Submitted by the National Union of
1. The National Union of Teachers, the largest
teacher union representing teachers in England and Wales, welcomes
the opportunity to submit evidence to the Home Affairs Committee's
inquiry on drugs.
2. The NUT views as positive the Government's
commitment to provide additional funding for "Drug Prevention"
and "Schools Drug Advisers" as part of the Standards
Fund allocation for 2000-2002. The NUT looks forward to long-term
financial support for drug education in schools including resources
for staffing and specific training for teachers.
3. The NUT continues to value drug education
as the means of equipping young people with the knowledge, skills
and understanding to make informed, responsible and health choices
4. Evidence has shown that the most effective
way to protect young people against drug misuse is to educate
them. Teachers are, therefore, central to the delivery of drug
education to young people.
5. The NUT commissioned a survey of 2,575
teachers in primary schools, secondary schools and pupil referral
units in the summer term (2001) on teachers' recent experiences
of pupil behaviour and drug-related incidents in schools. The
survey, covering teachers in 13 education authorities in England
and Wales, was carried out by Dr Sean Neill of Warwick University,
Institute of Education.
6. The authorities included in the survey
were chosen to give a representative geographical and social spread
and covered inner city, suburban and urban areas.
7. The results of the survey revealed that
one in five schools encountered drug possession at least once
a year. Just over twelve per cent of respondents reported experiencing
possession of drugs by pupils once a year; 4.6 per cent experienced
it termly; 2.0 per cent monthly and 1 per cent weekly. Four in
five respondents (80.2 per cent) did not report experiencing possession
of drugs in schools.
8. In comparison, drug trafficking was reported
in fewer than one in seven schools. Eighty-seven per cent of respondents
did not report that they experienced drug trafficking in school;
8.3 per cent of respondents reported having witnessed drug trafficking
in school annually; 3.2 per cent termly; 0.8 per cent monthly;
and 0.6 per cent weekly.
9. An analysis of the written comments has
indicated that, to some extent, schools can be seen as a safe
haven from drugs.
10. Respondents, particularly those in primary
schools, were, however, concerned about the future of pupils who
were currently not involved in drugs but who were vulnerable to
drug trafficking in the immediate vicinity of the school or by
11. In schools where drug possession was
experienced more frequently, the NUT welcomed the fact that respondents
were more likely to have had behaviour management training. However,
some respondents reported that LEA support was ineffective. Similarly,
in schools where both possession and trafficking were reported,
teachers expressed concern that there was little support from
management, that they did not know where to report drug-related
incidents and that support for problem pupils was poor.
12. In one primary school in Leicester,
a teacher who reported no experience of drug possession or trafficking
in school, wrote:
"I teach in what could be called a `sink'
estate. We have high exclusions. However, I have to say we accept
and attempt to teach children with severe emotional and/or social
problems . . . For too many a very bleak life is mapped out at
10, of drugs and crime."
13. A secondary teacher in Norfolk who reported
an annual occurrence of drug possession and trafficking stated
that there had been an "increase in the use of `soft' drugs"
in the school.
14. It is evident from the NUT study that
drug misuse is an issue for schools in rural as well as inner
city areas and that resource for drug prevention strategies, specific
training for teachers, and educating young people, must be a priority.
15. Remarks by respondents to the NUT survey
that teachers did not receive adequate support from management
or from headteachers in delivering drug education and developing
drug prevention strategies in schools is of enormous concern to
16. The NUT has emphasised to the Government
the importance of teachers feeling supported and confident and
equipped with the information and resources to carry out effectively
their educational role in the delivery of the National Drugs Strategy.
It appears from the results of the NUT research that schools still
require advice and support on how drug education and prevention
strategies and policies can be successfully and effectively integrated
into the work of schools.
17. Local Drug Action Teams, LEA Advisers,
and external agencies should continue to support schools in developing
comprehensive drug policies, drug education programmes and in
responding effectively to drug related incidents. The NUT has
favoured a greater emphasis on the role of a properly trained
coordinator or specified senior member of staff to facilitate
the planning and implementation of drug education in schools.
It is hoped that the funding of Schools Drugs Advisers will go
some way towards reducing this gap in support to schools and in
the education of young people.
18. The NUT would like to see a greater
emphasis on the referral role of the school when responding to
drug-related incidents, and greater cooperation and coordination
of local drug prevention strategies to ensure that schools remain
a safe haven from drugs and to reduce the risk that activities
outside of the control of the school do not undermine the valuable
work undertaken by teachers. Further work with school governors
is necessary to illustrate how schools can, in partnership with
other agencies, deliver the National Drugs Strategy and make a
19. The NUT looks forward to long-term financial
support for the delivery of the National Drugs Strategy and for
the continued funding of drug education programmes and drug policies
for schools which includes resources, staffing, specific training
and support for teachers and a fully comprehensive and coordinated
approach to drug prevention locally.