Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Exclusions from School

The media focus on pupils’ behaviour has prompted me to take a look at figures produced by the DCSF on permanent and fixed term exclusion. As we know exclusion is a significant risk factor for young people’s use of drugs; research we covered back in 2007 found:

evidence that excluded children are more likely to use drugs. Around half of children excluded from school admit to using illicit drugs, compared with 15% of all children.

I’ve done what I usually do when faced with a table and turned the figures into something visual. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: exclusions

Exclusions expose scale of underage drinking

The Observer:

According to an analysis of school exclusions placed in the parliamentary library over the summer recess by the Department for Schools, Children and Families, 2,000 pupils were permanently excluded and 40,000 temporarily excluded for drug and alcohol-related incidents during the past four years.

Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, is quoted by the paper saying:

‘We need to confront this problem now by providing the support parents need to show their children how to drink alcohol responsibly in the home.’

The story has been followed up by the Daily Mail:

A total of 1,930 primary and secondary school children were expelled and a further 39,890 suspended between 2003-04 and the end of the 2006-07 year, the latest period for which figures are available.

And the Sun:

Figures also revealed HALF A MILLION under-18s said they had been able to buy alcohol in bars.

And 47 per cent of youngsters who drank regularly admitted committing criminal offences.

On a similar theme the BBC has been reporting on how schools are using their powers to exclude pupils:

More than 340 children are suspended for violence against other pupils every school day in England, figures highlighted by the Tories show.

Official data shows 65,390 pupils were temporarily excluded for violence against their classmates in 2006-7.

More here.

Filed under: exclusions

Primary schools suspend 1,000 under-sixes

The Telegraph:

Yesterday, a survey of half of England’s 150 local education authorities showed that the problem of bad behaviour started as soon as children joined reception classes.

The statistics – obtained under the Freedom of Information Act – showed that on more than 1,000 occasions, children aged four and five were temporarily barred from school last year.

The vast majority were for verbal and physical attacks on fellow pupils and teachers as well as for persistent disruptive behaviour.

Many pupils aged five to 11 were also suspended for sexual misconduct, racist abuse and drug and alcohol-related incidents. An estimated 370 were suspended for racist actions, 295 were barred for sexual misconduct and there were 73 drug and alcohol-related incidents.

They go on to estimate that if the patern they found were true of the whole country there would have been 48,000 primary school suspensions last year, up from 43,720 the year before.

Filed under: exclusions,

Heads face tougher rules on exclusion

The Observer point to two legal challenges to the level of evidence needed by schools to exclude a pupil:

Headteachers will find it much more difficult to exclude children they suspect of serious offences such as drug dealing, carrying a knife or violent bullying if a major legal challenge is successful in the High Court.

Lawyers say that children accused of the most serious wrongdoing are not being given a ‘fair trial’ and that government regulations are incompatible with the European Human Rights Act. If they win, a new regime would see schools facing the same stringent legal standards as those used in criminal courts.

This follows a case brought in 2006 which challenged exclusion based on possession of illegal drugs.

(via the NUT)

Filed under: exclusions,

Exclusion for Drugs

The Daily Express:

A leading headteacher has backed a zero tolerance approach to the “evil” of drugs, warning that pupils must not be given a second chance if they are caught taking cannabis.

Anthony Seldon, a well-known writer and the master of Wellington College, said even cannabis, which has been portrayed as a softer drug, could ruin people’s lives. He criticised the Government’s approach to illegal drugs as too lenient.

He goes on to say that since introducing his policy of permanent exclusion he’s not had to use it.

The BBC also have the story on their website.

Of course Dr Seldon is a headmaster in an independent school so he doesn’t need to take account of government guidance on exclusion for drug and alcohol issues.  But heads in the state sector will know that it says:

A decision to exclude a child permanently is a serious one.  Permanent exclusion should usually be the final step in the process for dealing with disciplinary offences after a wide range of other strategies have been tried without success. Supplying an illegal drug is a serious breach of school rules and it may be one of the exceptional circumstances where the headteacher judges that it is appropriate to permanently exclude a pupil, even for a one-off or first-time offence. In making this judgement the headteacher should have regard to the school’s policy on drugs and consider the precise circumstances of each case, including the nature of the incident and the evidence available. This may also include the precise nature of the supply (see section 5.1).

Where pupils are permanently excluded for supplying an illegal drug, repeated possession and/or use of an illegal drug on school premises, the Secretary of State would not normally expect the governing body or an independent appeal panel to reinstate the pupil.

Last year saw recorded exclusions for drug and alcohol issues fall.

Filed under: cannabis, exclusions,

Misspent youth – The costs of truancy and exclusion

The Independent carries a story about the economic impact of truancy from schools and some research that’s been done looking at this.

Martin Brooks, New Philanthropy Capital’s director of research, said: “Children who truant waste their potential, which is itself a tragedy. But truancy also wastes a massive amount of taxpayers’ money.”Cutting the number of exclusions by one quarter would pay for a doubling of the spending on books. These are fantastic returns from investing in charities that bring a fresh approach to the problem.”

The research can be found here. The report notes:

There is also evidence that excluded children are more likely to use drugs. Around half of children excluded from school admit to using illicit drugs, compared with 15% of all children. Greater drug use is clearly a health risk and increases the likely costs created by excluded children to the NHS.

Looking at prevention initiatives they say the following about School-Home Support:

The results showed significant reductions in self-reported theft, truancy, bullying, hard drug use and exclusions.

Truants cost economy £800m a year – Independent Online Edition > News

Filed under: exclusions, research, risk and protective factors

Schools expelling more primary pupils

The Guardian have figures on the numbers of primary aged pupils in England who have been excluded. They say:

150 children were given suspensions for drug and alcohol-related incidents.

To put that figure into context they say 43,720 children under 11 had fixed term exclusions (suspensions), and 1,090 primary school children in England were permanently excluded (expelled) from school.

The DfES say there are 3.5 million children at primary school in England.

The same story in The Daily Mail.

Filed under: exclusions, school drug policy

Fewer exclusions for drugs and alcohol incidents in schools

The Press Association have a story about increases in exclusions for racist abuse which has been picked up by 24dash.com.

The story also says:

Suspensions for drug and alcohol abuse fell by 9%, the figures revealed.

I wonder whether this is due to an increased focus by the whole school community on drug policies in schools.

According to the last figures I’ve seen 79% of schools had reviewed their drug education policy in the last 2 years and these will have been informed by the sensible DfES guidance on drugs.

It’s a thought.

Filed under: exclusions

Getting It. Getting It Right

My thanks to Adrian King for doing the detective work on finding Getting It. Getting It Right, that I tried and failed to find last week.

You’ll recall the report looks at the links between the use of exclusions and ethnicity. It concludes:

Every year 1000 Black pupils are permanently excluded and nearly 30,000 receive a Fixed Period Exclusion.

On average, these pupils will:

  • be one third less likely to achieve 5 A*- C at GCSE;
  • be 3% more likely to be unemployed;
  • experience a reduction of £36,000 in lifetime earnings;
  • be more likely to commit crimes, commit serious crime and to re-offend;
  • be more likely to smoke, drink and take drugs.

Filed under: education, ethnicity, exclusions

Drink and drugs pupils excluded

The BBC have been looking at the numbers of children excluded from school as a result of drink or drug issues:

Hundreds of pupils in the East Midlands have been suspended or expelled from school because of drink or drugs, the BBC has learned.

Figures obtained using the Freedom of Information Act showed 775 pupils were excluded for drink or drugs in the year 2005/06, with 48 permanent exclusions.

The punishments were for those caught with or selling drugs or alcohol.

There is the following table showing exclusions by county:

EM exclusions

Its only if you read on that the news becomes a bit better:

Figures were down on previous years with 814 excluded across the region in 2003/04 and 792 in the 2004/05 year.

The DfES guidance to schools on the use of exclusions:

Fixed-period exclusion
Exclusion should only be considered for serious breaches of the school’s behaviour policy, and should not be imposed without a thorough investigation unless there is an immediate threat to the safety of others in the school or the pupil concerned. It should not be used if alternative solutions have the potential to achieve a change in the pupil’s behaviour and are not detrimental to the whole school community.

In some cases fixed-period exclusion will be more appropriate than permanent exclusion. It is the responsibility of the school to set work for a pupil during a fixed period of exclusion. Arrangements may be made to include drug education, and to ensure that any work set by the school and returned is carefully assessed. Schools should, jointly with the LEA, ensure that suitable, full-time alternative education other than the setting and marking of work is planned and provided in the case of longer fixed period exclusions of more than 15 school days.

Permanent exclusion
A decision to exclude a child permanently is a serious one. Permanent exclusion should usually be the final step in the process for dealing with disciplinary offences after a wide range of other strategies have been tried without success. Supplying an illegal drug is a serious breach of school rules and it may be one of the exceptional
circumstances where the headteacher judges that it is appropriate to permanently exclude a pupil, even for a one-off or first-time offence. In making this judgement the headteacher should have regard to the school’s policy on drugs and consider the precise circumstances of each case, including the nature of the incident and the evidence available. This may also include the precise nature of the supply (see section 5.1).

Where pupils are permanently excluded for supplying an illegal drug, repeated possession and/or use of an illegal drug on school premises, the Secretary of State would not normally expect the governing body or an independent appeal panel to reinstate the pupil.

Filed under: exclusions, school drug policy,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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