There are a number of ways in which education on addiction prevention is addressed in schools. Schools have a role in supporting students to develop the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make informed choices when faced with a range of difficult issues, including drugs.
This is mainly done through the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme, which has a specific module on the use and misuse of a range of substances. SPHE is mandatory in all primary schools as well as in Junior Cycle. Schools are also encouraged to deliver the SPHE programme in the senior cycle.
SPHE aims to provide a range of generic skills such as communicating, making decisions, knowing where to find reliable data, belonging and integrating, expressing feelings and emotions, substance abuse, resisting peer pressure, personal safety, values and mutual respect. The personal safety strand of the SPHE curriculum in year 3 of Junior Cycle provides specifically for recognising unsafe situations.
Schools also have access to a number of resources to support the delivery of the substance use module of SPHE. Examples include the "Walk Tall" Programme for primary pupils developed by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and a post-primary resource called "On My Own Two Feet", published by my Department. The new 'Know the Score' programme is a substance misuse programme published in 2019 for Transition Year or 5th year pupils. It was jointly developed by the HSE, my Department and the Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces.