Never has drug education in schools been so necessary with latest figures showing that a staggering 20%-25% of 11-15 year old children in the UK have tried illegal drugs. That figure doubles with 16-24 year olds.
It is clear that the old "JUST SAY NO" approach does not work and with the escalating strengths and new strains of drugs hitting the streets, combined with the decreasing cost of drugs and the ever increasing number and widespread availability of "legal highs," effective drug education is of paramount importance .
So, what is "effective" drugs education? The difficulty is getting the balance right between dispelling the myths, teaching the facts and maintaining the perception of freedom of choice. This is where Simon excels. His hard hitting, fast-paced and interactive talks keep his audiences engaged, involved and enthralled throughout. From individual classes to entire year groups the feedback is always the same:
"Simon's talk was much better than any previous drug education I got at school."
North London Collegiate 6th Form Pupil.
"You inspired a student at school on just another Thursday afternoon."
Bishop's Stortford College Lower 6th Form Student.
"That was the best assembly we've ever had. Can he come back?"
North Bridge House Senior School Pupil.
Education is the key to curb the binge culture amongst teens today, limit the damage caused by misleading and dangerous websites and reduce the number of drug induced mental health issues, hospital admissions and deaths caused by the use of recreational drugs.
Simon also conducts evening presentations to parent groups to keep parents abreast of what their child is learning, thus promoting open discussions at home. This also gives parents the opportunity to ask questions to alleviate their growing fears caused by the often tragic drug-related stories frequently reported in the media.
Simon has been invited to run 2 seminars at the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference (HMC) in Scotland in October 2015.
"I would like to recommend Simon Leigh to schools or groups who are involved in educating young people about drugs. The session, run by Simon, that I attended was an extraordinary experience. As a presenter, he was engaging, informative and had the authenticity of someone who knew the dangers of drugs from first-hand experience. His message came across in vivid form that certainly caused the pupils to think carefully about the implication of ever taking drugs. A highly effective session." Martin Biltcliffe, Head of Drama.
"Simon's talk is hard hitting... He delivers important facts about a wide range of drugs without preaching." Anonymous teacher.
"I found Simon's talk authentic, touching, and informative. Starting from his own life experience, with excellent communication skills, Simon shares his vast professional and technical knowledge with his audience in a very approachable and effective way, making his talk very suited to engaging young minds and very useful for parents too. I strongly recommend it." Lorreta McGregor, Parent.
"There are few times when a visiting speaker to your school manages to capture the attention and focus of students from Year 11 to the Upper Sixth for a presentation - even fewer that can manage this successfully for an hour and a half! Simon spoke brilliantly to our students, engaging them, educating them and freely speaking of his own experiences. The students were so taken by the presentation that not only did they thank him afterwards but they voluntarily told me how brilliant they had found the talk - even more importantly they discussed and debated the issues raised for days afterwards which indicated how much they had been made to think about the issues raised. Never condescending, judgemental or preaching in what was communicated Simon must be one of the best speakers on drugs and addiction in the country and certainly the finest that I have ever heard. Not only that but his presentation to parents was equally invaluable both educating them and answering questions or concerns - the fact that he told the parents exactly what he had told the students meant that there were many meaningful conversations over the dinner table in the homes of the families of our school. Simply superb in every respect - I cannot recommend Simon enough." Toby Hughes, Deputy Head.
"Great talk. Combined objective detail with personal (and well considered) opinion, humour and relatable anecdotes.....Would highly recommend bringing him back." Anonymous 6th form student.
"I thought he was excellent. He was engaging...despite the serious topic involved he still managed to prevent it from being overwhelming...He treated us like intelligent people and was not patronising which is often a problem with talks like this. I had reservations regarding this talk initially so it was a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be very worthwhile." Anonymous 6th form student.
"I thought his talk was by far the most interesting and engaging of all the talks we’ve had. I definitely think other year groups would enjoy it too." Anonymous 6th form student.
"I thought it was really useful to have a talk about drugs that focused more on facts and scientific studies than a more biased approach. Simon was very interesting and sharing his own experience was incredible to listen to." Anonymous 6th form student.
"The talk was very insightful. I feel more aware of the risks that come with street drugs. It was good to see someone who actually struggled with a drug addiction and managed to overcome it." Anonymous 6th form student.
"High paced and interactive" Anonymous 6th form student.
"The way in which you spoke had me hanging on every word...Your efforts to warn us of just a few of the things which could happen with drugs will undoubtedly be remembered and are firmly remaining in my head...You inspired a student at school on just another Thursday afternoon." Lower 6th Form Student
"I thought your speech was amazing. It really helped me learn more about drugs - I found I didn't know as much as I thought I did. You made it interesting & shocking...We needed someone to come in and tell us the harsh realities of drug taking and that's exactly what you did...I hope you come back to the college to do more lectures." Lower 6th Form Student
"Your lecture was informative, engaging and most importantly delivered with genuine passion and integrity...Information from someone who has actually 'been there and done that' has far more resonance than it would if delivered by someone from our staff." Dan Brown, Head of Year 13.
"I thought your talk was great...it was interesting and gave everyone the facts...I think you're really inspirational...if that doesn't make people think twice next time I'm not sure what will!" Student.
"Simon never fails to engage our Year 10 students with his talk on drugs and drug addiction. The key for me is that he is never patronising, and injects his talk with humour so that his audience is put at their ease. The message about how dangerous drugs can be is clear throughout, but at the same time Simon's presentation does not feel like a "nag" - which can so often be the case with talks about drugs. As one Year 10 student put it "I'd much rather hear from Simon with his wealth of experience than one of our teachers or our parents." A great talk from a great speaker." Susannah Gilham, Head of Senior School.
"You spoke at my daughter's school yesterday... Your accounts of your experiences and your words had a profound effect on her... she came home deeply struck by your talk." Anonymous Parent.
"The boys have almost universally found the content of the discussions and his approach to be beneficial and informative...It has proved to be very useful having somebody who is not a teacher or not closely connected to the school to talk to the children." Craig Watson, Deputy Head.
"There is no doubt that the power of his words will have had an effect on the way that those addressed perceive drug abuse...Feedback from pupils and parents was universally positive...I would be happy to recommend Simon to any school which is seeking to put on this kind of event" Helen Lawson, Head of RE and PSHE.
"The session lasted for 2 hours and the pace never dropped for a moment!" Simon Stringer, Deputy Head.
"Simon's energy and enthusiasm created an atmosphere in the room that maintained the interest of the 250 students. His mix of accurate scientific facts, humour and honest reality allowed students to really gain a handle on the difficult issues involved...The buzz and atmosphere leaving the hall amongst the students leads me to conclude that today will have an impact on the choices they make in the future." Andrew Barnard, Director of 16-19 Education.
"The talks were very well received by staff and students alike and we feel that your manner and approach were extremely well judged...you were consummately professional throughout...We look forward to the possibility of working with you again." Philip Rush, Deputy Headteacher.
"I think the boys, especially, gained from listening to you and we look forward to you coming in again during the next academic year" Vivian Thomas, Headmaster.
"Simon has given talks to Years 9, 10 and 12 and the feedback from all years was very positive. His talks were engaging and very informative with a comprehensive overview of the facts concerning a wide range of drugs and the consequences of addiction...the girls found his story compelling." Barbara Pomeroy, Deputy Head.
"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive...As a school we would be more than willing to endorse you." Emma Duggan, Teacher.
"Simon's talk was much better than any previous drug education I got at school, it was much more memorable." Student.
"Effective, informative and credible." Student.
"Well pitched, I learnt new things." Student.
"Simon has visited North Bridge House Prep School on two occasions...The subject of the first talk was addiction and the second was drug taking. Both presentations were very well delivered and the boys learnt a lot, which led to many thought provoking questions...We would recommend him as he knows his subject matter well and pitches the talk at the children's level...We look forward to booking Simon again next year." Brodie Bibby, Headmaster.
"The students found the talk original in its approach and more effective than previous ones...They found the content relevant to their age group and they loved how frank you were... They appreciated being able to ask a lot of questions and never found you patronising." Lexi Spheris, Biology Teacher.
"That was the best assembly we've ever had. Can he come back?" NBH Senior School Pupil.
"Simon discussed the facts of drug abuse at the right level for the pupil audience without diminishing the serious message of the terrible impact a drug addiction can have on anyone's life. An essential lesson for all young people in today's society." Nicola Nicoll, Head of Science
"Simon shared a message that was factually raw and pastorally sensitive. The students were engaged and left reflective by the integrity and honesty that Simon brought." Adam Whitlock, Head of Religion, Philosophy & Ethics
"Simon gave a very informative and thought provoking talk to staff, parents and pupils at my school... He was able to give up to date information about the whole area of drug taking, the law and the effects of addiction... I can firmly recommend any school to book Simon as soon as they can." Edwin Brown, Headmaster, Quainton Hall Prep School
"I just wanted to say thank you because it was nice to have a talk about drugs that wasn't encouraging us not to take them but telling us the facts about exactly what will happen if you do... so often I can feel patronised by adults talking about drugs but the way you do it is informative and interesting and I got a lot from it." Anonymous 6th from student
"I thought that your speech was moving, inspiring and motivational... The way you communicated with all the students was exceptional." Anonymous student
"On behalf of my school I would like to congratulate you on the way you tackled the lecture today. I admire how honest you were and believe that telling us the truth is what had the biggest impact on us all. I truly think you made those who already do drugs, think twice about their actions." Anonymous student
"...Simon was the answer to all our concerns... the children were completely engaged with and interested in the information Simon gave... Simon commanded his audience in an unbelievable way; he answered all their questions in a candid and informative manner and really made the children think about the choices they will have to make. As a parent myself, I wish my children could have heard him talk." Sheena Washer, Head of Years 7 & 8
"Simon provided a compelling and authentic narrative with a very strong anti-drug message for our Year 8 pupils. We could not have asked for a better presentation." Mike Bevan, Head of PSHE
"We've invited Simon back to St John's year on year. Nobody could enthral the boys and do the drug talk better." Steve Hallett Head of PSHCEE
"Well done on a long hard day at Eltham College...Compelling and educational...I'm very glad that both my boys heard you give a version of the same drugs awareness talk earlier today." Anonymous Parent
"Simon delivered an outstanding talk to our pupils and parents. We recommend him to all school and definitely will work with him in the future." Dr Pardis Momeni, School Doctor
"We would thoroughly recommend Simon as a speaker to school groups. He spoke to our Years 10 and 11 and had them hooked for well over 90 minutes. Simon was easy to listen to, extremely well-informed and very engaging. Our students particularly appreciated hearing about his own personal experiences and they commented afterwards that this gave the talk much greater depth and meaning. We are looking forward to inviting Simon back to our school in the future." Jacklyn Turner, Senior Teacher - Pastoral
"Some of the students I spoke to at the end of the day used words such as 'inspirational', 'down to earth' and 'a great way to approach the subject'. I couldn't agree more." Sarah Krause, Head of PSHE
"Simon's talks were highly informative and hard-hitting in their emotional impact. Students were not only informed, they were challenged to think. They were given the facts they needed to make crucial decisions. Staff and pupils were engaged throughout and parents attending a separate talk were given a valuable opportunity to ask questions and discuss. Simon's passion for his cause was evident and that made the message powerful." Hilary Taylor, Head of Lower School
"Every year Simon talks to our students as part of a science unit all about drugs and how they affect the body. His talks give students an insight into street drugs and addiction, giving the facts from a point of view that we as teachers are unable to. His delivery style engages students and enables them to make up their own minds about drugs. We look forward to welcoming him again next year." Tim Miall, Head of Science
"My form found the talk a useful, informative session and were all firmly of the opinion that this was an important subject which was delivered in a more effective way as the speaker was not a school teacher and had first-hand experience of drugs both as an ex-addict and drugs counsellor." Emily McEwen, English Teacher
"He influenced us without putting pressure on us" Anonymous Year 10 Student
"It was eye opening" Anonymous Year 10 Student
"He used humour which made it interesting" Anonymous Year 10 Student
"it was good to be allowed to ask questions" Anonymous Year 10 Student
"Real life stories made his message more powerful"
I just wanted to say that your talk was absolutely amazing and gave me more knowledge about drugs than anything else I've ever read." Anonymous Parent
"You brought a great combination of testimony and hard facts - to which everyone canvassed has responded positively. Your undoubted authority and experience (of all types!) went over well, and it says a great deal that neither group of pupils was straining to leave at the end - even as their lunchtime or evening began to tick away!" Andy Woodward, Deputy Head of Senior School (Pastoral)
"I just wanted to thank you for a most captivating and powerful delivery of information. if I could pick anybody to deliver the same to my teenage son it would be you." Anonymous Parent
"Simon has delivered a drug and addiction talk to students and parents at The King's School for the last three years. On each occasion he has captured everyone's interest and provided thorough information and guidance." Justin Dixon, Deputy Headmaster
"I spoke to a few of the students who thought that it was good not to have been told 'don't do drugs' for an hour, but that they were told the consequences of taking drugs. I also spoke to a member of staff who thought that the talks were very good in getting the right messages across." Mrs G L Davies, Acting Head of Middle School
"He took no sides and just gave facts with plenty of detail... Humour and lively presentation... Very informative... He answered questions that would otherwise not have been asked... Thank you for an honest account and a neutral approach." Year 10 students
"Mr. Leigh's approach caught both our children's and parent's attention as it was real, honest, witty, moving and extremely informative." Taken from school's website
"We learned about the different drugs and what to do if we come across them." Anonymous Year 9 Student
"I was amazed to hear how drugs ruin lives." Anonymous Year 10 Student
"I attended Simon Leigh's presentation to parents. I was under the impression that the situation was more controlled and safer than when I was in school, I was shocked to discover that it's a lot worse!" Anonymous Parent