Skip to main content
Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2018 [NS]

National statistics

National Statistics

Part 12: School lessons and guidance

Pupils were asked about lessons they received on smoking, alcohol and drugs, and each school who took part in the survey also answered a questionnaire on lesson provision. These subjects are generally covered in Personal, Social and Health and Economic Education (PSHE), which is not currently part of the National Curriculum in England.

Guidance for schools was published by the Department for Education in 2013:

This defines PSHE as ‘an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education’. As well as drug education, PSHE encompasses sex and relationship education, financial education and understanding of the way diet and exercise contribute to a healthy lifestyle.


Pupils’ recall of school lessons about smoking, alcohol and drugs

Pupils who said they received lessons in the last year, by school year

More than half of pupils said they received lessons on each topic during the last year, with slightly higher proportions for drugs (62%), than smoking (58%) and alcohol (57%).

Lessons generally peaked in years 8 and 9, though the lower rates in year 7 will be partly due to the survey taking place mainly in the Autumn term, so year 7 pupils might only have been at the school for a few weeks.


Pupils who think their school has given enough information, by school year

More pupils thought their school gave them enough information about smoking (55%) compared to drinking alcohol (52%) and drug use (51%).

The proportions were lowest in Year 7, but again this will be partly due to the survey taking place mainly in the Autumn term when year 7 pupils might only have been at the school for a few weeks.


For more data relating to this section:



Frequency of lessons about tobacco, alcohol and drugs

Frequency of lessons in each school year

Most schools reported pupils had lessons about each topic at least once a year (the combined light and dark blue areas in the chart below); between 77% and 95% of schools, depending on the school year and topic. The likelihood was highest in year 9 for all topics, and lowest in years 7 and 11.

Schools having lessons at least once a term ranged from 16% to 24% depending on the school year and topic.


For more data relating to this section:



Lesson contributors and sources of information used to prepare lessons

Who contributes to school lessons

Schools could select more than one option.

Teachers contributed to lessons in 96% of schools, although not necessarily a specialist PSHE teacher. In addition, most schools also drew on other contributors. These included Local Authority drug and alcohol advisors (36%), the police (35%), other school staff (32%), and school nurses (23%).


Sources used to prepare school lessons

Teachers drew on a range of sources to prepare lessons, including the government-funded FRANK website (78%), the PSHE Association (75%), Google and other search engines (69%), Times Educational Supplement Connect resources (52%), and other teachers (47%).


For more data relating to this section:

Last edited: 23 January 2020 3:48 pm