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Keepin it REAL
Secondary life skills programme.

Designed to teach young people a range of strategies to help them avoid risky situations, Keepin it REAL uses the REAL model of REFUSE, EXPLAIN, AVOID, and LEAVE. These steps can then be used in response to risky situations that young people can find themselves in, often in relation to drugs and alcohol.

It is our core secondary school programme for 11 to 16 year olds based on the well-researched and established D.A.R.E. America Keepin It REAL middle school curriculum. Life Skills Education has developed this programme over three years in order for it to be delivered into UK secondary schools.

Developed following prevention research

The principles listed below are the result of long-term research studies on the origins of drug abuse behaviors and the common elements of effective prevention programs. These principles were developed to help prevention practitioners use the results of prevention research to address drug use among children, adolescents and young adults in communities across the country. Parents, educators and community leaders can use these principles to help guide their thinking, planning, selection and delivery of drug abuse prevention programs at the community level.

  • Principle 1
    Prevention programs should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors
  • Principle 2
    Prevention programs should address all forms of drug abuse

  • Principle 3
    Prevention programs should address the type of drug abuse problem in the local community
  • Principle 4
    Prevention programs should be tailored to address risks specific to population or audience characteristics
  • Principle 5
    Family-based prevention programs should enhance family bonding and relationships
  • Principle 6
    Prevention programs can be designed to intervene as early as infancy to address risk factors for drug abuse
  • Principle 7
    Prevention programs for elementary school children should target improving academic and social-emotional learning
  • Principle 8
    Prevention programs for middle or junior high and high school students should increase academic and social competence
  • Principle 9
    Prevention programs aimed at general populations at key transition points, such as the transition to secondary school
  • Principle 10
    Community prevention programs that combine two or more effective programs, can be more effective than a single program alone
  • Principle 11
    Prevention programs are most effective when they present consistent, community-wide messages in each setting
  • Principle 12
    When communities adapt programs to match their needs, they should retain core elements of the original research-based intervention
  • Principle 13
    Prevention programs should be long-term with repeated interventions

  • Principle 14
    Prevention programs should include teacher training on good classroom management practices
  • Principle 15
    Prevention programs are most effective when they employ interactive techniques
  • Principle 16
    Research-based prevention programs can be cost-effective

The Programme


The classroom based programme allows teenagers to explore a range of issues and encourages debate and discussion around staying safe and healthy and making positive choices.


Throughout the course pupils get the opportunity to consider what factors influence their behaviour, how others may view them and to examine their own communication skills.


At the end of the course students will be able to undertake a research project looking at drugs and alcohol and to identify and build their own support network.

Supported by Videos

Keepin it REAL utilises a series of video clips, one for each of the REAL strategies, which feature a scenario with a discussion by young people afterward. There is a workbook to complement the videos and additional resources are available via our website in order to support the teachers delivery.

* 92% of young people surveyed said they found the Keepin it REAL videos engaging, interesting and informative


National Curriculum

Often schools are legally obliged to ensure teaching meets the requirements of the National Curriculum, which also states that although non statutory ‘schools should make provision for PSHE’.

The PSHE Association

The PSHE Association states ‘PSHE education is a school subject through which pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepare for life and work in modern Britain’.

Life Skills Education

Life Skills Education programmes aim to address this by equipping young people with the skills which will allow them to make safe and healthy choices, which will allow the development of positive lifetime habits.

Keepin it REAL

The use of our DARE DECISION MAKING MODEL and the REFUSE, EXPLAIN, AVOID and LEAVE tactics enable young people to explore a range of options before making sound decisions.
Keepin it REAL - Supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire
In 2016 the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) commissioned a ‘Big Conversation’ with young people in the county, which was conducted by members of the Youth Crime Commission. Early in their work they identified drug and alcohol issues as one of the key areas of concern and they reported
‘Across different sections of the youth population, we heard that alcohol and drugs are far too accessible to children and young people from a young age. Many young people told us that drugs and alcohol are easy for them to get hold of – whether on the streets, in their neighbourhoods, peer groups, or even at their places of study. We heard that younger teens can obtain alcohol through fake IDs and can access more than they should’.

The Need

As a result of their conversations they recommended ‘In-depth education for young people from an early age, with a focus on both health and mental health effects of drugs and alcohol’.

The Plan

In recognition of this and his own research the Nottinghamshire PCC made reducing the effects of drugs and alcohol a key priority when developing his own Policing Plan.

The Outcome

After careful consideration the PCC has funded the Keepin it REAL programme in a number of schools to help contribute to addressing the key overall priorities in relation to drugs and alcohol across the county.

The Keepin it REAL programme is delivered in secondary schools by teachers who are trained by Life Skills Education. If required this can be supported by one of our highly trained DARE Officers.

The full programme can be delivered over thirteen, 45 minute sessions, with a shorter programme available consisting of six sessions. If required the programme can also be delivered in a more flexible way with the ability to select modules to meet the needs of the class.

The programme includes all resources to enable a smooth delivery. You will be able to access videos, comprehensive lesson notes and a PowerPoint presentation for use in class via our website.

Feedback from Young People


of pupils found the video clips engaging, interesting and informative


of pupils agreed that the workbooks were a positive addition to the programme


of pupils liked the discussion elements of the course


of pupils felt that they had learned to make more informed decisions

Student Quotes

‘it showed real life situations and how easily we could find ourselves in a situation and how you could avoid them’

‘I thought that Keeping it REAL was good because it taught us how to stay safe and keep us out of trouble’

‘Keeping it REAL was suited to our age and topic and they were showing us what could happen; it was useful and gave us good advice’

‘I thought the videos were helpful as it was like we were actually seeing it happen and seeing the consequences’

‘the workbook was full of activities to make us think about what we should do’

‘what I learned will definitely help me make more sensible decisions when I am in danger or in a bad situation’

‘I can now look out for my friends and keep them safe and stop them making bad decisions’

‘it opened my eyes to the real world, I will probably think more before I take a risk’’

Keepin it REAL – Buy Now

Tel:  0300 111 3273
Fax:  0700 607 7559
Address: Life Skills Education Centre, Chadburn House, Weighbridge Road, Littleworth, Mansfield, NG18 1AH

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