HC Deb 27 June 1995 vol 262 cc670-1
3. Mrs. Angela Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Education if she will make a statement about drugs education and the national curriculum. [29109]

The Minister of State, Department for Education (Mr. Eric Forth)

My right hon. Friend and I are committed to the Department—and the education service—playing a full part in the Government's widely welcomed strategy for drug prevention. Aspects of drug education are a statutory requirement of national curriculum science for pupils aged from five to 16, demonstrating the importance that we attach to the subject. It is, of course, for schools to decide how best to organise drug education for their pupils. We have, however, set out in our recent circular the principles that we believe should underpin effective drug education, and at our request the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority has drawn up guidance to help schools to plan their curriculum provision in that area.

Mrs. Knight

Young people hear of drugs from a frighteningly young age, so I welcome my hon. Friend's initiative. Does he agree that it is not just what is taught that is important but who teaches it? Teenagers in particular are far more likely to listen to warnings from people with whom they identify, who are probably just a few years older than them, than to listen to warnings from someone of my age, whom they would instantly assume probably does not understand and was never young anyway?

Mr. Forth

I hope that any young person would listen attentively to my hon. Friend, as we all do when she pronounces. She has made an important point. Our circular makes it clear that schools should look imaginatively at every way in which they can get the message about drugs across to young vulnerable people. That will include using teachers in their authoritative positions and anyone from outside a school whom the school considers to be appropriate for its pupils to listen to and be guided by. We want to leave as much of the strategy as possible to the schools to decide, within the framework and the guidance that we have offered them in support. I am confident that that will happen.