May 26, 2021. News

All Thames Valley secondary schools to receive new drugs awareness teaching materials

All secondary schools across the Thames Valley are being provided new resources to help educate young people on the dangers of drugs.

Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit commissioned the PSHE Association to develop new quality assured materials and lesson plans, ensuring teaching approaches and content are up-to-date, helping to educate young people to keep them safe.

The content is aimed at Year 9 students and is designed to be delivered over three separate lessons.  The first and last lesson is delivered by the teacher.  For the second lesson, a specially-trained Thames Valley Police Schools Officer will attend and lead the class.

The content is designed to raise young people’s awareness of the drugs and substances they may be offered or tempted to experiment with.  The lessons focus on the potential physical and mental harm of substance misuse as well as the wider damage to friendships and family relationships.  They explore the legal consequences and help lead young people to consider the impact a drug conviction can have on their future lives.

The materials also allow for discussion on the growing threat posed by county drug lines gangs  and the ways by which often vulnerable people are targeted and groomed, drawing them into the criminality and the risk of serious violence and exploitation.

A further package focused on violence and knife crime is being finalised and will be offered to schools later in the year for delivery to Years 7, 8 and 9.

All 16 of Thames Valley Police’s Schools Officers will be trained this summer in the safe delivery of the lesson content, receiving a PSHE Association and National Police Chief’s Council certification.

The lessons will then be taught in schools in the new academic year from September and are free to download via the PHSE Association website.

One school, St Gregory the Great Catholic School in Oxford has already begun to use the materials, teaching a class today (Wednesday 26 May) as part of the launch of the materials.  The school has also been discussing gang culture to help pupils understand the risks and issues.

Sgt Russ Massie delivers the lesson with pupils of St Gregory the Great Catholic School

Sgt Russ Massie, the tactical lead for child centred policing for Thames Valley Police and the Violence Reduction Unit, led the development of the resources:

“While the force rightly ensures we continue to take firm action against those involved in drug dealing and the violence it fuels, we equally know the importance of early education and prevention work with young people.

“These new teaching resources are modern and reflect the world today and sadly some of the risks young people face. They seek to minimise the harm posed by drugs and to tackle the risk of exploitation and criminalisation.

“The resources will be available to all schools across the Thames Valley and we are hopeful that they will become national products, part of a wider approach to schools policing led by the National Police Chief’s Council.”

Jess Manns, who teaches Year 9 pupils at St Gregory the Great Catholic School, said: 

“We are committed to giving our pupils not only academic success, but also the life-skills and awareness they need to keep themselves, their family and their friends safe from modern-day pressures and the harm of drugs and violence. 

“These excellent lesson plans are energetic and engage the young people to actively consider the risks and how they should respond.  We have already seen their levels of awareness, particularly of the consequences, increase.”

Sgt Russ Massie, teacher Jess Manns and pupils of St Gregory the Great Catholic School