School-based drug education in Northeast Scotland - policy, planning and practice
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This research utilised qualitative methods to gain a deeper insight into the policy, planning and practice of school-based drug education than had previously been achieved in Scotland. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with staff in nine Grampian secondary schools together with a case study of one school. The case study involved direct lesson observations as well as in-depth interviews and feedback sessions with stakeholders in drug education including staff and 48 pupils. In both parts of the study schools were selected by theoretical sampling, each interview was transcribed in full and all data were annotated and analysed with the aid of specialist computer software. Validity and reliability were enhanced by constant vigilance in data analysis and by various procedures including reactivity analysis, peer examination,triangulation and consideration of any potential bias on the part of the researcher. The highest standards of ethics were applied throughout the study. Whereas previous studies have revealed the lack of impact of drug education on drugtaking behaviour in young people, this research is unique in attempting to explain this lack of impact. The research findings revealed that teaching and learning processes in drug education were below best practice as defined by the relevant research literature and national guidelines. Four key underlying issues were identified: (1) A lack of clarity and understanding about the goals of drug education;( 2) A lack of time and support for researching, planning and reviewing drug education; (3) A low priority assigned to Personal and Social Education (PSE) in general; (4) A failure to recognise drug education as a broad and complex subject requiring considerable expertise to teach. Fundamental changes to how drug education is approached both locally and nationally would be required to resolve these issues in full. Ihe nature of these changes is discussed in detail in the thesis.