Drugs guidanceThe Department of Education is firmly committed to tackling the increasing problem of the availability and use of illegal drugs.
Schools have a key role to play in ensuring that young people understand the risks involved and have the confidence, knowledge and skills to avoid them. They have a have a major contribution to make in discouraging drug misuse, encouraging positive attitudes and self-esteem, and promoting healthy lifestyles. Schools alone cannot, of course, solve the problem of drug misuse in society, but the implementation of an effective programme of drug education in all schools is an essential step in tackling it.
It is a statutory requirement for every grant-aided school to have in place a drugs education policy.
Drugs education is provided in the revised curriculum which is taught to all pupils of compulsory school age in grant-aided schools. In primary schools, pupils have opportunities to learn about keeping themselves healthy and safe through the Personal Health element of the Personal Development and Mutual Understanding area of learning.
In post-primary schools, pupils have opportunities to learn how to look after their health and well-being, keep safe and cope with their environment, and explore the risks and consequences of the misuse of drugs through the Personal Development element of the Learning for Life and Work area of learning.
CCEA Guidance - Drugs: Guidance for Schools in Northern Ireland
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) published guidance in 2004 for schools on the nature and extent of drugs misuse here and their role in addressing the problem. It was prepared in consultation with primary and post-primary teachers, the Education and Library Boards and the former Health Promotion Agency (now the Public Health Agency – PHA).
You can view the guidance and the associated Circular from the Department below.
Contents PDF 303 KB
Section 1: Drugs Policy and Education PDF 2.05 MB
Section 2: Guidance on managing suspected drugs related incidents PDF 1.09 MB
Appendices 1 - 3 PDF 1.81 MB
Appendix 4 PDF 3.46 MB
Appendix 5 PDF 2.85 MB
Appendices 6 - 11 PDF 0.99 MB
Appendices 12 - 14 PDF 3.12 MB
Note: The Department is working with CCEA with a view to reviewing and updating this guidance.
The former Education Minister wrote to all grant-aided schools on 2 June 2010 reminding them about their responsibilities in relation to the prevention of drugs misuse (through drugs education programmes) and the protection of young people (through each school's drugs education policy). You can view the former Minister's letter by using the following link:
New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs Phase 2
Drugs and alcohol policy sits within the remit of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS). In 2005 DHSSPS led the development of a cross-sectoral strategy that sought to reduce the harm related to both alcohol and drug misuse here. The Department of Education was represented on the steering group formed to develop the strategy. DHSSPS launched this strategy, entitled the New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs (NSD), in 2006.
Originally, the NSD had a five-year life span. However, in 2011, the existing NSD was reviewed, revised, and extended until 2016. The final document was approved by the NI Executive in December 2011 and launched by the Health Minister on 26 January 2012. The NSD Phase 2 document is available online at: