Case Study – Alcohol Education Trust

AET/LEAF Funding Support Document – January 2016

The focus for the talk about alcohol LEAF Project is to utilise the independently evaluated AET “Talk about alcohol” Programme with Year 8 pupils and test its affordability, feasibility, effectiveness in engendering behaviour change and sustainability for roll out in schools.

Research, recently carried out by The National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) of The Talk about alcohol programme with around 4000 pupils in 34 schools, showed that 4 lessons in Year 8 and 2 top up lessons in Year 9 significantly delayed the onset of drinking, and improved knowledge and engagement In a further follow up in 2015, the delay of onset was found to be further strengthened over time.

Delaying the onset of drinking by delivering the intervention in Year 8 before unsupervised consumption begins, improves the chances of academic success, lifelong aspiration and reduces other risk taking. The “Talk about alcohol” programme is also the only whole school programme to have been independently evaluated in England with significant preventative effects.

The first stage of the LEAF funded project involved the recruitment of 10 -15 schools and a minimum of 1500 pupils. To date 11 schools have been recruited with almost 2,000 pupils across the 3 areas taking part in the trial. We are particularly pleased with these numbers as the recruitment timeframe was very narrow.

The schools are being supported with free training for PSHE leads and non-specialist teachers with guidance on the easy to use lesson plans in the Teacher Workbook. Teachers will then deliver 4 lessons to the pupils focussing specifically on Assessing Knowledge, the Social and Physical Effects of Alcohol, Units and Guidelines and the use of “Just a few drinks” video clips.

The LEAF project coordinator, Helen Dougan, has found that teachers have been very keen to engage with the issues and demonstrate a good understanding of their pupil’s needs. She comments, “While PSHE provision is different in each school, all recognise the contribution this makes towards safeguarding.” Ofsted state that, “safeguarding cannot be good or outstanding unless PSHE is integral to the whole school ethos”.

“Our aim is to develop resilience, self-confidence and informed, healthy decision making in an inclusive ‘bottom up’ engaging way among children before they begin drinking. This significantly delays the age of onset of drinking, improves children’s knowledge and engagement with PSHE.”

The Isle of Wight is an area that AET had not previously worked; however, we have now successfully recruited 4 secondary schools (Christ the King College, Cowes Enterprise College, Medina College and Ryde Academy) who are keen to be involved in this exciting project. We have been working in conjunction with the local Public Health Team whose priorities also identify the issue of alcohol and young people in the “Health and Wellbeing Plan” where a key outcome for young people in 2015/16 is:

“A sustained reduction in both the numbers of 11-15yrs drinking alcohol and the amounts consumed”

In one school, Ryde Academy, we trained over 50 members of staff during an INSET day in January 2016.


A positive response in south east Tyneside has resulted in 5 schools participating (Boldon School, Jarrow School, St Joseph’s RC Catholic Academy, South Shields Community School, Whitburn C of E Academy) In November 2015 PSHE teachers attended a Teacher Training Twilight Workshop where 100 % of participants found the session to be, “…interactive and engaging session with lots of new ideas”
Additional evaluation comments included:

“ ….great resources you can use with all year groups and easily shared with teaching staff”

Feedback so far reveals teaching and support staff to be very enthusiastic about addressing this topic and have been delighted to have the opportunity to work with some excellent resources. In particular the downloadable Teacher Workbook which makes planning, preparation and sharing the resources quick and easy. In addition staff feel the short films and games will be really helpful to facilitate class discussion and help ensure pupil engagement and enjoyment.

One Public Health Advisor has given support and endorsement to the AET Project saying,

“I think this is a great opportunity for schools as PSHE leads have identified substance misuse as an area they need support with.”

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