school education programs by:
1. Linking schools to existing evidence-based school education programs
2. Identify ‘suitably qualified’ expert sourced from a local network or peak body
3. Identify accurate sources of information and related materials
4. Identify training opportunities for teachers;
5. Working with the school to provide upskilling opportunities for parents.
A key role of Local Drug Action Team may be to help link schools to quality alcohol and other drugs education programs. This may include:
- Existing education programs, such as CLIMATE schools
- Expert guest speakers, sourced from local networks or peak bodies (What does and doesn't work table for more information on appropriate experts)
- Accurate information and related materials, such as school AOD policy templates. These can be found on each states Education Department websites or the ATODA Information Sheet for Schools for more information.
- Identifying training opportunities for teachers
- Upskilling opportunities for parents, such as The Other Talk.
Communication around AOD education is important. If done poorly, it may lead to parents, students and the community being misinformed about the purpose, content and outcomes/benefits of the education.
Supporting schools with communication
Local Drug Action Teams have a role in supporting schools to involve parents in alcohol and other drugs education. Some strategies that schools and parents can employ to improve communication between parents and school staff include:
- Ensuring that office staff are welcoming to parents
- Have students invite their parents to school events by writing personal invitations
- Mail school newsletters, invitations and important information directly to parents
- Develop a list of parents’ email addresses. (Ensure that you meet confidentiality requirements by only using ‘Bcc’ when emailing out invitations, unless permission has been explicitly sought to share email addresses)
- Ensure parents are aware of the school’s web address so they can access key information
- Develop a telephone tree of parents so that communication can occur easily
- Ensure there is sufficient notice of parent–teacher interviews and curriculum days (ideally, a yearly calendar with dates noted for the year to come)
- Allocate a school contact to each parent
- Involve parents in student support meetings, mentoring and managing individual pathways programs
- Hold progress report evenings
- Conduct social gatherings
- Establish a Parent Resource Centre
- Establish parent networks that can connect into existing parent association communications.
Measuring success and reporting
Measure and report on the success of your education in schools activity:
1. Collect evaluation measures to success with the schools you are engaging with as well working with the school to gather success measures from students participating in the activity (see Measure your success). Consider doing follow-up with the schools you are engaging with as well working with to track how they are going over time
2. Report on your success, acquit your funds and consider other things you can do to support young people in your community (see Next steps).