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
  • Alcohol and drug use by young people raise the risk of poorer immediate and long-term outcomes.
  • One in five (22%) of 15 year olds in England report having been drunk in the last week and two in five (38%) say they have ever taken drugs.
  • Over 10 thousand secondary school pupils were excluded from school for either a fixed term or permanently in 2018-19 for alcohol and drug issues.
  • PHE prevalence estimates suggest is that there are 26 children per 1,000 in England who live with a parent with an opiate or alcohol problem. That translates as 25 pupils in an average secondary school and 7 in an average primary school. That is based on an average secondary school having 965 pupils and an average primary school having 282 pupils.
  • Among 15-year olds in England, 5% regularly smoke cigarettes and 6% do so occasionally.


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.




  • 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


Schools are discouraged to use approaches that are proven to be least effective, such as scare tactics, ex-users and knowledge-only approaches.


Parents and carers are offered information and advice to enable them to support their children.

Use clear referral pathways, for example into school nursing, school counselling, early help services, voluntary sector services, young people’s drugs and alcohol services or to a youth worker, as needed.

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

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


  • 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.


Source – DfE and PHE December 2020

Local Support


We’re a young people’s drug and alcohol service. We’re here to listen and support young people who are having trouble with alcohol and drugs. Who We Are We are a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for young people aged between 10 and 18. We won’t judge or tell you what to do, we

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Cambridgeshire Child and Adolescent Substance Use Service (CASUS)provides information, support and specialist treatment in Cambridgeshire around drug and alcohol use to young people under 18 years of age and their families. CASUS is a NHS team that specialises in working with young people who have developed problematic or harmful use of substances. We see young

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Life Education Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

We teach young people how amazing their bodies are and how the human body can be affected by drugs. Through the ‘life skills’ approach, children are enabled to practise how to make healthy decisions. We also provide young people with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence to enable them to make healthy choices. The programmes build

Read More About Life Education Cambridgeshire & Peterborough