Compass Nottingham’s Drugaware Success
The Compass Nottingham DrugAware project has seen more children and young people referred into treatment sooner. The DrugAware Award supports schools in going just one step further in terms of their PHSE curriculum planning, bringing schools and communities together in order to become fully DrugAware.
The impact of the project has been significant. Since the start of the project in 2009, referrals into structured drug treatment from educational settings have increased by 327% against the 2009/10 baseline. The improved process saw the project exceed its lifetime target figure of 100 educational referrals 10 months ahead of trajectory, this equates to a 98% improvement in the numbers referred.
Whilst the positive change in the number of referrals is hugely encouraging, it is the demographic shift that most encourages Nina Crofts, Compass Nottingham Young People Manager. “We have been able to identify more children at a younger age, engage a wider ethnic mix of children and see a greater numbers of girls, all of whom are significantly under-represented in treatment. Positive outcomes for this group include planned discharges and less time required in treatment, in comparison with those not in a school setting.”
The two additional Education Link Workers funded through the DrugAware project have been key to this success. Working in partnership with Nottingham City Council’s Children and Families Drug Advisor they have helped identify early signs of risky behaviour, undertaken assessments with the child / family and provided a clear referral process into treatment. This has been supplemented by the provision of additional training and support to school nurses, teachers, and teaching assistants to enable them to assess the needs of young people using the local Ngage Toolkit and to better work with children struggling with substance misuse issues.
As a result of their involvement, referrals have been at an earlier stage, treatment time has been shortened (average treatment time is four months for education referrals, compared to five months for Youth Offending Team referrals) and success rates have been higher (rates of drug free completion are at 62% in education referrals, compared to 21% for YOT referrals). Repeat referrals are also lower: in 2009/10 only 4% of the Education Link referrals returned to the service more than once, compared to 46% of the YOT referrals. The approximate cost saving equates to £756 for every education-referred young person, compared to YOT-referred.
Thirty nine schools have signed up to the DrugAware Award with nine schools achieving DrugAware status so far and 180 teachers trained. This equates to over 17,000 pupils receiving a needs-based, enhanced curriculum around substance and alcohol use.
Case Study: Hadden Park High School
Hadden Park High School is working towards the DrugAware Standard and promotes drug education as an integral part of their PSHE syllabus. Hadden Park’s Education link Worker, Claire McCann, has seen a number of clear and appropriate referrals into the service since the school signed up to the Award.
“Whilst supporting young people in this school I have noticed a marked difference in the knowledge that young people have around drugs and alcohol, they appear very well informed and when I ask students where they have acquired this knowledge they tell me that they have learnt it in PSHE.
A school Drug Advisor also noted, “Schools are showing increased quality in both their planning and delivery of responsive drugs education in schools. A notable example is that the D-Vibe survey is consistently showing that children under 12 are consuming a worrying amount of caffeine, unaware that it is a drug with potential risks and effects on their mood and performance. Where this is found to be the case, schools are now adding lessons to their curriculum to address this issue which has been previously ignored.”
“The award has enabled whole school communities to really energise themselves positively around the issue of substances with their association with a brand that raises confidence that children are safer and more resilient.”
A Year 4 pupil at Edna G Olds Primary and Nursery School, Lenton, Nottingham said “I’m getting more DrugAware – I’m the boss of my body and I don’t want drugs in it now – or when I am bigger.”