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Cannabis use in secondary school

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by sportie, Sep 29, 2018.

  1. sportie

    sportie New commenter

    we have a small but significant number of students who the school know are smoking cannabis . Staff think they are probably doing it at school during lunch but no proof....not sure they're looking very hard but that's another issue. Does anyone know if you can refuse to teach them if you suspect they are under the influence? Thanks
  2. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    Difficult to make that accusation of suspecting a student is under the influence of cannabis.

    I would just respond to the behaviour they exhibit - if they are behaving poorly (which you think is down to drug use) then follow the school's behaviour policy and remove them if needed. I would also report your suspicions as a safeguarding issue.
  3. install

    install Star commenter

    If you suspect call first aid or a behaviour manager fast - but discretely. Then get a second opinion quietly and not too obviously. :cool:
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  4. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Whilst in my GTP teaching year I had a class which had three students in who were a nightmare, really disruptive and quite violent kicking doors, chucking chairs about, that sort of thing.

    Except on Friday afternoon, when they were no trouble at all, eyes as big as saucers. Didn't get much work done but no trouble.

    I took my suspicions to the DH who said

    Him "What are they like normally?"
    Me "a nightmare"
    Him "What are they like on Fridays?"
    Me" no problem at all"
    Him "lets leave it there then".
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    You have no right to refuse to teach the children on this basis.
    There is only one course of action for you if you suspect a child of cannabis use,and that is irrespective of the use being at school or otherwise, and that it is to pass the information on to the designated safeguarding officer.
    I'm not saying that cannabis per se is a danger, but I'm saying that the use of it overlaps with the realm of police involvement and access to people who supply the stuff, and therefore it is not really a matter for teaching staff to react to. Just pass it on. That is your professional duty, and I expect there is a clause in your contract obliging you to do so, the bit about reporting concerns. Cannabis, by dint of it's legal status, is a concern.

    More flippantly, you cannot refuse to teach a child on a suspicion of having consumed something. This is because I personally frequently fancy the privilege of rejecting classroom participation by those who are pumped up on shart fizzy sugary drinks after lunch, and it would irk me no end to know you had barred kids just for looking a bit bleary and peckish. Or in other words, I'd rather teach a placidly stoned person than a hyper one who constantly interrupts and sporadically emits gas.
  6. daisy1603

    daisy1603 Occasional commenter

    One of my pupil’s came in as high as a kite one day. I passed the fact on to their head of year and let them deal with it. The pupil was suspended for 3 days.
    I felt a bit bad really as their behaviour was much improved while under the influence but when you realise their next lesson is DT and machinery is going to be used the consequences could be a bit more severe.
  7. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I presume you mean can you refuse o have them in the room? Not can you refuse to teach them, because teaching and learning isn't possible with a stoned student anyway, so it isn't a case of refusing to teach them, it is a case of them putting themselves in a position of being impossible to teach

    report to safe guarding, initiate a bag search, contact parents, etc.

    although in my experience most of the parents of stoned pupils have been stoned themselves when I rang them
  8. sportie

    sportie New commenter

    Thanks fir your replies and time. Safeguarding team know, SLT know, police know....I just wondered if there anything we could do as staff to 'encourage' SLT to take a bit more action?
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    What do you think the SLT need to do?

    I would have thought the parents need to be involved as well.

    Where do you think the students are smoking? In the toilets? In the play areas?

    Counselling the students instead of punishing them might be a way forward.

    If they can see that the school is trying to reach out and support them then they may respond.

    Other than that if they are disrupting your lessons, as others have said follow the school's behaviour policy and have them removed.

    If you have done everything you possible can to log it and report it and have followed the school's policy in connection with this issue, then you have done the best you can.

    Getting appropriate help for these students is what I would say is the most urgent issue here.

    The SLT can't control what goes on off the school premises, but they definitely need to ensure to the best of their ability drugs aren't on the school grounds.
    grumpydogwoman and phlogiston like this.
  10. thewritingsupply

    thewritingsupply Occasional commenter

    At one of my previous institutions, we had a totally incapable and weak SLT. At one time, students were caught dealing drugs on the premises (this wasn’t the norm, the general behaviour was good overall) and carrying a weapon in the building, no sanctions were given, and external agencies weren’t involved.

    Weak SLTa allow this type of behaviour to continue and often fail to appropriately sanction thouse involved, at least this was my experience.

    You’ve done all you can by passing this on to your SLT.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  11. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    bag searches, some random, some based on suspicions, followed by immediate permanent exclusion and reporting to police if cannabis is found.

    Its criminal, it makes it totally pointless for them to be in a learning environment because they can't learn, and it will draw more and more students in, ruining their education and life chances

    It is not something that can be allowed to happen in a school
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I have been in this situation. I asked the member of SLT on call to remove the pupils and phone the
    parents asking them to collect their child. I said I did not know it was cannabis and did not know what to do if there was some kind of medical incident. He refused to do this on the basis that he was the only member of SLT there that day. I said that as a parent I would want to know that my child had turned up after lunch having taken some kind of substance.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    There's a kind of pecking order of who deals with what. Clearly from your comments this is counter intuitive to you, and you want to do something about it yourself.
    But because the police involvement is, by definition, a serious matter with whole school implications for the HT, it's not really "in your place" to do anything.
    Besides which, it is highly likely that you don't really know exactly what is happening behind the scenes here. If the school know and SLT know and the police know, then it wont be at the front of their mind to let you know what's going on. In other words, you cannot really know what is being done even though you say you know. And any other action taken by you would possibly turn you into the extra cook who spoils the broth.
    Just do your bit by drip feeding written records of suspect behaviour/demeanour in your lessons so they always have the full picture. This is the correct way to "encourage" action. And even if you feel the ability to learn of a child under the influence is compromised, charge ahead with your lesson. We teach upset kids, hungry kids, disaffected kids, bereaved kids, psychotic kids. Delivering the curriculum to any stoned kids in this rich tapestry is all part of what you do as a classroom practitioner. They all inhibit their own learning to a certain degree with their foibles, and it must be second nature in your work to accommodate this and push them to do their best for that day. It's your job.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
    agathamorse, koopatroopa and pepper5 like this.
  14. install

    install Star commenter

    It sounds like your slt are not supportive or proactive in challenging students. Sadly, this has become the case in some schools - with some blatantly ignoring and leaving challenges to the teachers.

    Once this happens you have a staff not united or consistent or working together. So - just do what you can in the time afforded to you, no more and no less

    Just make sure the Safeguarding Officer has been informed by email - so it is in writing
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Here you go, from the DfE:

    Drugs: advice for schools

    'General power to confiscate

    Schools’ general power to discipline, as set out in Section 91 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, enables a member of staff to confiscate, retain or dispose of a pupil’s property as a disciplinary penalty, where reasonable to do so. Where the person finds other substances which are not believed to be controlled drugs these can be confiscated where a teacher believes them to be harmful or detrimental to good order and discipline. This would include new psychoactive substances or ‘legal highs’. If school staff are unable to identify the legal status of a drug, it should be treated as a controlled drug.
    Gov.uk, 10th September 2012.

    Unfortunately all the media chatter about legalisation of cannabis and its alleged medical benefits has, for many people, obscured the fact that cannabis possession is illegal. Schools would be foolish to tolerate criminality in any form, and also to ignore the damage that cannabis use can do to pupils' developing brains.
    install likes this.
  16. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Yes you can, and you should:

    Drugs: advice for schools

    'Responding to Drug Related Incidents


    If a pupil is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol on school premises, the school must prioritise the safety of the young person and those around them.If necessary it should be dealt with as a medical emergency, administering First Aid and summoning appropriate support. Depending on the circumstances, parents or the police may need to be contacted. If the child is felt to be at risk the Safeguarding Policy will come into effect and social services may need to be contacted.
    Gov.uk, 10th September 2012.
    install likes this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Oh, dear.

    At the charity where I volunteer there are courses for the young people. I no longer teach those courses but my lodger (who had to attend) said they were "all" grinding weed under the table! The attitude of the tutors is that it's better to have them do it in a safe space than turf them out. Apparently they never learned much. Every session turned into a debate on legalising drugs!

    I have nothing to add to your predicament. You can't refuse to teach them though. Just do what everyone else has advised.
  18. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    install likes this.
  19. install

    install Star commenter

    I agree - you can refuse and I would go about Personally, I would do after a second opinion and as discretely as possible. The last thing I would want would be a potential accident or death due to drugs .

    There are levels of refusal of course eg putting the child in first aid :cool:
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  20. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    It is a medical issue and the pupil should be removed for his/her own safety. When you think of the lengths schools go to accommodate all kinds of medical problems, some serious and some not so serious- I am thinking here is some of the claims some parents make about their children(!)- kids under the influence should be out somewhere safe. Who knows what else they have taken? Who knows if weed will set off some other reaction? Those SLT who say just leave them are failing in their duty of care.
    install and Vince_Ulam like this.

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