Drugs Education

Making Safer Choices: drugs awareness programme for schools

Making Safer Choices: drugs awareness programme for schools

Making Safer Choices, our evidence-based drug and alcohol education programme for students and parents, has been further developed for 2016/17 to incorprorate a spiral curriculum of age-appropriate sessions for students in years 7-8, 9-11 and sixth form. 

The core programme of six weeks of drug and alcohol education PSHE lessons has been expanded to include bite-sized form time sessions, for schools where PSHE is no longer timetabled and for sixth forms. Lesson plans,  PowerPoints and resources are provided for teachers to deliver effective and engaging sessions to their classes. Assemblies and interactive workshops are delivered by DSMF at the start of PSHE lessons and form time sessions. Evidence shows that a more embedded approach, with a longer period of time for students to explore information, reflect on the issues and develop important life skills in context, has the most lasting impact on changed behaviours, and on perceptions of risk and consequence. Planning and resources are based on an international evidence base of what is most effective in drug and alcohol education, and on European standards of good practice and are reviewed and updated on an annual basis. 

The drugs awareness PSHE lessons and form time sessions are designed to be delivered by schools’ own teachers as part of PSHE, and combine information about drugs and alcohol, their effects, and what the law says, with discussion around issues such as different motivations to take drugs, peer pressure and resilience. Woven into all of this is the story of Dan, a real boy and his real story, told by his mum Fiona who also delivers workshops and assemblies wherever possible. Training or briefings for teachers delivering the programme is offered, as well as generic drug awareness training for teachers. A drugs awareness session for parents takes place as part of the programme, and is an essential part of our support for young people.


Feedback from teachers, students and parents has been very positive. Students are more aware of the risks and how to make choices to keep themselves and their friends safe. One wrote, "I know more about the risks of taking drugs and that even if other people take drugs and they're fine it doesn't mean you will be fine". Many of the students felt that hearing the story of Dan and the impact on his family and friends was the best part of the programme, because it "made it real". The most popular part of the programme was the videos, which included news footage about Dan, with Tim and Fiona talking, Fiona reading out her impact statement, Dan's friends talking about Dan, what happened, and the impact on them and the school, and there are other clips of young people talking about the effects of taking drugs. Some of the students said the lesson on peer pressure was the best part, "because at our age peer pressure is used way too much and it showed how to get out of the situation." Feedback from parents has also been overwhelmingly positive: "Thank you. This is just what I needed" "What fantastic people doing amazing work - thank you"

Making Safer Choices: Drug and Alcohol Education Programme for Schools and Colleges

We offer to schools and colleges:

  • Planning and resources for teachers to deliver six weeks of drug and alcohol education lessons as part of PSHE, including powerpoints and videos and class packs of resources
  • Planning and resources for form tutors to deliver 12-18 20-minute drug and alcohol form time sessions, including powerpoints and videos and class packs of resources
  • An introductory session for teachers delivering the programme
  • An assembly and/or interactive introductory workshop for students receiving the programme prior to its starting
  • A workshop for parents and carers, delivered by the DSM Foundation team
  • Drug and alcohol awareness training for teachers and school staff
  • Packs of resources for students and teachers

The DSM Foundation’s work with parents and carers is a core part of our drug education offer. Parents and carers play a vital role in their teenagers’ lives and have more influence than they often realise, but having conversations about drugs and alcohol, along with the other risks to which their children are exposed, can be daunting and difficult. 

DSM Foundation workshops for parents and carers  involve finding out about:

  • levels of young people’s exposure to drugs and alcohol
  • factors that affect young people’s decisions about drugs and alcohol, including teenage brain development
  • what young people need to know about the risks of drugs and alcohol
  • what it’s useful for parents and carers to know, and practical suggestions for what you can do to support your children to stay safe.

 DSM Foundation youth ambassadors talk to parents as young people about when and where alcohol and drugs come along, strategies for handling peer pressure and advice for parents about talking to their teens. There are opportunities to ask questions and resources and information to take away. 


Making Safer Choices: 2016-17

The Foundation is now working with students, teachers and parents in almost 100 schools and colleges, mostly across London but also the south of England, and as far afield as Leicestershire and Suffolk. These include academies, faith schools, independent schools and grammar schools. Between September 2016 and April 2017 well over 60 new schools have contacted us, and that number increases weekly. This is almost entirely through word of mouth and recommendation from school to school.  

In autumn and spring terms 2016-17 over 10,000 young people heard Dan's mum Fiona speak about her son at assemblies and as part of interactive drug education workshops. More than 6,000 year 9-11 students studied our drug and alcohol education programme in PSHE lessons or form time, and almost 4,000 sixth formers did the same with our year 12/13 programme, as well as around 1,200 year 7 & 8 pupils with our programme for KS3. 




We are working with the following schools/colleges:

Alexandra Park School, Muswell Hill

Archbishop Tenison’s CE High, Croydon

Ark All Saints Academy, Camberwell

Belvoir High School, Leicestershire

BRIT School, Croydon

Carshalton Boys School, Sutton

Caterham School, Surrey

Cheam High, Sutton

Chelsea Academy, Kensington and Chelsea

Chessington Community College

Christ's School, Richmond

Coloma Convent, Croydon

Croydon High School

Darrick Wood School, Bromley

Dulwich College, Southwark

East Surrey College, Redhill, Surrey

Edenham High School, Croydon

Epsom College, Surrey

Glenthorne High School, Sutton

Greenwich Community College, Plumstead

Grey Coats Hospital School, Westminster

Harlington School, Hayes

Harris Academy Beckenham

Harris Academy Orpington

Harris Academy South Norwood

Harris Academy Tottenham

Harris Chobham Academy, Stratford

Harris City Academy Crystal Palace, Croydon

Holy Cross School, Kingston

Ibstock Place School, Roehampton

James Allen Girls' School, Dulwich

John Fisher School, Sutton

Lady Elenor Holles School, Hampton

Langely Park Boys' School, Bromley

Langely Park Girls' School, Bromley

London SE Colleges, Bexley

London SE Colleges, Bromley

London SE Colleges, Orpington

Meridien High, Croydon

Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College, Croydon

Oasis Academy Coulsdon, Surrey

Oasis Academy Mayfield, Southampton

Oasis Academy Shirley Park, Croydon

Old Palace of John Whitgift School, Croydon

Overton Grange School, Sutton

Oxted School, Surrey

Quest Academy, Croydon

Radnor House School, Twickenham

Revensbourne School, Bromley

Ricard's Lodge School, Wimbledon

Riddlesdown Collegiate, Croydon

Rutlish School, Merton

Ryde School with Upper Chine, Isle of Wight

Shirley High, Croydon

St Andrew's School, Croydon

St Felix School, Southwold, Suffolk

St George's College, Weybridge

St Joseph's RC High, Croydon

St Martin in the Field School, Tulse Hill

St Mary's RC High, Croydon

St Richard Reynolds School, Twickenham

Sutton Grammar School, Sutton

Sutton High School

Tanbridge House School, Horsham, Sussex

Teddington School, Richmond

The Limes College, Sutton

Therfield School, Leatherhead, Surrey

Thomas Knyvett College, Ashford, Surrey

Tolworth Girls' School, Kingston

Trinity School, Croydon

Virgo Fidelis RC High, Croydon

Wallington County Grammar, Sutton

Wallington County Girls' School, Sutton

Warlingham High, Surrey

West Hill School, Leatherhead, Surrey

Whitgift School, Croydon

Wilson's School, Sutton

Woodcote High, Croydon