UK

Teach 10-Year-Olds About Drugs In Schools, Says Government Advisor Professor Simon Gibbons

11/04/2014 19:34 BST | Updated 11/04/2014 19:59 BST
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Chris Ryan via Getty Images

Drugs education for children as young as 10 should be broadened, one of the Government's chief drug advisers has said.

Professor Simon Gibbons, a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), told a public hearing that more needs to be done on drugs education in primary and middle schools.

The subject of drugs does not form part of the National Curriculum at primary level, although it is at a school's discretion to include it within the teaching of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.

Gibbons, a professor of medicinal phytochemistry at University College London (UCL), said: "As chairman of the committee, I would certainly like to see more done on the education done in primary settings.

"We had a discussion last week at our committee and we want the Department of Education to be involved in this.

"I always use this as a 'little girl' test. I have two young daughters who are eight and 10 and the elder one is certainly at that age when she is starting to be aware of some of these materials.

"At the primary/middle school phase there's not enough information on drug education for 10, 11, 12-year-olds - that's something we should be pushing for."

Gibbons is the chairman of the Novel Psychoactive Substances Committee within the ACMD.

Drug education can form part of personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lessons, which are given to five to 16-year-olds.

However, PSHE is non-statutory and it is down to headteachers to determine how much of the lessons are dedicated to the subject of drugs.

In the past, campaigners, such as Mitch Winehouse, the father of pop star Amy Winehouse, have called for compulsory drug and alcohol education in schools.

Winehouse has previously said his daughter may still be alive had she been educated about drugs and in 2012 launched an e-petition calling for such lessons to be part of the National Curriculum.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Both the old and the new curriculum are clear that all pupils should be taught about drugs and drug misuse.

"The new curriculum makes clear that from Year 6, pupils must be taught how drugs and other substances can be harmful to the human body.

"The science curriculum also covers how recreational drugs can affect people's health and lifestyle.

"Teachers are also free to use their professional judgment to address any specific issues that meet the needs of

their pupils through PSHE.

"We are working with the PSHE Association to help teachers talk about these issues with pupils in the most effective and sensitive way."