Only half of 11-15 year olds say schools give enough information about drinking and drugs

A survey published today by the Health Service Information Centre (HSCIC) reveals that only half of 11-15 year olds feel they are getting enough information about alcohol (56%) and drugs (54%) from their school. Slightly more (60%) say they get enough information about smoking.

The Survey of Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England, carried out by NatCen Social Research, reveals the views of more than 6,000 young people on smoking, drinking and drugs:

  • Pupils were more likely to think that their schools gave them enough information about smoking (60%) than about drinking alcohol (56%) or drug use (54%).
  • Boys were more likely than girls to be satisfied with the amount of information they received; 51% of girls thought their schools had given them enough information about drugs, compared with 57% of boys.

The perceived lack of information could be down to the frequency of lessons, as while almost all of the 210 schools surveyed said that they taught all pupils about  smoking drinking and drugs at least once a year, a very small proportion, between 5% and 8%, taught them more than once a term.

It could also be down to whether pupils recall these lessons. Even though most schools said that they taught lessons on smoking drinking and drugs, only just over half of pupils recalled having these lessons. They were most likely to recall lessons on drugs (59%), less likely to recall lessons on smoking (55%) or alcohol (53%).

Elizabeth Fuller, Research Director at NatCen Social Research commented:

“Schools should take note of these findings. A substantial minority of young people do not feel they are getting enough information about smoking, drinking and drugs from their school. This is of particular importance, because we already know from this survey that young people say that schools are an important source of helpful information on these topics – as important as parents, and more so than other relatives, the media and GPs.”