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GOVERNMENT TACKLES DRUGS IN SCHOOLS

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Education minister Ivan Lewis today declared an all-out offensive ...
Education minister Ivan Lewis today declared an all-out offensive

on drugs in schools.

At a drugs summit at the department for education and skills with

leading specialists Mr Lewis promised help for teachers and spelt out

the clear message that there was no place for drugs in schools.

Amongst the measures promised by the minister are:

- Getting tough on the dealers - zero tolerance for those caught

supplying drugs within school gates

- Training for teachers - All new teachers will undertake

training in drugs education by September 2002

- New powers for OfSTED - who will be tasked to formally assess

the standard of drugs education in secondary schools

- Support for teachers - practical guidance and a new website for

teachers will be launched in the summer

- Shock tactics - a new look at how these can be effectively used

when targeted at certain age groups and within a wider educational

framework

- Discussion with home office - to look at new measures to tackle

drug dealing in the vicinity of schools and which is targeted at

young people of school age

- Getting parents involved - new guidance for parents with

emphasis on supporting headteachers in behaviour and drugs policies

will be produced

- Alcohol education - will be given a higher priority, tackling

the issue of under age drinking which can often contribute to

anti-social behaviour

Ivan Lewis said:

'We have to send out a clear message that drugs, drug takers and drug

dealers have absolutely no place in school as well as ensuring that

young people are fully educated about the effects of their use.

'We cannot expect children and young people to make the right

decisions in a moral vacuum or without adequate information so I am

determined that we take a tough and clear stance on this issue.

'Drug misuse is at the heart of some of our society's most

intractable and serious problems. There is a strong causal link

between addiction and violent and other forms of crime. It can lead

to serious health problems and in certain circumstances to the tragic

death of someone like Rachel Whitear whose parents I am meeting

today. We have a duty to ensure that young people know that.'

NOTES

This Press Notice applies to England.

1) A broad cross-section of sector representatives will be attending

the summit, including headteachers, education specialists, drug

workers and young people.

2) The department for education and skills will issue new guidance

to enable schools to encourage parents' participation in drugs

education classes. Drugs experts will be consulted in drawing up this

guidance.

3) The DfES has a commitment to ensure that by September 2002, all

permanently excluded young people will receive suitable fulltime

education. Where a young person has been permanently excluded, this

will trigger a referral to a Connexions Personal Adviser, who will

ensure that a referral is made to the appropriate agency to support

that young person and ensure they receive the right help to tackle

their problems.

4) Drug, alcohol and tobacco education is a statutory part of the

National Curriculum Science Order. Currently it provides that:

- at Key Stage 1, 5-7 year olds should learn about the role of

drugs as medicines

- at Key Stage 2, 7-11 year olds should learn that alcohol,

tobacco and other drugs can have harmful effects

- at Key Stage 3, 11-14 year olds should learn how the misuse of

solvents, tobacco and other drugs affects health

- at Key Stage 4, 14-16 year olds should learn about the effects

of solvents, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs on body functions

DRUG DEALERS

Line on action being taken in England:

1. No plans in Wales to make the video available to schools.

2. Guidance in Wales (circular 3/99) is currently under review. Following the Disaffection Conference in Swansea last autumn the minister has decided to commission some 'task and finish' groups to address specific issues - substance misuse will be one of the areas .

3. Next month we will be launching our new circular on substance misuse education. The circular Substance Misuse: Children and Young People' gives guidance to teachers and youth workers and people involved in voluntary youth organisations on:

* drawing up a substance misuse policy

* good practice on teaching children and young people about the dangers of substance misuse

* guidance on dealing with incidents of substance misuse.

Background

Our current guidance on Permanent exclusions states that a decision to exclude a child permanently should be taken only:

- in response to very serious breaches of a school's discipline policy. It would be up to the school but I think most schools would judge drug dealing to be a serious matter.

On substance misuse it says that exclusion should not automatically be seen as the first and only option. Permanent exclusion may be a necessary response in some cases. In other cases, fixed term exclusions may be more appropriate. Whatever course of action is embarked upon schools need to ensure that the needs of the individuals is taken into account. It is for school's to decide what action to take based on their own school's Policy on Substance Misuse. Exclusion should be seen as only one of many responses.

Our guidance contains the remit of the appeal panel. The appeal panel must take into account all relevant factors. When considering their decision, the appeal panel must also consider the broader interests of those in the school. It does not contain guidance specifically on drug dealing.

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