Effectiveness of schools-based life-skills and alcohol education programmes

A National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) review of UK and international literature on the impact of school-based alcohol education and life-skills programmes since 2008. This review considers which programmes offer the greatest value for money and the processes that facilitate or inhibit their implementation, sustainability and impact.

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Key  findings:

  • There is mixed evidence of the effectiveness of alcohol education and life-skills programmes.
  • The most substantial evidence was found in relation to pupils’ enhanced knowledge and understanding of alcohol-related issues.
  • There is a degree of evidence of the effectiveness of alcohol education and life-skills programmes in reducing the frequency of alcohol consumption and episodes of drunkenness among school-aged children.
  • There is limited evidence of programmes having a positive impact on school-aged children’s attitudes, decision-making abilities and confidence and assertiveness skills.
  • Very few studies investigate the cost benefits of programmes.

Factors that help to facilitate the success of alcohol and life-skills programs include:

  • Adopting a good balance between knowledge building, skills development, and sensitivity to factors influencing student attitudes and behaviour
  • Giving careful consideration to pedagogy, so that it is age appropriate
  • Ensuring programmes are delivered by the right people with the right skills (such as expert professionals and/or specialist school staff) and, where possible, are interactive and open
  • Utilising and drawing on the support of parents/carers as protective agents for young people wherever possible.