Press release

Talk to young people about alcohol – they do listen, says research

1 November 2013

Giving young people the facts about alcohol and its effects, equipping them to make informed decisions, and promoting responsible choices has been found to delay the onset of drinking, according to a report published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

The study of around 4000 students aged between 12 and 14 revealed that those who had received such an approach to alcohol education during Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons at school were significantly less likely to start drinking compared to those that had not.

The findings emerged from NFER’s evaluation of Talk About Alcohol, a range of resources developed by the Alcohol Education Trust, and offer clear evidence of impact on students’ knowledge of alcohol and its effects and improved decision-making, which has translated into a delay in the onset of drinking.

The results of the two-year evaluation were presented at a special Alcohol Education Trust event at the House of Commons yesterday hosted by the Rt Honourable Oliver Letwin MP, Minister for Government Policy.

Further key findings from the research were:

Sarah Lynch, senior research manager at NFER, said: “There is evidence here of materials that can make a difference, and that a harm minimisation approach can be effective at increasing knowledge and delaying drinking.

“The findings emphasise the value and importance of PSHE, indicating that high quality PSHE should be promoted. The role of PSHE should not just be fact-based but should encourage informed decision-making, enable pupils to recognise risky situations and how to avoid them.”

The full evaluation report, Talk About Alcohol: an Evaluation of the Alcohol Education Trust’s Intervention in Secondary Schools is available here.


Contact information
Sarah Fleming, NFER Media & Communications Officer: 01753 637155;
Jane Parrack, NFER Marketing & Communications Manager: 01753 637245;

Note to editors

About the Research
NFER assessed the impact of the programme on participating students, by comparing survey results for an intervention group participating in Talk About alcohol lessons with a statistically matched comparison group. The evaluation involved a survey of around 4000 students across both groups, conducted at three time points (autumn 2011, summer 2012 and summer 2013).

The Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions (CAYT) is an independent research centre with funding from the Department for Education. It is a partnership between leading researchers from the Institute of Education, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and the National Centre for Social Research. They have graded the evaluation 3/3 for impact and 5/6 for quality of evidence.

About NFER
NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s services.

About AET
The Alcohol Education Trust remit is the provision of alcohol education in different ways, to pupils age 11-18 and their parents, and to provide evidence based and engaging resources and lesson plans for teachers. The Alcohol Education Trust Trustees are all career teachers and specialists in PSHE, and include a recently retired Head Teacher, an SEN specialist, a Head of Department from a large greater London secondary school and a teacher from one of the largest rural secondary schools in the UK (2,400 children). The aims of the Trust are to improve knowledge and informed decision making, to raise the age of onset of drinking in the UK and to reduce the incidence and acceptability of binge drinking and drunkenness among young people. To find out more visit or email