On Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th November 2015, all Year 8 pupils took part in drugs awareness workshops as part of their Citizenship (PSHE) curriculum. Pupils were educated on legal and illegal drugs, legal highs and the biological effects of drugs. Workshops were led by school teachers and PCSO Matthew Grimwood from Essex Police. The workshops were designed to be honest, informative as well as leaving no uncertainties as to the risks associated with the use of drugs. Pupils were given up to date information on specific substances that have been a concern to health and law enforcement agencies including nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and alcohol. A small number of school governors also sat in and observed the workshops.
On the Wednesday, Paul Hannaford spoke to all pupils in the Hall about his real life experiences with drugs. This graphic and provocative presentation included Paul’s account of how he started on ‘softer’ drugs before his life descended into heavy abuse of many substances leaving his family relationships devastated by his theft and deceit. Although now recovering for some years from the drug abuse, Paul’s family relationships are scarred by his actions. Pupils were also told of the health implications of drug abuse on Paul. He showed them the damage to his ulcerated legs, caused by years of injecting drugs and how he nearly lost his leg but for the maggots used to clean his wound from dead and infected flesh.
Nick Hills (Head of Citizenship) who organised the day said, “The message from the workshops and Paul’s talk were to make it very clear the risks individuals take if they decide to use drugs. This educational experience was designed to give pupils the knowledge and understanding needed to make informed choices about their health. I’m sure that most pupils would conclude from the information they received that the dangers and risks of drug abuse far outweigh any possible benefit. I am very pleased with the organisation of the days and, although Paul’s presentation and some workshop content was hard for some pupils to confront, the workshops were well received. My thanks goes to Matthew, Paul and the school staff for making this event a success as well as to the Year 8 pupils who handled this challenging theme with such maturity and sensitivity”