Understanding Substances Specialist Award
Welcome to the Bristol Healthy Schools’ Understanding Substances Specialist Award
What is the Understanding Substances Specialist Award?

The Understanding Substances Specialist Award aims to prevent, delay and reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among young people in Bristol.

The Understanding Substances Specialist Award:
  • Focuses on a whole school approach to preventing and delaying substance misuse
  • Looks at how a school might address concerns when young people, staff or parents/carers are using substances.
  • Highlights the importance of staff skills and clear pathways to support young people
The award has been designed in an age-appropriate way, meaning that the criteria are suitable for both primary and secondary level settings.

The secondary level criteria include more detail about protecting oneself from risk and, where appropriate, signposting young people to support services.

The award is informed by local and national guidance and evidence.
Is this the right award for us?

Typically schools decide a topic of focus based on health need. The School Health Data packs provided by Bristol City Council/ Healthy Schools provide a good insight and schools may also have their own data and insight.

How long does it take?

Each Specialist award takes up to a year but it may take only a few months if you already have good practice in place.

How does the online system work?

Throughout your journey you can log in and out as many times as you like, updating your evidence as you go. Your email address becomes your login. Please keep saving your changes as you go.

Most of the criteria require a Yes/No response, others ask for more detail via a text box. We never ask you to upload documents or provide additional evidence. Only this form is needed.

IMPORTANT: Do not click the back button at the top left of your browser as you complete the form. To go back to the previous section, click ‘previous page’ at the bottom of the survey.

Do I get guidance?

Yes, there is guidance throughout. This will either help you make sense of what we are asking for, or signpost you to helpful documents.  For example, we might ask you to write a policy about something. In that case, we have provided you with an example policy and that should save you time.

You can download a PDF version of the criteria and guidance for reference hereIMPORTANT: This is for reference purposes only, we will only accepted online submissions.

At any point, you can email us for help or further guidance on healthy.schools@bristol.gov.uk.

How do I know if I’ve passed?

To pass this award, you need to be able to answer ‘yes’ or ‘correct’ to every question (other than the text box questions) as they are all essential. If you answer ‘no’ or ‘incorrect’ to any question, you will have the opportunity, at the end of the application form, to tell us why and what you are doing to work towards this criteria.

We will consider your response but it may be that you need some extra time to put the required practice in place and should re-submit once you have done so. We will support you to achieve this.

We aim to advise you, via email, of the outcome of your application within 3 weeks of submitting. The outcome will either be ‘Pass’ or ‘Further work and/or clarification needed’. If the latter, we will provide you with feedback and guidance about what you need to do to pass.
If you do not pass the first time, you can re-submit your application as many times as you need, although we hope that the guidance is clear enough that this won’t be necessary. 
Good luck!