Life skills lessons double pupils' ability to make safe choices

Children who receive drug and life skills lessons in school are significantly more prepared to make safe and responsible choices than those who do not receive the classes, according to an evaluation published today.

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Life skills lessons double pupils' ability to make safe choices

Children who receive drug and life skills lessons in school are significantly more prepared to make safe and responsible choices than those who do not receive the classes, according to an evaluation published today.

Life Skills Education CIC, which runs the D.A.R.E. programme across the UK and with British forces schools in Germany, Cyprus and the Falklands, commissioned Professor Andromachi Tseloni from Nottingham Trent University and Dr Emily Evans of the University of Nottingham to conduct the first ever evaluation of its UK primary programme across the East Midlands.

It assessed the extent to which the current UK D.A.R.E. Primary programme achieves its learning objectives, which are to enable pupils to improve levels of knowledge around drugs and other substances, improve communication and listening skills, get help from others, assess the risks and consequences of their behaviour, make safe and responsible choices and deal with bullying, peer pressure and personal stress.

The results showed that the programme improved pupils' reported communication and listening skills by up to 4.7 times, doubled their ability to make safe and responsible choices and improved their readiness to get help from others (excluding the police) by 4.5 times.

Those pupils who received the D.A.R.E. lessons also scored more highly when assessed on their knowledge about drugs, alcohol and substance abuse – 35% higher than those who did not receive the D.A.R.E. programme.

Prof Tseloni said: "Overall the evaluation evidences that the D.A.R.E. Primary programme delivered in the UK has an uncontested positive effect on half the learning outcomes it aims to achieve."

Prof Tseloni, who is associated with the University's Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families and leads the Quantitative and Spatial Criminology Research Group, was supported by Dr Evans. Together they analysed the results of two surveys of nearly 1,500 pupils aged 9 to 11 from 51 schools across the East Midlands.

They surveyed two groups – those who received the D.A.R.E. intervention and those who were due to receive it later. The online questionnaire was sent to the same pupils in both groups twice – once before the intervention and then again afterwards.

The D.A.R.E. Primary programme delivered in the UK has an uncontested positive effect on half the learning outcomes it aims to achieve.
The D.A.R.E. Primary programme delivered in the UK has an uncontested positive effect on half the learning outcomes it aims to achieve.
Professor Andromachi Tseloni, NTU

She said further work would be needed to establish which was the best way to deliver the programme – either fully by external D.A.R.E. officers, a combination of officer and teacher-led delivery or entirely teacher-led.

Peter Moyes, Chief Executive Officer at Life Skills Education CIC, said the results added independent rigour to testing what they have been hearing anecdotally from parents, teachers and pupils for a number of years.

"We will study this report and use it in our refresh to ensure we keep all that is good and adjust where we can be even better.

"We know that we have the right balance between skill development and knowledge. We know that the decision making model D.A.R.E. is used by pupils and is effective in helping them deal with risky situations. We know that we can apply our model to other behaviours such as sexual conduct and Internet use."

He said he wanted the evaluation to be used to help those working within Personal, social, health and economic education to evidence that there are real interventions which work and that it is not just "a tick box approach to dealing with a significant issue."

The evaluation was paid for through College of Policing funding which was applied for by both Nottinghamshire Police, who have a long association with D.A.R.E, as well as Life Skills Education CIC.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said: "Knowledge is power and what this study demonstrates is that if we equip our young people with the understanding they need to make good, responsible choices about their lives, then they are more likely to do so.

"Education has a pivotal role to play when it comes to early intervention and the prevention of crime and I very much welcome this research."

The results of the evaluation report will be presented on 8 July at the British Society of Criminology Conference being held at Nottingham Conference Centre.

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    • Nottingham Trent University’s five-year strategic plan "Creating the University of the Future" has five main ambitions: Creating Opportunity, Valuing Ideas, Enriching Society, Connecting Globally and Empowering People.
    • The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was awarded to Nottingham Trent University in November 2015. It is the highest national honour for a UK university and recognises the institution’s world-class research. Pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula, and combat food fraud, led to the prestigious award.

Life skills lessons double pupils' ability to make safe choices

Published on 6 July 2016
  • Category: Research

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