Children as young as three could soon be given lessons on the dangers of substance misuse, under preliminary plans drawn up by local councils in Tayside.
A document circulated among council officers details how a “3-18 Curricular Framework” is being developed around the topic of drug abuse.
The education plan will give teachers “clear guidance on age and stage appropriate information” on drug abuse. It could go as far as giving school staff details on support services to pass on to children.
The proposals have been drawn up by Dundee City, Angus and Perth and Kinross councils, along with experts at NHS Tayside, but teachers will be consulted to ensure it is fit for purpose.
Drugs policy experts have welcomed the proposals.
Dave Barrie, service manager at Addaction Dundee, said it was “really positive” to see a strategy being formed around the topic of drugs in education.
He added that there are ways of broaching the subject of substance misuse with younger children without explicitly talking about drugs.
“The learning has to be age-appropriate,” he said.
“With younger people, they’re really just starting to open up conversations around (substances).
“You can introduce the ideas – the concepts – around substance misuse and build confidence.
“You’re not completely veering away from the topic.
“Substance misuse affects most families in some way or another and we have serious problems with it, both in Dundee and nationally. It’s a big part of our society so having a clear strategy is a really good thing.”
Paul North, of think-tank Volteface, which advocates progressive drug policy, said the educational framework was “light years ahead”.
Mr North, a former substance misuse manager and educator, said: “We know from research that young people need open, honest and engaging interventions to best protect themselves from taking drugs.
“The ‘just say no’ approach or scare tactics to deter is simply not enough and proven to be ineffective.
“Any programme which provides young people with information about support services and facts they need about drugs is light years ahead of the majority of the UK.”
All three local authorities confirmed to the Tele they were involved, and did not deny that children as young as three could be taught about drugs.
Dundee City Council said the framework would be delivered in an “age-appropriate way”.
A spokesman added: “The framework is still in the development stage and discussions are continuing with teaching staff and partners across the area.”
A spokesman for Angus Council added: “We have been involved in what is a good piece of work that builds on current practice around health and healthy choices for young learners.”
Perth and Kinross Council said: “We can confirm we are involved in the development of the Tayside-wide 3-18 Curricular Framework and are carrying out a consultation process with staff.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside confirmed the health service was involved in the policy’s creation, adding: “When completed, the framework will provide a planning structure which can be used to develop learning experiences, and these will be delivered in line with the Experiences and Outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence.”
The Scottish Government, the architect of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) education policy, said councils had free reign on shaping their education policies.
A spokesman said: “Health and wellbeing is a core strand of CfE and it is for local authorities and schools to decide how best to deliver it based on local needs.”