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 have about their own or someone else’s drinking. We always advise that you remind children at the beginning of each lesson
to use language such as ‘I know someone who’ and not to ask you personal questions, but also to list in school, local and national sources of support. Our  nal advice is to have an ‘ask it basket’ where students can post any questions and that you will then come back to them with an answer – you can’t be an expert on every topic and should never try and fudge an answer.
7) Invest in CPD for a PSHE lead or Head of Pastoral Care
Schools with outstanding OFSTED’s
usually have outstanding programmes
of PSHE. PSHE can only be outstanding if there is some investment in CPD and topic knowledge. Trained staff can then cascade their learning and knowledge to
Caroline O’Toole, Leweston School, Dorset
others in school ensuring an affordable
and sustainable legacy. If you would like
to organise training on alcohol, please
email –
as little as an hour’s guidance and advice can transform delivery! We also have a conference on alcohol and drugs education for schools with workshops and key speakers on the 21st June in Liverpool (free for PSHE leads!)
8) Involve a social norms approach
Teachers, parents and pupils all over estimate the number of teenagers who drink, smoke, take drugs and engage in risky behaviours. It’s really important to share facts such as 80% of 18 – 24 year olds don’t binge drink and get drunk and that the majority of 11- 15 year olds don’t drink alcohol, for example. We have some great
quizzes and activities to help you get the message across; take a look at
9) Integrate on line apps,
games and media
It’s very important that we move with the times and integrate new technologies to keep children engaged. Take a look at the challenge zone here: www.
10) Leave time for evaluation!
This is my greatest fault as I always run out of time, but it is good to give children a chance to re ect on what they’ve learnt and remembered. They can feed back on what was most surprising and useful and what else they would like to know. There are some great techniques such as rolling a dice to randomly select who speaks for example – take a look at the workbook as ever!
Our  nal and perhaps most important advice is to have enough lessons on a topic for children to be able to learn enough to build their knowledge and resilience. For alcohol we know that four 45 minute ‘talk about alcohol’ lessons in Year 8 with 2 top up lessons in Year 9 are evidenced to be enough to signi cantly delay the age that they choose to start drinking whole drinks – as well as improving knowledge and engagement with PSHE. A couple of lessons or a drop down day won’t do the trick I’m afraid, it is the building spirals of learning over time, group work and re ection on scenarios which really work!
 Leweston School has for a number of years used AET educational resources as part of the PSHE programme; generally with years 9, 10, and 12. The resources are comprehensive, user friendly, attractive and imaginative. They do not require too much preparation. We have also had a very successful talk for parents and INSET for teachers. I would highly recommend the AET to schools and their resources.
A ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing
 James Brown, former head of year for Brentwood School and now a non-executive director at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, explains why he thinks every school should be taking a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing.
 In 2015 the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) published seminal guidance on promoting mental health and wellbeing in schools emphasising the importance of ‘whole-school’ thinking. For those who aren’t familiar, this is the idea that improving approaches to mental health and wellbeing in schools is best achieved through its entire community – parents, governors, staff and pupils – working together and at every level. It means weaving wellbeing, social and emotional learning (SEL) into all areas of school life, from the curricula we compile, to the training we provide to staff, to the overarching policies we put in place.
Taking measures to build this kind of supportive environment is something schools can no longer afford to think of as a luxury, or an optional extra. The evidence on the links between wellbeing, learning and school improvement is overwhelming. We know, for example, that children with greater emotional attachment
to their school achieve better exam results, and that the
staff’s wellbeing is closely tied
to ability to perform their role effectively. Together, this tells us that a focus on wellbeing and mental health in schools is key to effective learning and teaching, and therefore something every school should be looking at.
With so many component parts
to consider, implementing a
whole school approach can
seem daunting. Positive school environments are, however, shaped to a large extent by the social
and emotional skills of those who work there, meaning staff training is one of the best places to start. The ef cacy of SEL approaches
in this area led me to become a supporter of Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, and it’s something I believe all school staff should have access to. As well as providing education around self- care and peer support, this course gives school staff the knowledge, con dence and skills to be able to spot the signs of common mental
health issues in young people, assess risk, communicate non- judgmentally and guide them to a place of further support.
Empowering staff with these skills is a key part of fostering
a mentally healthy school environment, and, if we’re
serious about promoting effective learning, something every school should be prioritising in 2018.
To  nd out more about Youth MHFA training visit:
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