Climate Schools was developed by researchers formerly based at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), School of Psychiatry, and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use at UNSW Sydney, and currently based at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, Australia.
This curriculum-based online program is designed to be administered by teachers within classrooms. The program involves 6 x 45-minute lessons, each with two components:
- A 15-minute computer-based component
- Teacher delivered classroom activities.
No specialist teacher training is required. Booster sessions are also available.
The Climate Schools: Alcohol Module was developed for 13-14 year olds and aims to prevent and reduce alcohol use and related harms. Designed to be implemented within the school health curriculum, Climate Schools is based on a social influence approach to prevention and uses cartoon storylines to engage and maintain student interest and involvement.
Students follow six episodes of an online cartoon-based drama about teenagers and their experiences with alcohol. Through the storyline, students learn about underage drinking and the law, standard drink measurements, prevalence of drinking among 13-14 year olds, societal pressures to drink, short and long term consequences of drinking, drug refusal skills and how to respond in an alcohol-related medical emergency. Each episode ends with a short quiz to assess and consolidate learning. The class and homework activities are designed to reinforce the material taught in the cartoon and encourage students to apply the preventative messages and skills. Feedback indicates that teachers and students enjoy the program, and implementation within the classroom environment is highly feasible.
Training and Costs
There are costs associated with the Climate Schools programs. Refer to the website for registration and subscription details.
- Increases alcohol knowledge
- Reduces alcohol consumption
- Reduces binge drinking.
Benefits of the Climate Schools: Alcohol Module have been demonstrated in Australia in three randomised control trials:
Teesson, M., Newton, N. C., Slade, T., Carragher, N., Barrett, E. L., Champion, K. E., Kelly, E. V., Nair, N. K., Stapinski, L. A., Conrod, P. J. (2017). Combined universal and selective prevention for adolescent alcohol use: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 47, 1761-1770.
Newton, N. C., Vogl, L. E., Teesson, M., & Andrews, G. (2009). CLIMATE Schools: alcohol module: cross-validation of a school-based prevention programme for alcohol misuse. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 201-207.
Vogl, L., Teesson, M., Andrews, G., Bird, K., Steadman, B., & Dillon, P. (2009). A computerized harm minimization prevention program for alcohol misuse and related harms: randomized controlled trial. Addiction, 104, 564-575.
The Climate Schools programs recieved a three-star rating from the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) following their comprehensive systematic review of alcohol education programs. Climate School was the only Australian program to receive the maximum evidence rating.
The Climate Schools programs were recognised at the 2014 Society of Mental Health Research conference with the Australian Rotary Health Knowledge Dissemination award.