Skip to main content

Call for secondary schools to take part in survey of young people’s smoking, drinking and drug use

Secondary schools across England are being asked to volunteer to take part in a statistical survey that will act as a barometer for young people’s alcohol, nicotine and drug use.
News type:
Press releases

Secondary schools across England are being asked to volunteer to take part in a statistical survey that will act as a barometer for young people’s alcohol, nicotine and drug use.

Smoking Drinking and Drug Use among young people in England,2 is carried out under exam conditions in selected schools and pupils do not write their names on the questionnaires.  It is one of the longest running national surveys targeting 11 to 15-year-olds and began in 1982.   The survey results have been used by the government to monitor trends and behaviours and gain a better understanding of the impact of alcohol, nicotine and drugs on children.

The 2018 report will be published by NHS Digital next year and is accredited with National Statistics3 status, while the survey itself will be carried out by Ipsos MORI4.

It will include information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs. The report also surveys the attitudes and behaviours of secondary school pupils towards smoking, drinking and drugs and is analysed in relation to a range of demographics including age, gender, ethnicity and geography.

Paul Niblett, NHS Digital responsible statistician, said: “Only a small time commitment is required from schools - typically one lesson period for three class groups per school.  Parents are also contacted beforehand to make sure they are happy for their child to take part.

“We greatly value the input of the pupils who take part in the survey and rely on the support of participating secondary schools to produce this unique and valuable report.”

More information about the SDD survey can be found on the NHS Digital website.

View the 2016 report

To find out more about the survey contact Ipsos Mori:

Emily Mason

Tel: 020 3059 5318


How the survey works

  • Approximately 500 schools are randomly selected across England and invited to take part in the survey in the autumn term.
  • Selected schools are sent a letter and participation form, then later contacted by Ipsos MORI and NFER to organise appointments. 
  • In each participating school, three  class groups are selected at random to take part. Letters about the survey are given to selected pupils to take home or sent to the parents.
  • Survey takes place during one school period, under exam conditions, before the Christmas holidays. Ipsos MORI interviewers attend each class session to introduce the survey and supervise its completion.
  • Survey data is analysed to produce the report which is released by NHS Digital in the summer.


Notes to editors

  1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. NHS Digital is the new trading name for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). We provide 'Information and Technology for better health and care'. Find out more about our role and remit at
  2. The survey report presents information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs. The report also explores the attitudes and beliefs of school children towards drug taking and from where and from whom children obtain drugs.  Relationships between smoking, drinking and drug use are explored along with the links between each behaviour and other factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and previous truancy or exclusion.
  3. National Statistics’ are a subset of official statistics which have been certified by the UK Statistics Authority as compliant with its Code of Practice for Official Statistics
  4. Ipsos is an independent market research company managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specialisations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management. In Britain, Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute works closely with national governments, local public services and the not-for-profit sector. Its c.200 research staff focus on public service and policy issues.
  5. For media queries or interview requests please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.

Share this page

Contact us

Media enquiries
Last edited: 12 September 2018 10:52 am