Rupa Huq MP attended a hard-hitting lesson on the risks associated with underage drinking at Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, organised by Collingwood Learning. ‘Smashed’ is an international programme reaching 18,000 students pupils across the UK this year.
Ms Huq joined pupils watching a play delivered to a group of 240 students from year 8 about a group of friends who find themselves in trouble as a result of their misuse of alcohol. The performance was followed by an interactive workshop where pupils were invited to probe the cast on any of the issues brought up during the play and explore the consequences portrayed by the actors.
‘Smashed’ is an alcohol education and awareness programme sponsored by Diageo and delivered by Collingwood Learning. This year sees the tour appear in 90 UK schools in 6 different regions. To date, the programme has reached over 333,000 pupils in 1,400 schools across the UK since it began in 2005.
‘Smashed’ was developed in consultation with young people and has been designed to engage with pupils in a different way to typical school lessons. It combines the use of drama with an interactive workshop to help young people understand the facts, causes, and consequences surrounding alcohol misuse and the risks of underage drinking.
“Teaching young people about the risks of underage drinking through theatre performances and interactive workshops is an original and undoubtedly successful approach to education. I’d like to thank the pupils and teachers at the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, as well as the Smashed team, for welcoming me at this session.”
The performance has a tangible impact on students, with the percentage of students who felt they knew a lot about the dangers of alcohol misuse increasing by 44% after watching. Additionally,
students who know the legal age for buying alcohol increased from 80% to 98%, while students who understand the term peer pressure increased by 20%.
England is making progress to reduce levels of underage drinking. The number of boys and girls aged 8 to 15 that reported drinking alcohol has fallen significantly, sitting at 15% compared to 45% in 2003. However, there is still work to be done. With 37.3% of 16-24 year olds binge drinking on their heaviest day of drinking, ‘Smashed’ is targeting 12 to 16 year olds to help them make informed decisions in the future as they reach this vulnerable age group.
 Smashed Project, Evaluation Report, National Schools Tour 2017
 ONS - Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2005 to 2016: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/drugusealcoholandsmoking/bulletins/opinionsandlifestylesurveyadultdrinkinghabitsingreatbritain/2005to2016