The story begins in autumn 2001 with a partnership project involving a business solutions company, two LEAs, a countywide police force and the creators of D.A.R.E. programmes in the UK. It grew to include 12 schools, 330 6-7 year old children, their teachers and support staff, a university department and an artist. Out of this partnership, over the next year, ‘On Track’ was developed.
‘On Track’ is a short but focused programme which is at the start of a much longer track, one which all the children have to take to ensure that they grow up in an increasingly drug using world, confidently, knowledgeably and responsibly, able to recognise potential dangers and deal positively with persuasion and pressure; this is a major theme that runs throughout the material and on to Keep On Track.
‘On Track’ is not a programme about drug abuse nor about illegal substances and the possible consequences. These are issues for older children as they move through their PSHCE curriculum at later key stages.
They will be learning that all medicines are drugs but not all drugs are medicines, that medicines have drugs in them and that these are helpful drugs which change what is happening inside people’s bodies and help them to get better.
They will be learning that different people need different helpful drugs in their medicines; that these helpful drugs are dangerous if used wrongly or by the wrong people; that many of these medicines have to have a doctor’s prescription and be dispensed by a pharmacist while others can be bought over the counter.
They will be learning that there are drugs in tobacco and alcohol that some people choose to use are harmful, as are volatile and other misused substances. ‘On Track’ does not fall into the trap of describing medicines as ‘good’ and drugs as ‘bad’, which we see as simplistic and potentially dangerous.
Are we On Track - How do you analyse the children’s responses and what do you get?
The research tool, a Draw and Write strategy called The World of Drugs, which has become known nationally as ‘jugs and herrings’, was devised by the author of ‘On Track’. It has been used nationally and internationally since 1990 with over 150,000 children aged 4-13.
The drawing activity helps to set the scene for the children before they are asked to write statements to explain what they have drawn. Children are given the option of writing for themselves or dictating to a scribe. Teachers in the project schools reported that rather than it being a testing situation, the children enjoyed taking part in the research strategy, both before and after the lessons, how willing and able they were to share their views and how involved they felt in discovering how these views had changed.
The programme begins with asking the children to get ‘On Track’ to being safe and sure. It ends with a celebration that they have achieved their first target, the end of the track. It asks them to devise ways of sharing their celebrations and of ensuring they stay ‘On Track’, helping others to do this.
Following on at the start of Key Stage 2 we have available the follow up programme Keep On Track which builds upon the work carried out on this course. This programme is available for free as well.
‘On Track’ provides you with a significant component of your PSHCE curriculum and a strong strand in achieving your Healthy Schools Standard.
‘On Track’ emphasises lifeskills: challenging others’ views, justifying their own, greater awareness of risk, anticipating actions and outcomes, recognising and dealing with persuasion and pressure, communicating concerns, taking increasing responsibility, forward planning and reflection, better understanding of health services and how keeping healthy can conserve these resources.
These are skills transferable to all areas of PSHCE.
All the sessions provide both context and motivation for extending literacy skills, listening, speaking, reading, shared and personal writing, categorising, summarising, differentiation, forward planning, setting targets and evaluating progress.
Throughout the programme children share, distil and summarise their ideas. You can record these for them on the board or flip chart.
Vocabulary collected in this way provides the children with support for their own writing.
This programme can also be linked to other areas of the National Curriculum such as: art, science and numeracy.
DARE to be safe and healthy.