The Alcohol Education Trust - Parent Newsletter

Spring Term, February 2018, Ed 29

Wow, it doesn’t quite seem right to call this our Spring newsletter after the recent weather! The children loved the extra time off school of course, but we hope none of you were too badly affected by the weather, our CEO took 25 hours to get home from London and was stranded for the night in Salisbury but we know some of you still have the big freeze in full force and fingers crossed the weather improves soon.

Who or what is PAM?

You may have read a lot this last month on the affects of parental drinking on children. There was an important paper produced by The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children of Alcoholics and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and much debate on what is being called PAM ‘parental alcohol misuse’ and the effect that heavy and dependent drinking can have on our children .

The report reveals that alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014. In addition, 15% of children had their bedtime routine disrupted due to their parents’ drinking and 18% were embarrassed at seeing their parent drunk.

The briefing identifies that Parental Alcohol Misuse can negatively affect children’s physical and mental health, and other outcomes including educational attainment and behaviour, especially when experienced with other adverse experiences such as domestic abuse, marital conflict, and deprivation.  It is estimated that between 189,000 and 208,000 children in England live with an alcohol-dependent adult, while 15,500 children live with an adult receiving treatment for alcohol dependence. There is a helpline being set up for children who are affected joining services available from Childline (tel: 0800 1111) and DrinkLine (tel: 0300 123 1110). 

Most of us, happily, if we do drink, do so responsibly. It is worth thinking about the example we set to our children though, especially when socialising as there is increasing evidence to show that the more ‘ permissive’ we are about alcohol in our homes, the more likely our children are to drink outside of the home, which is where riskier drinking is likely to take place. It makes sense really – it’s a ‘well Mum or Dad don’t mind’ or ‘I’m used to drinking at home, so I can have more here' attitude.

The Millennium Cohort study

We’re really pleased to say though, that it looks like the average age of a whole alcohol drink has nudged up slightly to age 14 according to the latest data from the Millennium cohort, up from age thirteen. This is really encouraging as we know that the younger a teenager is when they start drinking whole drinks, especially outside of the home, the more likely they are to smoke, try drugs, engage in risky or unprotected sex or be involved in an accident/injure themselves.

If we could nudge that up even higher to 15/16 it would make a huge difference as not only are teenagers more physically mature and able to metabolise alcohol better, but they are more likely to make mature decisions and choices. We do always emphasise that the home is absolutely the right place and parents/carers are the right people to ensure our children learn to drink responsibly if they choose to drink, however – it’s the age and amount that we’re trying to influence! There’s a world of difference too between a small amount on a special occasion and ‘ whole drinks’, or sending your teenager off to a party with a four pack of cider etc. Do take a look at the parent/carer area of our website for all sorts of advice via – the most visited pages are alcohol and the law and hosting teenage parties – lots of tips and advice for you. But do get in touch directly via and we will confidentially respond to any concerns you may have.

According to the Millennium Cohort Study, just under half of young people in the UK had tried alcohol at age14, with just one in ten binge drinking, these numbers have halved in a decade. Researchers at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, part of the UCL Institute of Education, examined data from more than eleven thousand 14 year olds about their experiences of a range of different risky activities, including drinking, smoking and drug-taking. Rates of binge drinking increased from 1% at age 11 to almost 11% at age 14. 3% of survey participants had tried a cigarette at age 11, but this increased to 17% by age 14 and around 6% of 14-year-olds had taken drugs, mostly in the form of cannabis. This is why we talk about the tipping point of age 12/13 ( year 8) as the key time for alcohol and drug education in school, what we call ‘the tipping point’, when children look away from their family and more towards older years in school and the idea of drinking and parties becomes more aspirational.

Generally, risk-taking activities of all types were more common among teenage boys than teenage girls- although hospital data shows us more underage girls go to hospital with alcohol admissions that boys - and were less common among teens from ethnic minority groups. Interestingly, risky activities were much less common among teenagers in Northern Ireland, where rates were considerably lower for drinking, smoking and drug-taking. 14-year-olds who had reached or been through puberty, and also those who identified as being gay or bisexual, were more likely to drink, smoke and/or take drugs. Teens were also at greater risk of taking up these activities if they were from a single parent family or had parents who drank frequently or took drugs. The report found that parents’ education neither increased nor decreased the odds of their teenage children smoking and/or drinking. Worryingly,17% of boys and 8% of girls had gambled in the previous four weeks, a new trend. You can read more via : or

News from the AET

Inspiring Wellbeing Awards 2018

On the 20th February, we were thrilled to walk away with a highly commended award for making an outstanding contribution to wellbeing. 'It really is lovely to have our work recognised nationally,' Helena Conibear commented, 'we were thrilled to win this award, it is recognition that we do not just provide information and guidance but really equip teenagers to lead happier, healthier lives by learning through enjoyable interactive activities that build resilience and self-reliance.’

Trustees and Staff Update

We are very sad to say goodbye to Gordon Redley who has gallantly been our Chair of Trustees since the Alcohol Education was founded in 2009. Gordon, as a career Head Teacher, has been a fantastic Chair and has made many valuable contributions to the work of the Trust. We would like to say a huge thank you to Gordon for all of his support and hard work. He will be missed greatly by us all. We are very pleased that Victoria McDonaugh, who again is a founding Trustee, is our new Chair. Victoria brings a wealth of experience as a retired Head of Department of a busy London comprehensive. She is a former High Sheriff of Dorset and is a Deputy Lieutenant involved with many charities and fund raising locally and internationally.

We are pleased to welcome David Cox, Stephen Foster and Linzi Isaacs MBE as new trustees, bringing a range of skills to our Board – a former CEO of a larger charity, former Head of Safeguarding and Education Services for the Dorset Fire Service and legal expertise!. We also welcome Libby Gaulton who joins us as our Partnership Manager and will focus on fundraising for us. You can contact Libby on . She’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be involved in any aspect of our work!

Fundraising thanks

As always, we are so grateful for the support of donations towards our work. We would like to say a big thank you to Dorchester Choral Society who generously held a collection for us and the Weldmar Hospice at their community singing day in February.

Huge thanks also go to Liverpool Victoria and Nicola Dunning for their very kind support in raising funds and match funding and to Ansvar insurance for not only supporting our work with The Rock Challenge events all over the country again this year, but in supplying an auction gift of lunch for two at Chewton Glen for our fund raising dinner at The HIX Academy on the 17th March. On that note we have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy tea for two with the Right Honourable Sir Oliver Letwin MP at The House of Commons and we are very grateful to him for his ongoing support. If you’d like make a bid for this promise please email

Our final thank yous this month must go to Poundbury Wealth Management and to Epic Print for their wonderful support.

Parent outreach update from Kathryn, Northern Coordinator

What a fantastic start to 2018 with over 20 parent sessions booked in already. It is so great to attend a variety of different types of parent sessions. I attended 5 during January reaching about 500 parents, these were held at Brineleas School in Nantwich, Airdale Academy in Castleford, St Wilfrids in Manchester, Ilkley Grammar School, and the Grange School in Northwich. Attendance was excellent at all of the events.

Ilkley Grammar School hosted a Parent Wellbeing evening and students performed a short play on mental health, over 100 parents came along and the formal presentation ended with a market place stall event where I was able to have some good discussions with parents, offering tips on how to talk to their child about alcohol.

I was delighted to attend the Grange School in Northwich, another Parent Well Being evening with about 150 parents, focusing on mental health and e-safety. This was followed by a drinks and nibbles reception where parents had access to information stalls - a wonderful opportunity for parents to have 1-1 chats and take part in our Qwizdom parent perception quiz.

I'm looking forward to working across North Yorkshire over the next couple of months, delivering parent sessions to North Yorkshire Foster Carers. In addition to this, I will be working in partnership with Forward Leeds and Barca, delivering a bespoke session for parents of children attending Leeds High Schools.

Please do encourage your school or youth club to host our informal and supportive ‘ Talking to kKds about Alcohol’ events by emailing .

AET resources comprise of and a Teacher Workbook, booklets ‘Alcohol and You’ for 15yrs+ and ‘Talking to Your Kids About Alcohol’ parent and carer guide.
We also offer teacher CPD workshops and parent information talks.

For further information on any of the above please contact
Helena Conibear, Founder, Director
Kathryn Arnott-Gent, Parent and Schools Coordinator - N Region
Helen Dougan, SE Region & SEND Coordinator
Kate Hooper, Schools Coordinator

Victoria McDonaugh, MA (Hons), PGCE
Christina Benjamin, BSc (Hons), PGCE
David Cox
Kate Larard, MSc, HV, RM, SRN
Keith Newton, ACA
Alison Winsborough, BMus, PGCE
Stephen Foster
Linzi Isaacs, BEd, MBE
The Alcohol Education Trust - Frampton House - Frampton - Dorchester - Dorset - DT2 9NH
01300 320869
Registered Charity Number: 1138775 -

Facebook Twitter