Where is vaping covered in our materials?

Sep 26, 2022 11:00:53 AM

It is important that the starting point for health and wellbeing education should be a focus on enabling pupils to make well-informed, positive choices for themselves”.

Department for Education statutory Health Education guidance

This principle has always been at the heart of drug education, which in turn has been an integral part of PSHE education for over thirty years. Good drug education covers factual knowledge(e.g. about effects and laws applying to various substances) but also essential skills and attributes including how to manage peer influence and make informed decisions.

Priorities change over time regarding which substances schools feel they should teach about – for example, new figures from NHS Digital show a decrease in numbers of school children taking drugs and smoking cigarettes but a rise in vaping, with 9% of 11 to 15 year olds currently using e-cigarettes. This is reflected in the volume of queries we get from members on vaping, so we’re keen to ensure schools have what they need to cover this topic with confidence. That’s why we’re reviewing the evidence base and working to provide everything you need, so watch this space!

In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to building teaching about vaping into your existing PSHE education programme using our Programme of Study and materials such as our drug and alcohol education pack.

Programme of Study

Our Programme of Study for PSHE education is signposted from statutory DfE Health Education guidance and gives you a framework for designing PSHE education that matches your pupils’ needs.

The learning opportunities set out in the Programme of Study are broad and ‘top level’, so don’t necessarily mention specific substances. However, there are explicit references to vaping and e-cigarettes in the Key stage 2 section under the 'health and wellbeing' core theme.
Learning Opportunities at KS2

H49. about the mixed messages in the media about drugs, including alcohol and smoking/vaping

H46. about the risks and effects of legal drugs common to everyday life (e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes/vaping, alcohol and medicines) and their impact on health; recognise that drug use can become a habit which can be difficult to break

There are several learning opportunities in the Programme of Study for key stages 3 to 5 that also provide ideal vehicles for exploring issues around vaping, including:


H25. strategies to manage a range of influences on drug, alcohol and tobacco use, including peers

H26. information about alcohol, nicotine and other legal and illegal substances, including the short-term and long-term health risks associated with their use

H27. the personal and social risks and consequences of substance use and misuse including occasional use


H18. the ways in which industries and advertising can influence health and harmful behaviours

H21. to identify, manage and seek help for unhealthy behaviours, habits and addictions including smoking cessation


H21. to manage alcohol and drug use in relation to immediate and long-term health


See our Programme Builders for more detail on how to include these learning opportunities in your PSHE curriculum for each year group.

Drug and alcohol education lesson pack

Our suite of lesson plans for key stages 1 to 4 on drug and alcohol education explore the facts, laws, risks and consequences associated with the use of substances of all kinds. They also address how to manage influences and pressure around substance use, supporting pupils to keep themselves healthy and safe.

The strategies, skills and personal attributes developed through all of these lessons support pupils to manage pressures, influences and decisions about vaping, as much as they do for any other substance. But lesson 2 of the key stage 3 lessons specifically supports pupils to understand and manage influences relating to tobacco and nicotine product use.

"Role models and the media can influence decision-making. While vaping is far less harmful than smoking, it is not risk free. Both can be addictive mostly due to the presence of nicotine and the ease of which it can be taken and become part of someone’s daily routine. Quitting therefore can be difficult, costly and require several attempts to be successful"