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SCOTTISH EDUCATION MINISTER SETS UP SCHOOL DRUG SAFETY TEAM

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A School Drug Safety Team is to be set up by Scottish education minister Helen Liddell to reassure parents that eve...
A School Drug Safety Team is to be set up by Scottish education minister Helen Liddell to reassure parents that everything possible is being done to guarantee pupil safety in Scotland's schools.

The School Drug Safety Team will ensure that local authorities, teachers, pupils and parents are aware of how best to deal with drug incidents in schools.

Mrs Liddell said:

'In light of this week's incident in Glasgow, I am taking immediate action. I am establishing a School Drug Safety Team to review guidelines to assist teachers to cope with drug related incidents and ensure that everything possible is being done to guarantee the safety of pupils.

'It is vitally important for parents to know that procedures are in place in their children's schools to deal effectively with such incidents. This week's incident in Glasgow appears to have been approached with efficiency and sensitivity by the school and I commend them for acting swiftly. However, I feel more has to be done to reassure parents across Scotland and that is why I am setting up this Team.

'It is g overnment policy to encourage education authorities and schools to address drug education in schools; guidelines have been provided and good quality materials have been made available. Great progress has also been made in this field by SAD (Scotland Against Drugs) and HEBS (Health Education Board Scotland) and it is my aim that the Team I am setting up today will build upon this work..

'In addition, HM Inspectors of Schools have also issued guidance to schools and education authorities on the management of incidents of drug misuse. Within each school there should be a designated member of the senior staff with responsibility for health education. This person should take the lead within the school to ensure that all pupils undertake an effective programme of drug education and that teachers are aware of what is expected of them.

'The School Drug Safety Team will be a collaborative venture and will involve all relevant agencies; health. education and police and will build upon the considerable activity in which all agencies are already engaged in the area of drugs education. This initiative is consistent with the drugs strategy launched by Sam Galbraith and Henry McLeish on 7 October which put a further£5m into Scottish Office spending on anti-drug related activity with£300,000 to HEBS to tackle heroin misuse amongst young people.'

BACKGROUND

1. Details of the membership and full remit of the Safety Team will be announced shortly.

2. Drugs minister Sam Galbraith and home affairs minister Henry McLeish launched a package of measures to tackle drug-related crime and help addicts kick their habit on 7 October.

3. A white paper for the UK 'Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain' was launched in April 1998.

4. It is the policy of this government to encourage education authorities to address health education, including drugs education, within a comprehensive programme of personal and social development. This approach is designed to ensure that information about drugs is given, not in isolation, but as part of a programme that considers a number of issues relating to moral choices and healthy living. Guidelines on health education have been issued by the Scottish Office as part of the 5-14 programme on Environmental Studies. This gives health education a firm place in the curriculum and highlights drugs education as a key feature. Good quality health education resources are available to schools for use with pupils and for staff development purposes.

5. In 1995, a curriculum framework for health education was jointly developed by the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department (SOEID) and Strathclyde Region. The framework is called the Health Education for Living Project (HELP) and it was offered free of charge to all schools in Scotland. HELP covers the span from pre-5 to S5/S6 and although it covers the full range of health education it gives particular focus to drug education. HELP is currently being updated to take account of recent developments in drug and nutrition education and will be available in its revised form later this year.

6. In recent years HM Inspector of Schools have published a number of reports on health education including drug education. Two reports were published in 1994 and 1996. HM Inspectors are currently engaged in an evaluation of drug education and the management of incidents of drug misuse in a sample of schools and will publish a report later this year.

7. Earlier this year the government supported the Scotland Against Drugs launch of their primary school initiative. This is a national initiative to enhance and improve the impact of drug education in all of Scotland's primary schools. This initiative is being driven by a steering group comprising leading individuals from health, business and educational backgrounds and it will include additional training for teachers and the provision of appropriate materials for use in the classroom.

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