The DfE have recently refreshed their guidance for school governors. While there is no explicit reference to drugs or alcohol (unlike sex and relationships education which is addressed) there are elements in the guidance that may be useful.
The guidance points out that (for maintained schools) the law demands that the curriculum should be “balanced and broadly based” and should
promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society; and prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.
One can, I think, make a very strong case that a school without a PSHE curriculum, including drug and alcohol education, would be falling down in regard to these duties.
Promoting the general wellbeing of pupils
Governors are advised that they have a duty towards promoting the wellbeing of their pupils which is set out in law as:
- physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing;
- protection from harm and neglect;
- education, training and recreation;
- the contribution children make to society; and
- social and economic wellbeing.
Drug and alcohol prevention are ways that school governors can show they are contributing to the protection of pupils from harm as well as developing social wellbeing.
The guidance reminds governors of their duty to ensure the school has a behaviour policy based on regularly reviewed principles which must be the subject of consultation if they are to be changed. Governors also have a number of roles in relation to exclusion including:
a wider role to hold headteachers to account for the lawful use of exclusion. Exclusion must be for disciplinary reason and all exclusions must be done in line with the legal requirements. Where a pupil is removed from the school premises without being excluded there needs to be a lawful basis for this decision, for example, under the powers of a maintained school to direct a pupil offsite to improve their behaviour.
Supporting pupils in school with additional health needs
The DfE recognise that some pupils will have additional health needs, which may include the need for medicines. They say that governors should ensure that there is a policy for this eventuality and that:
The policy should address emergency procedures, training, supervision, record-keeping, including storage and disposal. It should also set up a named staff member to coordinate health care needs and to link with parents.
Below is a presentation we’ve done aimed at helping school governors see how addressing drugs and alcohol could be important to their school.