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Students smoking outside the school gates

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by aprilian, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Does anyone know what the rules are on students smoking outside the school gates? It has always been my understanding that the school is responsible for students on the way to school and from it. Whilst on duty at the gates, I witnessed several Year 11 students smoking. I advised them to go around the corner so that my colleague and I couldn't see them. They told me that it was nothing to do with the school as they were not standing directly in front of the gates but outside the neighbouring house. I told them that I would check this with the pastoral team. I was advised by them that the school was not responsible and could deliver no sanctions unless it was on school premises - this didn't include the area outside of the school gates. Later in the day, I was approached by a couple of the students, who told me that they'd checked with the Vice Principal, who had told them that it wasn't the school's responsibility and there were no sanctions. They were very pleased with themselves. I am now unsure of my role of 'in loco parentis' as I wouldn't allow my own under-age children to smoke. I also thought it was against the law! My solution to the uncomfortable position of having to stand on duty and watch students smoke, which I feel undermines my professionalism, would be to fulfil my morning duty on the gate by standing inside it and dealing only with issues on the grounds - ignoring anything going on outside. Can anyone shed any light on this? Thanks.
  2. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    That's highly questionable at the moment. Gove's education white paper would, if passed, give schools some clearer authorities outside the gates, but I don't know if it covers smoking.
    No, it isn't. It's illegal for anyone under 18 to buy cigarettes, but it's not illegal for anyone to be in possession of them or to smoke.
    Though police officers in uniform and park keepers in uniform (within park grounds) have a legal duty to confiscate smoking materials from anyone 16 or under they see smoking.
    As teachers, it would seem that, at the moment anyway, if the kids choose to smoke off site, it's none of our business, though it could be argued we should be reporting it to the pastoral team and they might choose to inform parents.
  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    The law only makes it illegal to sell cigarettes to under eighteens. So it's not illegal to buy them, or indeed to smoke them until the cows come home, smelling of tobacco and needing milked.
    But that's not the issue. The school authority isn't defined by a geographical area. If you took them on a school trip, would you no longer have any authority over them? Of course not. You are, as you mention, in loco parentis, so be it. If they're in school uniform and they're in the area near the school, you can tell them that they're bringing the name of the school into disrepute, contravening your school rule on smoking...whatever you want to say it is.
    The idea that your authority ends at the front door is absurd; authority is a notion, an idea. You are free to sanction them as you please if they contravene a school specific rule as long as it is clearly defined and supported by the school line management team. It's no use if you detain them only to have the AHT tell you he's 'not sure' about it.
    That, I suspect will be your real battle. I know of many schools that enforce a no-smoking in uniform ban. Maybe you could try it?
    Good luck
  4. 03KILNERS

    03KILNERS New commenter

    When I worked in mainstream we use to report all students to the pastoral head who sent a letter to parents. This soon brought things into control.
  5. cupofteacher

    cupofteacher New commenter

    Hiya,I am currently on my GTP and we have recently had some training on teaching and the law, so will pass on merely what I was told!!
    We were informed that as teachers we hold no responsibility for students outside of school hours, and that we hold the same powers as the average citizen. However we were also told that whilst we cannot sanction or technically do anything outside of school, if the students are disreputing the school in any way this can be brought up during school time with the students.
    A common misconception that teachers are in loco parentis...literally translated means in the place of the parent. If we were in loco parentis, we would be able to treat students as if they were our children. i.e sending them to get milk from the shop. Of course we cannot do this, similarly we cannot physically discipline students which parents may feel appropriate.
    Instead I was told we have a duty of care, towards the safety welfare and education of the students.
    All of this information was given to me by a union rep, and is in a handbook they gave me too. If I were you, I think I would have a chat with their head of year, and ask if they can do an assembly about smoking or such, so that then they are hopefully making a more informed choice. I know its difficult but would you feel the same if they were smoking outside tesco for example?
  6. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Er, of course we can.
    I have asked older pupils who are on their way to the shop at lunch to get me a bottle of milk. I usually let them keep the change.
  7. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    I understand you are trying to offer a practical solution but do you really believe that pupils are unaware that smoking is bad for them?
    It would not be the same. The pupils described by the OP are directly outside the school gates.

  8. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    I find your pastoral team's reaction staggering. It just sounds quite lazy.
    Most schools have something in their school/home agreement about conduct to and from school. So yes you should be able to tell them to stop smoking they are in school uniform for heaven's sake. We have certainly dealt with pupils using foul language, and being a nuisance and I am pretty sure when we find out about smoking on the way to school we deal with that as well. Your school should involve the police the find out who is selling cigarettes to them.
    If this is their reaction to smoking in uniform personally I would look for another job.
  9. cupofteacher

    cupofteacher New commenter

    Sorry that wasn't as clear as I meant it to be. This is the example given to us by a union rep when the students are not allowed off site during the school day.

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