Alcohol

To nurture the skills of resilience is key to providing young people with the ability to cope with stress, adversity, failure and challenges. Resilience is evident when young people have a greater ability to “bounce back” when faced with difficulties and achieve positive outcomes.

Resilience is required to say no to sharing an alcoholic drink with friends and to take responsibility for seeking expert advice and support when it is needed.

Admission episodes for alcohol-specific conditions for under 18s per 100,000 of the population has remained consistent across England in recent years. Whilst Peterborough (23.2) and the East of England (24.5) region have below England average, Cambridgeshire is above at 37.9 compared to 32.9 for England.

Cambridgeshire Peterborough East of England England
Admission episodes for alcohol-specific conditions for Under 18s per 100,000 in 2015/6-17/18 37.9 23.2 24.5 32.9

 

A whole school approach is the most effective way to support positive health and wellbeing and schools are encouraged to use their professional judgement to determine:

  • The type of content needed for education programmes aimed at different groups
  • Establishing whether or not a child or young person is drinking ‘harmful amounts of alcohol’

The most effective interventions include a focus on ‘risk and resilience’ factors, and multi-component programmes involving parenting interventions and support for individuals and families. The key actions for schools, examples and links to resources are listed below:

  • Integrate alcohol education within the national science, PSHE and PSHE education curricula by utilising recommended lesson plans and established resources
  • Tailor alcohol education to different age groups and take different learning needs into account. It should aim to encourage children not to drink, delay the age at which young people start drinking and reduce the harm it can cause among those who do drink.
  • Introduce a ‘whole school’ approach to alcohol. It should involve staff, parents and pupils and cover everything from policy development and the school environment to the professional development of (and support for) staff.
  • Offer parents or carers information about where they can get help to develop their parenting skills where appropriate
  • Offer brief, one-to-one advice on the harmful effects of alcohol use, how to reduce the risks and where to find sources of support where appropriate
  • Where appropriate, make a direct referral to external services (without providing one-to-one advice) such as Aspire

Alcohol is part of society and children and young people need to be supported to use alcohol, if they so choose, in a responsible and informed way. There are issues with alcohol use more immediate for schools and educators – use of alcohol can affect attendance and attainment in the short and long term.

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced research (2010) which shows an association between 14-year-olds drinking once or twice a week and lower scores at GCSE – a drop of around 20 points or three grades.

Drinking on most days is associated with an 80-point drop. The paper also found that drinking was associated with other negative outcomes, such as the likelihood of being NEET and not remaining in full-time education beyond the age of 16.

Research has identified some of the things that make young people vulnerable to using alcohol and drugs. These include: being in trouble at school, having friends who take drugs and drink, starting to smoke early, and/or staying out late without parents’ knowledge. Conversely, there are also factors that can protect young people, including good family relationships, clear rules and boundaries and positive school environments

By the end of primary school pupils should know:

  • The facts about legal and illegal harmful substances and associated risks, including smoking, alcohol use, and drug taking.

By the end of secondary school pupils should know:

  • The facts about legal substances and illegal substances, including drug-taking, and the associated risks, including the link to serious mental health conditions.
  • The physical and psychological risks associated with alcohol consumption and what constitutes (relatively) safe alcohol consumption.
  • The physical and psychological consequences of addiction, including alcohol dependency.