School drug support examined

Helping schools help pupils . . . Part of the workshop on a whole school approach to drugs and alcohol are (from left) school-based drug policy adviser Kim Gotlieb, Mirror Services director Deb Fraser and Odyssey and New Zealand Drug Foundation national youth services adviser Ben Birks Ang. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

While most pupils are exposed to drugs and alcohol outside school, it is important for schools to be equipped to deal with issues that may arise from them, a national youth services adviser says.

About 30 people, from community representatives to school staff, attended a workshop called A Whole School Approach to Alcohol and Other Drugs in our School Communities last Thursday.

The focus of the workshop was on effective responses to supporting pupils with alcohol and other drug-related problems within the education system.

Mirror Services director Deb Fraser said it was important to have conversations with pupils about drug and alcohol use as there was a lot of mixed information about it.

Last year, the Ministry of Education commissioned Dr Jenny Roberts to do an independent review of alcohol and other drug education in schools, and her review outlined the need for “taking a whole school approach”.

Ms Fraser said the whole school approach “enhances student achievement, engagement and retention” and helped them “feel they belong and are valued”.

New Zealand Drug Foundation and Odyssey House national youth services adviser Ben Birks Ang said although pupils were exposed to drugs and alcohol outside of school, the consequences were often something schools had to deal with.

While previously schools may have been isolated with the issues, it was important to have support from the community, he said.

It was a “community effort” to keep young people safe and there was value in working in partnership, he said.

The initiative was organised by Mirror Services and Public Health South.