Taking part in our research

Annual Survey of Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People 

Project code: HSVY/SDD

News alert: *NEW Smoking, Drinking & Drug Use among Young People 2013 Report now Published*

The report covering the findings from the 2013 survey has now been released and available on the HSCIC website

Findings show:

  • Seven in ten 11 to 15 year olds cite teachers as helpful sources of information on drugs, up since 2009
  • Between 2003 and 2013, regular smoking fell from 9% to 3% of 11- to 15-year-olds.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, regular alcohol drinking dropped from 25% to 9%.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, pupils who said they had ever used drugs, dropped from 30% to 16%

Pupils were less likely to say that their school had given them enough information about drugs (66%) than about alcohol (70%) or smoking (73%).

The following survey aids in keeping student wellbeing on the agenda on a national level as well as informing interventions at school level.

Further news articles below:

Natcen | BBC | Guardian | Pulse

What is the study about and why is it important? 

Every year more than 5,000 pupils from more than 170 Secondary schools across England take part in the Survey of Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People.

The study is the only reliable source of national information on the topic and is used by the NHS, charities, pressure groups, local authorities and government policy makers. This research provides an accurate picture of the amount of smoking, drinking, and drug use among young people from which to develop important policies.

Who is sponsoring NFER to carry out this work?

The study is being carried out by the NFER in collaboration with NatCen Social Research on behalf of the Health and Social Information Centre.

NatCen Social Research are a non-profit organisation, independent of all government departments and political parties.


They have been carrying out high quality social research for over 40 years. They do extensive research with young people and schools, looking at topics as varied as school meals, the pupil premium and mentoring.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was set up as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB) in April 2013.


The Health and Social Care Act 2012 sets out their responsibilities, which include:

How have schools been selected to take part?

Every year NFER draw a representative sample of schools at random from their database of all schools across England. Nearly every type of school with pupils in years 7 to 11 is eligible for selection. We only exclude very small schools, special schools and pupil referral units.

Each year a fresh sample is drawn at random and we never ask schools to take part two years in a row. Since the survey's been running since 1982, there's a chance some schools will be asked to take part more than once.

Invitation emails and letters have now been sent to selected schools. Please look out for this in your inbox and complete the reply form to participate.

Do schools have to take part?

Participation in this project is entirely optional, however we rely on the goodwill of teachers and pupils to make the study a success and the information collected gives a vital snapshot of the situation across the country.

The study findings are used by the Government to develop health and education policies and to monitor the impact of legislation on young people's behaviour and attitudes.

What does taking part involve?

The survey involves approximately 35 pupils from each school completing a short questionnaire lasting around 40 minutes.

This sample of pupils would be randomly selected by the NFER/NatCen from across years 7-11 based on registration information.

A representative from NatCen would then visit your school to administer questionnaires to these sampled pupils at a time convenient to you.

Once registration information has been provided, very little teacher involvement is required.
All questionnaires are anonymous and we do not ask pupils to write their names on the front, only answer some basic background information.

SDD12 questionnaire example

How will schools benefit from taking part?

As a thank you for taking part, your school will be given access to a series of year-specific lesson plans, based on survey findings.

Each lesson plan includes three sessions lasting around 40 to 50 minutes each, using data from past surveys in the series to highlight relevant topics and issues.

The lesson plans were developed in consultation with the PSHE Association for use with pupils from Year 7 to Year 11.

SDD example lesson plan

How will NFER use and protect the data collected?

All information relating to this project will be kept confidential by NFER and NatCen and no individual or school will be identified in any report.

The NFER will need to supply NatCen with a list of the schools that agree to take part and their sampled pupil data. NFER and NatCen will not disclose names of individuals or schools involved in the study either in any reports arising from the use of this data or in any other way.

How is the data used in the wider community?

  • Government policies
    • Healthy lives, healthy people (2010)
    • Drug strategy (2010)
    • Tobacco control plan (2011)
    • Alcohol strategy (2012)
  • Independent advisors
    • Chief Medical Officer’s advice on young people and drinking
    • Children .and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum
  • Local government
    • Comparing local estimates to national data
    • Charities
    • Including the Mentor, Drug Education Forum, Drinkaware, Action on Smoking and Health


What are the outcomes of this research?

The report from the 2014 study will be available on the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s website late July 2015. Schools will be able to view and download this report. Please see in the box to the side for links to previous years reports.

Who can be contacted for more information?

Joanne Haswell: 01753 63 7019, j.haswell@nfer.ac.uk
Or visit www.sddsurvey.org