This policy sets out in writing, the framework within which the whole school community manages issues in relation to substance use. A substance in this context includes alcohol, tobacco and both legal and illegal drugs. It is agreed that a drug is any chemical which alters how the body works or how the person behaves or feels.
This policy applies to: the entire school community, including teachers, students, parents/guardians and users of the school building.
This school is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to substance use. This school recognises that drugs, both legal and illegal are available in the local community and that the school, being part of this community, has and will have drug incidents which need to be handled in a consistent and sensitive way. This school also acknowledges that it has an important role to play in drug education both in terms of prevention and offering support to those who use drugs.
This policy is the result of a collaborative process in which all the partners in Education i.e. Staff, Management, Students and Parents, were consulted and had an opportunity to influence the final document.
1.2 The School Ethos
This school believes that the Personal and Social development of each member of the school community is important. Education flourishes in an environment where good relationships are encouraged, where people feel valued and respected and where there is genuine tolerance, fairness and support for those in difficulty. This philosophy underpins and informs all the work we do and is central to this policy document.
This policy is part of a general pastoral approach being adopted by the school to ensure a healthy, caring and supportive learning environment. The Substance Use policy is one among many that serve to incarnate the school’s ethos.
The Board of Management supports the underlying principles.
- It recognises and accepts the seriousness of various research findings regarding the problems associates with drugs misuse.
- The school policy aims to co-operate fully with the strategic plan adopted by the government under the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 and made mandatory to schools in Circular 18/02.
- The Education Act 1998 provides that schools promote the social and personal education of students and provide health education for them.
2.1 School Policy
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine does not accept or tolerate the possession, use, or supply of banned or prohibited substances and/or drug paraphernalia by any student on the school premises, on school trips and outings, or during any school-related activity.
The school does not permit smoking or vaping in the school or school grounds.
The only exceptions are for properly prescribed drugs and parents must inform the school in writing of that fact. The school does not dispense any medication to students except in the exceptional case where this has been agreed in advance with parents.
3.1 Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs Education Programmes
The School is committed to providing a comprehensive drug education programme for all students which will be incorporated into the Social and Personal Health Education Programme currently running in the school. The topic may also be addressed in Religious Education, CSPE, Science, P.E., etc.
Our educational aims in relation to drug education are:
- To increase the self-esteem and confidence of the young people
- To equip young people with personal and social skills
- To enable young people to make informed, healthy and responsible choices
- To provide honest and age appropriate information on drugs
- To minimise the harm caused by drugs use by offering supportive interventions
These aims will be met through the following actions:
- All teachers involved in SPHE will be given the opportunity to avail of training in group facilitation skills and personal development.
- A Drug Co-ordinator will be appointed
- Staff teaching the Drug Education programmes will be given the opportunity to avail of training in the Substance Abuse Prevention Pack (SAPP) – “On My Own Two Feet” Department of Education and Science and the Department of Health and Children and Health.
- All teachers will be offered Drug Information and Drug Awareness training through regular In-Service training.
We believe that trained teachers are in the best position to carry out drug education but sometimes it may be appropriate to use an outside speaker to supplement or reinforce the work done in the class.
Parents are to be made aware and informed of what is happening in the school with regard to drug education. This will happen on a yearly basis. Parents will also be consulted yearly on the need for drug education and community courses will be made available to meet these demands.
The School encourages and welcomes consultation with parents on the best use of available resources in the community to support the school in its programme and policy implementation.
Role of Parents
Parents are asked to:
- Acknowledge the importance of these programmes
- Recognise that they are in partnership with the school in relation to informing and educating their children regarding Substance Abuse.
- Assist and co-operate fully with the school as it seeks to deal justly and effectively with any incidents that may arise.
4.1 Procedures for managing substance abuse incidents
In the event of an abuse incident, the school will seek to strike a balance between the welfare of the student or students involved and the welfare of the school community as a whole and the reputation of the school.
The following are examples of a drug incident:
- Emergencies when the person may be unconscious
- Intoxication / unusual behaviour
- Suspicion / rumour of drug use, possession or dealing
- Disclosure by another person
- Possession of a legal/illegal drug on the school premises or on a school related activity.
- Selling / Supplying legal / illegal drugs
- Person seeking help from member of staff
- School grounds being used for drug activity
- Drug paraphernalia found on school property
The procedure that the school will take in managing and investigating a Drug incident.
- Where it is apparent that there is immediate danger to students or the school community, the school reserves the right to suspend or remove temporarily from the school any student involved in a suspected abuse incident pending a further and complete investigation of the incident.
- The completion of an Abuse Incident Report Form. (Appendix 1)
- The school will take all the steps required to fully investigate and assess any abuse incident and will take whatever time it deems necessary to do this.
- The school will take possession of any banned or prohibited substances and drug paraphernalia associated with an abuse incident, carefully recording all such items and retaining them pending completion of the investigation, unless otherwise instructed by appropriate outside agencies.
- In the event of an incident, the school will seek statements from all persons involved in, concerned with, or having knowledge of the incident and will record these statements.
- The school will maintain a written record of all stages of the investigation of an incident, including records referred to in the above steps, communications with other people or agencies involved or concerned with the matters under investigation, the investigation outcome, decisions taken and the rationale for these decisions, any penalties or disciplinary measures imposed following an investigation, and the management and outcome of any appeal that may arise following an investigation.
- The school, at its own discretion, will liaise with any appropriate outside authority and seek advice or assistance as it deems appropriate in relation to its investigation of an incident.
- If the circumstances merit and the investigation is continuing, the school will put the full particulars of the incident to the students concerned and their parents in the following manner:
- Copies of all records deemed relevant to the position of the student concerned and to the nature of the complaints or allegations that a student is facing will be made available to the student and his parents – at the discretion of the school – in time to permit the student a reasonable opportunity to make his own reply to the matters at issue and any representations that he would wish to make or have made on his behalf.
- The school will allow the student concerned and his parents reasonable time to respond to the matters at issue. The school will take in to account any response so made and any other relevant extraneous considerations or mitigating circumstances that may be appropriate to the specific case.
- The school shall shortly thereafter inform the student and his parents of the school’s findings and their reasons for these. If the school finds that the student has been guilty of or involved or implicated in an incident, it shall indicate the penalty or sanctions that it intends to impose in the circumstances.
- In relation to a verified and investigated incident, the Board of Management may implement disciplinary actions or sanctions, including but not limited to – an oral warning, a written warning, a suspension of three days duration, other sanctions short of expulsion, and expulsion.
- The school can, at its sole discretion, postpone the issue of sanctions to take account of mitigating circumstances or representations that it considers should be taken into account. The school asserts the right to exercise an appropriate show of mercy.
- The school will ensure that pastoral supports are offered to the student/students and parents affected by an incident of substance abuse.
4.2 Procedures for dealing with students found in breach of school policy regarding tobacco/vaping.
- The incident is reported to Management verbally or through the Abuse Incident Report Form.
- The student is spoken to and cautioned by the Principal or Deputy Principal.
- A standard letter is sent to their parents/guardians informing them of the incident and explaining the potential legal consequences. e. a fine of €3000 etc.
- If there is a repeat of the offence, the parents/guardians are requested to come to the school to discuss it. Internal sanctions may be imposed by the school and/or by the parents. An undertaking by the student not to repeat the offence will be sought. The possibility of reporting this breach of state legislation to the relevant authorities would also be discussed.
- All documentation regarding the incident is held in the students file.
5.1 The involvement and roles of various parties in an incident investigation.
The Principal or his delegate is the person responsible for all matters relating to this area. He may nominate the Deputy Principal or Year Head or other nominated staff to act on his behalf in the investigation of a substance abuse incident.
The duties and responsibilities of the Principal (hereafter to be understood as meaning the Principal or his nominee) in this regard include the following:
- The Principal is responsible for dealing with abuse incidents arising at the school.
- All reports of abuse incidents or suspected incidents must be reported to the Principal.
- The Principal makes all decisions regarding investigation of an incident; communication with, liaison with, and reporting to relevant parties; and disclosure of information regarding an investigation.
- The Principal is responsible for keeping all relevant parties properly informed regarding investigation developments.
- The Principal is responsible for the secure and confidential storage of any written documentation and records associated with an incident.
- The Principal is responsible for taking possession of any banned or prohibited substances or drug paraphernalia and deciding what should be done with same upon appropriate advice.
- The Principal may seek the assistance of the Deputy Principal, Year Head, and/or Guidance Counsellor in conducting an incident investigation.
In the event of an abuse incident, the school will immediately inform parents, particularly where there is a concern regarding the health and welfare of a child and share any available information that may help parents in attending to their child’s health and wellbeing and will keep students informed about what is happening and why. Such actions will be undertaken without prejudice to the school’s separate and independent obligation to investigate and manage any abuse incident.
The school recognises the importance in limiting, as far as is practicable, the number of people involved in investigating and managing an abuse incident and it is the aim of the school only to involve those properly concerned with an incident. However, students and their parents must accept that;
- The duty of teachers and staff to the school community preclude them from offering total confidentiality to any students when they come in contact with an abuse incident or a suspected abuse incident.
- The school may be required in a given situation to contact, as appropriate, such authorities as the Gardai, Health Board, Probation Service, or Officers of the Courts.
- The school may need to engage the expert assistance of an appropriate third part to properly investigate an incident.
- The school may be duty bound to notify certain persons about an incident and/or the outcome of an incident investigation under statute, regulations, or DES guidelines.
- The Principal will handle all media queries. He will not comment on any individual matter when an investigation is in progress other than to outline the school’s policy and procedures for managing incidents.
- However, in the interests of the school’s reputation the Board of Management may clarify the school’s position regarding an incident after the investigation has been completely concluded.
6.1 Training and Development
The school will provide training for Staff, Board of Management, Parents and Students.
In relation to Staff the school:
- Will deliver training in delivering education programmes relating to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
- Specific training on the role of key staff in relation to the management and investigation of an abuse incident.
- First Aid training will be made available to all transition year students and staff
In relation to Parents and the Board of Management the school:
- Will provide opportunities to attend information sessions and workshops in relation to drugs and the Substance Use policy. Parents of incoming students will be given the information as part of the school’s induction programme.
- Will provide appropriate information, guidance, and support to the Board regarding issues relating to investigation of and adjudication on incident investigations.
In relation to the Students the school will:
- Offer all students programmes relating to alcohol, tobacco/vaping, and
Drug education within the context of the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate programmes. This will be mainly through the broader context of SPHE (Social and Personal Health Education) classes but may also occur in Science, PE or other areas. While the SPHE teacher is best placed to deliver the programme it may be useful to engage an outside visitor/speaker to enhance the work done in class.
7.1 Monitoring, reviewing and evaluating the policy
The policy will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that it is of practical benefit to the school, to ensure legal compliance and the maintenance of best practices.
The policy will be reviewed annually or in the light of changing information by the drug policy working group in consultation with the wider school community.
Teachers, parents, students and Board of Management will be involved in the evaluation of this policy when it has been in place for one year and any changes incorporated into amended policy. (See Appendices)
The three main areas of the policy we will evaluate are:
Drug Education Programmes
Managing Drug Related incidents
Parent, Staff and Management training and courses offered to the school community.
8.1 Dissemination of Policy
Copies of the policy will be disseminated to the school community. It will be available from the Principal’s office, the school Library and the school Website. It will be available to all new staff and parents of new children as part of their induction to the school.
Young people will be made aware of the policy as part of their drugs education within the context of a Social and Personal Health Education programme.
The ‘School’ includes school buildings, grounds, play areas, public areas where students congregate coming to and going from school, and any other specific area that might apply.
Banned and Prohibited Substances
A banned or prohibitive substance should include all substances covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and 1984, non-validated prescription medication, all alcohol, and tobaccos used contrary to the law of the land. The School reserves the right to determine that a substance found at the school qualifies as a banned or prohibited substance.
Any banned or prohibited substance as defined above, any items that may be deemed to be used in the taking of illicit substances, and any written or printed material promoting the use of illicit substances.
An Abuse Incident
Any incident relating to banned or prohibited substances that occurs in the school or during school functions or outings or any such incident that may be deemed damaging to the health or welfare of the student concerned, to other students, or to the Policy or reputation of the School. The school reserves the right to determine whether a specific incident constitutes an abuse incident to be addressed under the terms of the Policy.
Parents are defined to include natural parents, foster parents, step parents, or guardian of the student concerned as applicable, or any person acting in loco parentis, either on a temporary or permanent basis, on the date of an abuse incident.
The Principal should be taken to mean the Principal for the time being as appointed by the school and defined in the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 or the Deputy Principal where the Principal is either unavailable or has delegated to the Deputy Principal.