After many months of preparation we finally had the opportunity to roll out our Alcohol Awareness pilot project this week.
Held in Inverkeithing High School over Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th January 2010 the project saw almost 200 S2 (age 13) pupils carry out a ‘groundbreaking‘* alcohol awareness course lasting 1 hour and 45 mins.
Months in the making and developed and run by Stephen (tw: StephenDoBe), the project was designed in such a way as to encourage pupils to want to talk freely as a group, without fear or bravado about their experiences with alcohol so far. As a subject tackled in PSE classes it was initially judged that this kind of exercise rarely worked in such an open forum and was generally dominated by those who had a certain sense of pride in their experiences.
We designed the course with this in mind and as a result we created a three session approach:
Session 1, carried out before the christmas break was designed to cover subjects like Identity, Motivation and Decision Making. The material covered helped pupils to open up to questions such as ‘Who am I?‘, ‘What are choices?‘, ‘What are my choices‘, ’How and why do I make decisions?‘, ‘What do I want…from school, home, society, life?‘ and much more.
Session 2 followed on from these themes with a specific angle on alcohol awareness. It was made clear that ‘Alcohol Awareness‘ is not about a pupils ability to identify Cider from Spirits but about the importance of having a good, rounded knowledge of all aspects of alcohol. The positive attributes and of course the negative ones.
We started this session with an informal group chat about alcohol, collecting fact, fallacy and opinion along the way (some findings can be found at the end of this blog). A series of short videos were produced by the Creative Services team at Do Be to highlight the particular themes of this subject. Pupils watched the videos and then discussed the nature of each scene and the benefits or consequences of each action shown. It’s important to highlight here that, as with the rest of the material that the videos were not designed to run with the idea that if a pupil drinks alcohol they will face extreme and often life threatening consequences or that there will be no consequences at all. We designed them to give the pupils complete freedom of thought and expression on reflection.
Session 3 has been finished and is expected to run in March 2010 but will be discussed in a fresh blog post then.
Here are some of the findings we collated while in discussion with almost 200 S2 (age 13 pupils):
• 100% have tried alcohol
• Around 40% have been ‘drunk‘
• 1 in 5 have been ‘very drunk‘ with consequences – Sickness, hangover, parental upset, police intervention, violence, accident, embarrassment.
• Almost all have tried alcohol with their parents
• As many as 5 in each group of 30 have been drunk ‘with‘ their parents!
• Those who drink ‘regularly‘ could tell me exactly where to get alcohol easily and for what cost
• Jargon is a good way of disguising the nature of an alcohol related conversation in front of teachers and parents – ‘a 3 bomb‘ is a 3 ltr bottle of Cider
• One girl admitted that a 3 ltr bottle of Cider purchased at 6pm was finished (by her alone) by 8pm, with dire consequences!
• S2 pupils claim ‘peer pressure‘ s the number one reason to drink followed by ‘the media and social norms‘ then ‘ease of access and cost‘
• General opinion is that ‘drink‘ and ‘drunk‘ are the same word…’there is no sensible way to drink‘, ‘you drink to get drunk‘
• Almost all pupils claim that ‘alcohol tastes good‘ then follow this with statements such as ‘as long as it’s apple flavour‘ or ‘the orange ones taste best‘
The course so far has been deemed a huge success by both the pupils and the staff at Inverkeithing with talks of a roll out already taking place. PSE and other subject teachers were amazed at the response from pupils and are planning to build a series of alcohol related lessons around the videos we provided.
The videos have been loaded onto our Learn-It MP4 Players and will be used by pupils to revisit the themes of the project whenever they wish.
If you would like to know more or be a part of our Alcohol Awareness workshops please call us to arrange a meeting.
We welcome any school or authority interested in running a project like this.
* Quote from the ‘Fife Alcohol Partnership’ and ‘Diageo’
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