Report on drugs

If you are particularly interested in cannabis, in 2011 we showed that about 1 in 5 pupils in Year 10 had tried at least one drug with up to 11% of Year 10 pupils reporting they tried cannabis. However, figures from 1986, show a declining trend from around 2003 of those who reported taking cannabis.

We produced our first reports on drugs in the 1980s and have published many since. Our latest drugs figures can be found in our Young People into... reports. We have also produced a variety of reports about Trends in drug use among young people. In 2005 we summarised some figures about cannabis in a Special Cannabis Report (pdf).

DRUG EDUCATION AND DRUG USE see also... PRESENTATION TO DRUG EDUCATION FORUM - March 2005

In an issue of the journal 'Education and Health' (vol.21 no.3) we reported on a link between lower drug use and usefulness of drug education which shows a similar association to the Department of Health's survey 'Drug use, smoking and drinking among young people in England in 2001'

We have asked a question in our secondary questionnaire, about pupil’s recall and assessment of school lessons about a variety of Personal, Social and Health Education topics. The following example shows the results from a survey of 13,809 Year 10 (14-15 year old) pupils:

  • 32% said they cannot remember any lessons about drug education (including tobacco and alcohol)
  • 10% thought that they were not at all useful
  • 20% thought their lessons were of some use
  • 21% said quite useful
  • 15% said very useful
boxchart boxchart boxchart boxchart

boxchart

Can't remember any Not at all useful Some use Quite useful Very useful

Percentages reporting quality of school lessons about drugs

There were marked differences in the drug experience of the pupils depending on how they rated their drug education. If they said they could not remember any drug education:

  • 32% said they had ever taken a drug [other than medications, alcohol and tobacco]

If they said that any drug education lessons were not at all useful:

  • 40% said they had ever taken a drug [other than medications, alcohol and tobacco]

If they said that any drug education lessons were of some use:

  • 27% said they had ever taken a drug [other than medications, alcohol and tobacco]

If they said that any drug education lessons were quite useful:

  • 23% said they had ever taken a drug [other than medications, alcohol and tobacco]

If they said that any drug education lessons were very useful:

  • 23% said they had ever taken a drug [other than medications, alcohol and tobacco]
boxchart boxchart boxchart boxchart boxchart
Can't remember any Not at all useful Some use Quite useful Very useful

Percentages experimenting with drugs, by usefulness of school lessons about drugs

So, the more useful that they thought their drug education was, the less likely it was that 14-15 year olds had ever tried drugs.

 

We can find this association in males and females separately, (one example is a data set from Hull and East Riding where a much smaller questionnaire was used that focussed only on drugs). So, this association can readily be replicated. It is tempting to interpret this finding as meaning that good drug education inhibits or retards experimentation with drugs. However, it might also be the case that those young people who are most likely to experiment with drugs are those least likely to respond well to drug education of any quality.

Perhaps the best reaction to these data is to ask ourselves how we can offer drug education that will be useful to all young people, whatever their background or likely future habits.

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Comments about SHEU

"You have often stood alone against the media who were often looking for the sensational headline. I have noticed an important change: the media now look out for and report very fairly and fully on the reports from the team." 
Tributes from a Health Education Advisor to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Education Advisor

"Brilliant - thank you Angela. As always you and your team are so proficient at getting our requests dealt with so promptly - it is a real pleasure to work with such a great organisation."

Health Improvement Adviser

"Many thanks to SHEU for your excellent professional support over the years."

PSHE teacher

"We're very happy to commission another survey from you. Our colleagues in School Improvement are dead keen to work with us on this. During our last LA Inspection, we were flagged from our Tellus data as having a bullying problem. We could demonstrate with our SHEU data - which had a much better sample size and coverage of the authority - that we did not have the problem they suggested. The Inspectors went away happy and we are definitely surveying again with SHEU."

Local Authority Senior Adviser

Please could our College be part of the SHEU survey this academic year? We did it in 2016 and 2017 and found it incredibly informative and it helped us shape our PSHE provision.

Assistant Principal

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." Tribute from OFSTED to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

OFSTED

“(The SHEU survey) was very, very useful. It gave us reassurance we weren’t missing a trick. For example not many pupils in the sample year groups were taking illegal drugs, which re-enforced our opinions. But the survey also raised issues and flagged some things up. We discovered that some of our girls weren’t eating enough – the percentage of girls in our school not eating lunch the day before the survey was higher than the county average. There were other concerns too, specifically around cigarettes, alcohol and attendance.
The school used this data and took a number of actions to address it. More female peer mentors were put in place and the school asked NEXUS (the Extended Schools service) for help, so they developed a programme for girls which addressed their eating patterns, healthy eating, sex education and self-esteem issues.
We ran an anti-bullying group for Year 9 as a preventative measure, based upon data provided by our current Year 10 students.
The travel data revealed that a high number of pupils took the car to school so we involved the BIKE-IT scheme who ran assemblies, brought in their bikes (including one with a pedal-powered smoothie maker!), and raised awareness of health and green issues.
The information about how happy the students were with their lives raised some concerns as far fewer girls were as happy as the boys, so work was done around developing aspirations, role-models and self-esteem."        
 

Deputy Head, Secondary School

"Within the curriculum, we are part of the Healthy Schools programme - and the local, Director of Public Health Award. We cover many facets of health from emotional intelligence to safety education and our very strong, Anti-Bullying and Child Protection programmes. You can imagine our delight when the Local Authority and our school nurse made the following comments after we took part in the regional Schools Health Education Unit Survey: " Head Teacher.
“This was an amazing set of outcomes and really good evidence that (your school) is doing a wonderful job in prioritizing the health and well-being of its pupils … Well done to staff, governors and parents for all your work on this through the Director of Public Health award and other strategies. It is very clear that pupils feel happy, safe and involved at the school and your caring ethos shines through this data.”
Healthy Schools Coorduinator.

 

Headteacher & Healthy Schools Coordinator

"I would like to say that this survey was very useful and made me realise things about PE and health that I had never realised before......Food at school is groovy, especially if your school does Jamie Olivers School Dinners. Viva apples and thanks for the survey." Female pupil, 13 yrs old

Female pupil, 13yrs

"We did this last year with Year 8 and 10 and was incredibly useful. It is WELL worth doing and so useful to inform PSHE planning. The safeguarding audit team were delighted that we had done it. The findings are so so interesting.
"The findings are really comprehensive and range from what percentage of year 8 have breakfast in the morning to how many have tried this particular drug, to identity, health and sleep patterns, mental health, citizenship issues....
"It's essential for the PSHE and pastoral curriculum."

PSHCEE coordinator