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 10 top tips for delivering an effective programme at school
Education around alcohol
The Alcohol Education Trust has learnt much over the last decade about planning and delivering a manageable, enjoyable and easily implemented PSHE scheme of work to ensure pupils learn to stay safe around alcohol. Their involvement has assisted a number of independent schools including Sherborne and Leweston. AET’s CEO Helena Conibear, a PSHE accredited practitioner, reports...
 Alcohol is very different from learning about drugs or cigarettes which are very much ‘don’t’ messages. In Britain 80% of adults drink and alcohol is an integral part of our culture and society. This means children need to learn
to navigate alcohol and its effects, social or physical, whether they choose to drink or not. We’ve drawn together 10 top recommendations to help ensure the lessons schools deliver are both effective and enjoyable.
1) The right message at the
right age and abilities
If you visit
you will see that all recommended resources
are listed by year group as well as by topic,
this is to ensure that children don’t receive
the same lesson on alcohol each year. When surveyed, many children said they found alcohol education boring, repetitive and preachy. At age 13 a preventative approach works well,
but this must move to harm minimisation approach as they get older so they learn to
look after themselves and their friends if alcohol becomes part of their lives. Having more picture and story led scenarios for children with SEN is key too. You can download 30 lesson plans, implementation guidance, worksheets and games for free here: http:// download-teacher-workbook/ If you’d like
a hard copy you can order one via: https://
2) The tipping point – age 13 is the
perfect time for lessons on alcohol
and this is the perfect time, before they start encountering alcohol outside of the home.
3) No preaching, scare
mongering or moral tales
If you read the PSHE Association principles of good PSHE, you will know we are encouraged to use positive approaches that encourage children to make healthier decisions. These methods involve role play of ‘what would
you do if’ scenarios – what we call rehearsal strategies – such as planning an 18th Birthday party. Outside speakers who share their stories, or focusing on the extremes of behaviour or shock tactics are not shown to be effective,
as although children may be fascinated they see the information as too far removed from the reality of their lives. Alcohol education is best delivered by trusted professionals that the children know and trust.
4) Plan lessons that are not ‘top
down’ and information heavy
It’s very tempting to  ll lessons with information on alcohol and the law, the consequences of drinking too much. The
best lesson structure involves a 5 minute
ice breaker (once you’ve reminded children
of the ground rules and where they can go
for advice and support), not more than 20 minutes of information and should then involve a core activity which re ects the information allowing children to work out
for themselves what wiser choices are. For example, learning about units and guidelines can be dull and boring, but if it involves the alcohol clock game it is transformed into a lesson that is memorable and effective. Take
a look here: www.alcoholeducationtrust. org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Alcohol- Clock-Game.pdf or there is virtual night club version on our student learning zone via www.
know or indeed don’t know, or would like to learn more about. You should always have a baseline or assessing knowledge lesson if taking on a new group for PSHE, or indeed in science. Take a look at the workbook or visit https:// assessing-knowledge/ for inspiration and ideas – the hot seat show of hands ice breaker, the why do people drink or not core activity and quiz cards. To order a hardcopy you can email
6) Ground rules and sign posting
It’s a very hard balance to strike between advising students not to divulge personal experiences, but to ensure they feel con dent enough to come to you with any concerns they
Seana Cummings, Head of PSHE, Sherborne School, Dorset
Helena Conibear has spoken to staff and parents about alcohol on three separate occasions in the past two academic years. We, and parents, have been so impressed with the quality of the information, advice and resources provided by the AET that
we have already booked them in for the coming academic year.
The talks are always well received as Helena has both a very relaxed yet con dent presentation style and quite obviously knows the information and latest facts. This is especially clear in the question and answer part of her sessions where I have only seen calm and informed answers to whatever is thrown at her! Exceptionally helpful for us, she is also very  exible and will adapt her presentations to suit our needs and requirements. I have also used many of the AET resources when planning the alcohol education module of our
PSHE course as the AET’s vision for young people to enter adulthood having a healthy relationship with alcohol ensures that its resources engage pupils allowing them
to build the necessary resilience from a position of informed choice.
 This is the age that many children will have
drunk their  rst whole drink, overwhelmingly in
a family setting. When the talk about alcohol
programme was evaluated among 4,000
children, the researchers found that 40% had
already had a whole drink. At age 11 just 1% of
children drink and a general life skills approach
that builds self-esteem and resilience is
recommended before that age as there is some
evidence that too much information too early
can encourage experimentation. However, by
age 13 children are looking to older age groups
For advice and further information, get in touch via: Helena Conibear: 07876 593 345
5) Always assess what
the children know before you start
Too often we plough in with information and stats without working out what the children
 12 Independent Schools Magazine
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