Reducing the Odds

Despite more opportunities than ever for young people to gamble, particularly online, tools to help prevent gambling harms are not currently being provided in schools.

For the past two years, Demos developed and tested a pilot education programme to teach children about the risks of gambling, and where to go for help and support. The lessons were designed to build up the resilience of teenagers to the tactics that gambling companies use to encourage people to gamble. Educating the pupils about concepts such as “delayed gratification” helped to improve their understanding of the nature of gambling and how to make good decisions when in any risky situation.

The four lessons were taught in selected schools across the country, as part of the PSHE curriculum for 14-year-olds, reaching 650 pupils. To evaluate the pilot, Demos observed five lessons, conducted a tracked pre- and post- survey over 12 months for pupils at participating schools and nearby comparison schools where the lessons were not given, and held focus groups with pupils and teachers in participating schools during the Autumn term of 2016.

Over the 12 months, Demos observed a statistically significant decline in the proportion of pupils playing cards for money – with a net decline of seven percentage points relative to the comparison group. Demos saw the most substantial changes, relative to the comparison school, in pupils being able to describe ways to help someone experiencing gambling problems, where there was a net 20 percentage point increase in the proportion of pupils at participating schools relative to the comparison school being able to do so.

Encouragingly, more than 100 schools expressed an interest in taking part in Demos’ pilot, signalling a significant awareness of the risks posed to young people from gambling harms.

Read the report in full here.

The educational resources produced by Demos, in partnership with Mentor and PSHE Association are available to download.

Teacher Resource booklet

Lesson slides