Here you’ll find some helpful advice to keep the Sweet Spot lessons running smoothly. This includes information on how to set the scene for a non-judgmental and engaging discussion; general suggestions for steps beyond the lesson plans; and ground rules for facilitating lessons, protecting young people and dealing with confidentiality and disclosure.

Setting the Scene

These lessons cover a lot of content. Students’ discussions may take up more time than allocated. With such a challenging topic, it is important to maintain a non-judgemental and engaging atmosphere throughout the lessons – this may be the first time students have had the opportunity to openly discuss an issue which can have a huge impact on themselves and their friends. Be available to them, along with other staff with whom they have positive relationships, or let them know who else they can speak to following these two lessons. The plenary in the second lesson asks students to buddy up and use social media to support one another when they have had the opportunity to try some of their strategies.

We also encourage you to remind your students that the website accompanying these lessons has a lot of extra information about how young people really feel about drinking, and how to enjoy social situations without drinking beyond their “Sweet Spot.”

Next Steps

Ultimately, a lesson pack for a half term could be developed on this issue, giving students time to rehearse and practice their strategies/plans in “real life” and then come back to the class and share their experiences of what went well and what could have been better; giving them the time and space to explore reasons for this. We encourage you to use the resources available on our website to develop interactive learning activities.

Ground Rules in the Lessons

We advise that you briefly establish some ground rules with your pupils. The nature of these lessons may raise confidentiality or Child Protection issues. For example, pupils may mention instances of underage drinking. We recommend that within the lesson you:

  • establish ground rules relating to confidentiality and maintaining the content of discussions within the group/the classroom;
  • outline to pupils, with their agreement, what they do and do not need to share with others before beginning the lessons; and
  • remind pupils that this is a confidential environment, and they can talk to you if they have any concerns. Remind them of the limits of your confidentiality (child protection) if applicable, but encourage them to speak freely – the aim is to help prepare them for situations where alcohol may be involved, not to police their behaviour

We recommend these guidelines for pupil behaviour and disclosure during the lessons:

  • pupils should support each other in discussion and refrain from making judgmental, insulting or offensive statements against another pupil
  • pupils should agree not to share stories that someone tells during the lessons • pupils should feel comfortable to discuss their experiences as much or as little as they want to, not feeling compelled to give details We suggest these guidelines for facilitation:
  • adopt a non-judgemental, empathetic judgement throughout the lesson plans
  • focus on personal strengths and social skills
  • speak to pupils at their level, taking a facilitating more than a didactic approach
  • avoid glamorizing excessive drinking (or allowing pupils to do this excessively – deflect the conversation or use as a discussion point)
  • avoid focus on negative outcomes or risks of drinking as this detracts from the resilience message and can make drinkers defensive (or allowing pupils to do this excessively – deflect the conversation or use as a discussion point)
  • maintain a focus on choice and behaviour
  • avoid assumptions about who may or may not have prior experience with alcohol
  • encourage critical discussion between the students, avoiding “right or wrong” answers
  • be aware of who the Child Protection Officers are in your school, along with being familiar with the relevant Child Protection Policy and Procedures
  • discuss beforehand with your Child Protection Officer whether and how you must report instances of illegal activity (e.g., underage drinking)