A thinktank has called for the DfE to use lessons it has developed to help the estimated 25,000 children believed to be problem gamblers.
The thinktank Demos worked with the charity GambleAware to pilot lessons in secondary schools to prevent gambling-related problems among school-age children.
Four such lessons were taught to 650 pupils aged 14 in selected secondary schools as part of the PSHE curriculum. Of these pupils, 41 per cent said they had gambled within the previous year.
Of these, 21 per cent said they had used money to place bets, 17 per cent had played fruit machines, and 14 per cent had played cards for money.
However, only 14 per cent of the pupils surveyed had been taught about gambling in school before the pilot.
The lessons were designed to teach the risks of gambling, and where to go for help and support, as well as helping build their resilience to tactics used by gambling companies to encourage people to gamble.
Learning about addiction
Follow up research found there was a seven percentage point fall in pupils playing cards for money when compared to nearby schools where the lessons were not given.
It also found a 20 percentage point increase in pupils being able to describe ways to help someone with gambling problems, and a 10 percentage point rise in the number who understood the tactics used by the gambling industry.
One pupil said: “At first gambling seemed like quite a rare thing but we didn't realise how easy it is to get addicted. And how bad it could be, but we learnt that I think.”
Last year, the Gambling Commission said 25,000 children aged between 11 and 16 were problem gamblers.
Simone Vibert, social policy researcher at Demos, called on schools and government “to use these resources to help develop the skills and resilience of pupils, confident in the knowledge that they have been proven to make a difference”.
GambleAware director of education Jane Rigbye, said: “We hope the success of this project will support that case for gambling and the risks it poses to be included in the PSHE curriculum in schools in the future.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We know that high quality financial education is key to making sure that young people have the knowledge and financial skills to make important decisions later in life.
"That is why we have introduced a rigorous new citizenship curriculum and, for the first time in 2014, made financial literacy statutory within the national curriculum – it is now taught as part of the citizenship curriculum for 11 to 16 year olds.
"Pupils are taught the functions and uses of money, the importance of personal budgeting, money management and the need to understand financial risk.”