Planning - Education in Schools
A critical early decision for your Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) is to decide whether to link to and support the uptake of an existing evidence-informed education program, or to support your local school/s in delivering appropriate and effective education sessions.
LDATs are not responsible for drug education in schools as it’s the school’s responsibility to determine how it will meet its health-related curriculum. The important role an LDAT can play is to support their schools by promoting parent and community involvement with the school’s activities. LDATs may consider delivering additional complementary activities beyond the school environment to strengthen this work through a whole-of-community approach.
We encourage LDATs to link schools with existing alcohol and other drugs education programs that have been shown to work. In addition to the three listed here, you may find other education programs through peak youth bodies, local health services and by drawing on local knowledge and networks.
Select an evidence-based activity
Consider the following when selecting an evidence-based alcohol and other drugs education program to support your education in schools activity.
Linking with existing education programs
- CLIMATE Schools
CLIMATE Schools is an evidence-informed program that addresses the issues of alcohol and drug use from a health and wellbeing perspective. The program has been evaluated that has been shown to reduce drug use. The program offers online modules from years 8-10. CLIMATE was developed by a group of leading AOD organisations, including the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of New South Wales.
- School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project (SHAHRP)
Developed by the National Drug Research Institute and Curtin University, SHAHRP is a classroom-based program aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm and risky consumption. The SHAHRP program was developed with young people and teachers and reflects the life experiences of young people, while also fitting well within the school curriculum. The program is culturally adaptable and has demonstrated harm reduction outcomes.
- School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA)
For 20 years, SDERA has been supporting schools, early learning centres and community agencies in WA with services, programs and resources for drug education and road safety. SDERA is funded by the Department of Education WA, the Mental Health Commission and the Road Safety Commission.
Avoiding poor practice
Be mindful that there are numerous examples of poor practice in alcohol and other drugs education in schools. Remember, education programs can be effective provided they are based on principles of ‘effective practice’.
When reviewing existing education programs, consider the table What works and doesn’t work, in order to assess whether the program is likely to be effective or not.
Due to the limited number of quality education programs available and the need for tailored approaches, many Local Drug Action Teams will support schools to develop and deliver a targeted education activity for their school community. Review the paragraph below Determine resources required and Map your steps for insight into what is required when supporting schools to develop new approaches.
There is a lot of information available on alcohol and other drug-related issues. Sometimes high-profile public incidents, controversy, and the political landscape can skew perceptions around the alcohol and drug issues in communities.
For guidance on gathering reliable information view Identifying alcohol and drug issues.
Supporting schools to deliver education programs
Local Drug Action Teams are not responsible for delivering alcohol and other drug education in schools, unless the group has the appropriate expertise and relevant training. Their role is primarily to support schools to deliver quality alcohol and other drugs education. This can be done in many ways, including:
- Engaging with schools to know whether and how the school already addresses drug education and health promotion in the curriculum
- Understanding the various ways in which schools can influence risk and protective factors for drug use
- Increasing awareness of the role of alcohol and other drugs education in schools
- Providing evidence and data around local needs to inform the school’s approach
- Linking schools to quality pre-existing programs and resources that boost ‘protective factors’
- Supporting schools with communication around alcohol and other drugs education
- Promoting collaboration between students, staff, parents and carers and the broader community.
Set your objectives
Setting objectives for your activities is an important part of the planning process and helps to ensure critical components of your activity are supported.
Schools that are delivering existing education programs such as CLIMATE schools can use or adapt the objectives already established for these programs.
Over the next (xx time) months, work with (insert number) schools of the (specify name) community to:
- Engage with (xx number) community schools over a three-month period to discuss the importance of evidence-based school drug education
- Support (insert number) schools to take action to address alcohol and other drug-related harms by increasing the schools’ awareness of the harms associated with risky drinking and harms associated other drug use over a six-month period
- Increase (xx number) schools’ awareness of what they can do to address risky drinking and to prevent and delay drug use by increasing (xx number) schools’ awareness of evidence-based approaches to school alcohol and other drug education
- Support (insert number) schools to implement evidence-based school alcohol and other drug education programs by connecting (xx number) schools with (xx name) program provider e.g. Climate Schools, School Drug Education and Road Aware Program, (xx name) expert speaker from Education In Schools toolkit
- As a result of participating in the (xx name) program:
- (xx number) students will report a demonstrated increase in awareness of the harms of risky drinking and/or other drug use
- (xx number) students can report specific harms associated with risky alcohol and other drug use
- (xx number) students will report a change in their belief of the harms associated with risky alcohol and other drug use
- (xx number) students will report that they are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
Working with community partners
Strong partnerships are critical to your success in preventing alcohol and other drug-related harms among students or in the broader community.
Productive partnerships between schools, family and the community provide a strong network of connections that can help protect young people against a range of harms including those associated with drugs, emotional distress and problem behaviors.1
Partners can also support the education program in many ways, including promoting the program, recruiting schools, providing expert guest speakers, financial support, and much more.
The focus of the education (e.g. social emotional wellbeing, resilience) may influence the type of individuals, networks and organisations that your group partners with.
Partners may include:
- Local primary and secondary schools
- School staff including principals, teachers, student services consultants (counsellors) and administrative staff
- School community including parents or carers, school SRC representatives, homework clubs and study groups.
- Parent associations
- Youth associations and groups in the area
- Sporting clubs
- Community arts organisations (e.g. music, dance, drama)
- Local council.
LDATs have a key role in facilitating productive partnerships between schools, family and the community. The involvement of families and the community in alcohol and other drugs education in schools can increase the likelihood of their effectiveness and promote long-lasting effects.
The Parent Involvement in Drug Education: Guidelines for Schools provides the following six guidelines for parental involvement:
- Parental involvement in drug education should be a part of the school’s wider parent involvement activities
- Communication is the key strategy for effective parent involvement in drug education
- Schools should foster the development of strong relationships with parents and the wider community to enhance a student’s sense of connectedness to family and school
- Schools and parents should work in partnership
- Schools should employ a range of strategies to involve a broad cross-section of parents
- Parent involvement in drug education should be appropriate to the age and stage of development of students.2
Determine resources required
All education programs in schools need to be adequately resourced. Below is an indicative list of resources required for schools to deliver alcohol and other drug education. Local Drug Action Teams may be able to support schools by providing some of these resources or linking them to other partners who can provide additional support.
- Basic administrative tools – access to stationery and office supplies, printers, phones, printing, a workspace for administrative duties
- Venue for education sessions – often the school classroom, but a hall or staffroom could also be used for student education sessions, teacher training and parent sessions. Community partners may be able to provide additional off-site venue options
- Funds to undertake police checks/working-with- children checks where necessary
- Knowledge/materials and possibly funds to deliver training to school staff or teachers
- Knowledge/materials and possibly funds to develop promotional material to promote your alcohol and other drugs education to schools activity
- Personnel time to liaise with schools (e.g. attend meetings, provide advice)
- Liability and other insurance coverage (where appropriate).
Consider measures to success
While you are planning your activity, it is important to consider measures to success for your education in schools activity. Determine how you will evaluate the success of your activity linking your evaluation measures to your objectives (see Measure your success).