Schools are still a “dark place”, according to an independent report that claims that students are “overwhelmingly exposed to drug and alcohol consumption” and “underperform academically”.
The report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), published by the Independent Higher Education Group, found that students in the UK were “unlikely to be taught about drugs and alcohol”.
“Schools and communities need to act to prevent the spread of drugs and the harms that can result from drug use and abuse, the report says.”
A new national drug strategy should be put in place to ensure that drugs are not only taught but that they are widely available, with a focus on prevention of drug and drug-related harm.
“The report says that “in the UK, drug use among young people is increasing” and that there are more students taking drugs than ever before.”
This is because of a new emphasis on drug prevention at schools and a rise in the use of drugs in youth,” it says.
Drug use among youth is “an issue that is of particular concern” in schools, according to the report.”
School attendance for pupils under 15 years old has been falling for some years and it has been increasing among pupils aged between 16 and 19 years old,” it said.”
While the number of students taking drug or alcohol in the classroom has fallen, the number taking it in the community has increased, and pupils are more often found in drug-affected areas than elsewhere in the country.
“The HEPI report also highlighted that “the use of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis is on the rise” and warns that the problem is “further compounded” when it comes to drugs in schools.”
In some schools, students are given access to alcohol in a way that is not appropriate, such as allowing students to smoke or smoke and drink in the same classroom,” it reads.”
These changes have the potential to make it more difficult for students to focus on the lessons, and make it harder for them to learn the skills required to get on to the exams.
“It also makes it harder to ensure safe and appropriate school environments for students, particularly those from ethnic minorities.”
In 2016, the Government announced a $4.9 million fund to help schools “build their capacity to address the issue of drug use in schools”.
However, the fund has only been announced in the past two months, and the report states that “despite the increased focus on this issue, there remains a significant lack of information, training and support in schools about how to deal with students who are using drugs.”HEPi says that the “overall message” from the report is that “drug use among children and young people in schools is an issue that should be taken seriously.”
“We know that drug use can have long-term negative effects on the health and well-being of young people,” it adds.
“The HCEP recommends that the Government: 1) strengthen existing drug and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs; 2) develop new and better information and information training and advice to schools on the issue; and 3) establish a new drug strategy that is based on evidence and prevention.”
Read the report here.