14,500 students from across England get a hard-hitting lesson on the risks associated with underage drinking as part of an award-winning international programme that will reach 35,000 students across the UK this year.
Secondary school students, aged 12 to 14, will watch a play about a group of friends who find themselves in trouble as a result of their misuse of alcohol. The performance is followed by an interactive workshop where pupils will be invited to probe the cast on any of the issues brought up during the play and explore the consequences portrayed by the actors.
The performance is part of ‘Smashed’, an alcohol education and awareness programme delivered by Collingwood Learning and sponsored by Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol. The tour will visit 90 schools in eight regions across England, reaching around 14,500 students. The programme has reached 400,000 pupils in 2,040 schools across the UK since it began in 2005, and is now delivered in every continent.
‘Smashed’ was developed in consultation with young people and combines drama with interactive workshops to help young people understand the facts, causes, and consequences of alcohol misuse and the risks of underage drinking.
The programme extends beyond seeing the play in the classroom. Following the workshops, ‘Smashed’ also provides additional support for the schools in delivering vital Personal, Social and Health Education, and offers a free online guide which supports parents with discussions at home about underage drinking.
The UK is making progress in reducing levels of underage drinking. According to an NHS Children’s Health survey, the number of children aged 8 to 15 that reported drinking alcohol fell from 45% in 2003 to 14% in 2017. However, there is still work to be done. A study by the ONS showed that when 16-24 year olds do drink, they are the most likely demographic to binge. This is why ‘Smashed’ is targeting 12 to 14 year olds – it prepares them to make informed decisions in the future as they reach this age group.
Results from the latest Smashed evaluation report have shown: 
- 95% of students said they were less likely to drink alcohol underage after taking part
- 97% of students were able to correctly identify the legal age for buying alcohol after the workshop (a 16% increase in accuracy)
- 85% of pupils demonstrated confidence in where to get help with alcohol related issues locally after the programme (a significant increase of 42%)
- 96% of students understood the term ‘peer pressure’ after the session.
Chris Simes from Collingwood Learning said: “This is a real change from the usual classroom lesson and makes the risks of underage drinking impossible to forget. We help teachers carry these lessons forward by delivering Personal, Social and Health Education support after the visit, and offer parents free online support materials. We’re thrilled to be supported by Diageo and to be heading to 90 schools, visiting 14,500 students, in the first England tour of the new decade!”
Aileen Keyes, Head of International Public Policy, Diageo said: “We’re really proud to have supported Smashed for the last 15 years, and to have reached so many young people across the country. It’s encouraging to see underage drinking declining and we hope programs like Smashed continue to help well into the future.”