Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Parliamentary Questions

Charles Walker, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne, has put down a couple of questions to the DCSF.  On drug testing in schools he asks:

what support is available from his Department to schools which wish to introduce voluntary drug testing; and if he will make a statement.

In reply Sarah McCarthy-Fry says:

The Department’s guidance, Drugs: Guidance for Schools (DFES 2004) makes it clear that head teachers can introduce voluntary drug testing if they consider that such an approach is appropriate. It is essential that before a school takes the decision to introduce drug testing that it considers very carefully all of the factors outlined in the guidance, including whether such action will result in appropriate support for pupils most in need. In deciding whether to use this approach, schools are encouraged to consult with local partners, such as the police, who may be able to offer advice and support.

What she doesn’t say is that when they asked Sir Alan Steer to look at the idea of drug testing in schools last year he came back and said:

Random drug testing isn’t likely to be effective and the government shouldn’t run a pilot.

Mr Walker also asks if the government:

will commission research on the effect of cannabis use on academic outcomes; and if he will make a statement.

To which Beverley Hughes says:

We are committed to tackling all of the harms associated with cannabis use, including poor school performance or disengagement from education. Although there is no specific research currently planned on the effects of cannabis use on academic outcomes, we will keep this under review as part of our work in relation to developing a cross-Government drugs research strategy. Through delivery of the National Drugs Strategy we will continue to drive the sustained fall in cannabis use amongst young people that we have experienced since 2001.

Luckily for us we don’t have to wait for government research as there’s some about already.  Susan Greenfield made a number of references to the accademic literature in her piece for the TES a few years ago (which provoked some debate on this blog), and the JRF also have a very pertinent paper on this subject.

Update – I’ve done a bit more digging and see that Mr Walker is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cannabis and Children.

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Filed under: cannabis, Parliament, random drug testing

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