Axed cash threatens drug schooling

DRUGS education in Suffolk is under threat after government money-men axed funding.County council chiefs are determined to maintain their current programme, but admit they will need discussions with schools about where to find the cash.

DRUGS education in Suffolk is under threat after government money-men axed funding.

County council chiefs are determined to maintain their current programme, but admit they will need discussions with schools about where to find the cash.

Ministers claim the increase in school budgets this year will cover the cost of paying drug teaching experts.

But with headteachers still reeling from last year's cash crisis it is clear finding the extra money will be tough.

A county council spokeswoman said: "We are going to be talking to the Schools Forum about how the work could be funded and provided in the future.

"This is an important area of work and we will be doing everything we can to ensure it continues."

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It is feared at least half of Britain's 150 drug advisers will be axed when government cash runs out in April.

A survey by the National Health Education Group has revealed many of the country's LEAs would not have a drug adviser by Easter and some areas will be left without any expert drug tuition.

The council spokeswoman said none of the posts in Suffolk's drug advisory team were entirely dependent upon government funding.

Most drug teaching is carried out within school lessons, but three part time community education workers and Drug Action Team trainers all provide expert support.

It is unclear whether any of these posts will be affected by the funding gap.

Last year, training courses were mounted for headteachers and their personal, social and health education staff.

The county council also staged a drug education conference for students and provides information evenings for parents.

And council chiefs believe the programmes are having a real impact in education children about the dangers of drugs.

Jan McDonald, county adviser for personal and social development, said: "Schools set their drug education within a planned PSHE programme which addresses decision-making, building self-esteem and assertiveness and which generally helps students to develop and practise life skills.

"They find this approach has greater impact and relevance to students' lives."

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