The new Youth Alcohol Action Plan was launched this week to tackle the growing number of school-age binge-drinkers.
Alcohol consumption among children between the ages of 11 and 15 has risen from an average of five units per week in 1990 to more than 11 in 2006. Thirty-five per cent of these pupils say that they drink purely in order to get drunk.
The plan's recommendations include parenting support for families where children between the ages of 8 and 13 are involved in anti-social behaviour. These are the children most at risk of binge-drinking. And the Department for Children, Schools and Families will commission research on how to improve the alcohol-education element of PSHE lessons.
The plan states: "Alcohol education is crucial ... Ofsted reports show that its delivery and quality could be improved." It also says: "Young people sometimes say they drink because there is nothing else for them to do in their spare time." It suggests that offering pupils a range of extra-curricular activities will help reduce their alcohol consumption.
Ed Balls, Children, Schools and Families Secretary, said: "We need a culture change about drinking. We need to fundamentally influence young people's behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol."
The Youth Alcohol Action Plan is at: www.dcsf.gov.ukpublications.