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. This module is Ideally delivered 6 months to 1 year after the Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis Module.
The Climate Schools: Psychostimulant and Cannabis Module was developed for 14-15 year olds and aims to prevent and reduce drug 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. Through the storyline, students learn different drug classifications and their effects, the short and long term consequences of psychostimulants and cannabis, how to identify drug-related risk and stay safe, communication styles and being assertive, problem-solving skills, legal implications of drug use, and how to get help. 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 knowledge of cannabis and psychostimulants
- Decreases pro-drug attitudes
- Reduces cannabis use frequency in female students.
Benefits of the Climate Schools Psychostimulant & Cannabis Module have been demonstrated in Australia in the following research study:
Vogl, L. E., Newton, N. C., Champion, K. E., & Teesson, M. (2014). A universal harm-minimisation approach to preventing psychostimulant and cannabis use in adolescents: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 9, 24.
The Climate Schools programs received 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.