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Drugs: Guidance for Schools Consultation


Response from the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, School Nursing Committee.

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association welcomes the opportunity to comment on the above consultation document.
The CPHVA is the UK professional body that represents registered nurses and health visitors who work in a primary or community health setting. The CPHVA is an autonomous section of the Amicus trade union, the country’s second largest. The CPHVA represents the majority of school nurses in the UK.
Overall the CPHVA feels the guidance for schools is an excellent document and we have made specific comments to the questions posed.
  1. Does the Executive Summary clearly summarise the key messages for schools? Of not, what should be added?


  • The CPHVA agrees and believes that involving all stakeholders are the key to successful implementation.
Is the introduction helpful?
The CPHVA agrees with the additions. It would be helpful if mention could be made about private/independent schools – in that the DfES recommend this guidance for all educational establishments.
Is section 2 helpful in setting out good practice in relation to drug education? We are particularly interested in your comments on whether further guidance is required on: developing and setting realistic aims for schools’ drug education programmes; drugs of particular significance to pupils; selecting teaching resources and using external contributors; teaching and learning; assessment, monitoring, evaluation and review

YES. The CPHVA agree that Section 2 is helpful in setting good practice in relation to drug education. We would also like to make the following additional comments

  • We totally support 2.4 last paragraph – education is a continuing process ‘an upward spiral’ building on previous knowledge.
  • As school nurses 2.12 some are currently supporting the PHSE curriculum and/or the teachers delivering the programme as in 2.15.
  • Linking sexual health themes with alcohol and substance misuse would generate useful links within young people’s minds.
  • Smoking should not be underplayed; this can then lead to consumption of other drugs via this route – cannabis, crack.
  • Further links and helpful advice may need to be made available to young people who are carers through parents that misuse substances
  • Young people should be encouraged to consider ‘real-life’ situations, drawing on their own experiences, but maintaining their own confidentiality – by talking about ‘a mate’. Young people should not be in a position of being forced to disclose details that may put themselves at risk.
  • First Aid Training – i.e. The Recovery Position – being unconscious possibly through drugs or alcohol – can bring a sense of reality to the situation.
  • The CPHVA would also like to see mention of the accreditation programme for PSHE for community nurses, in addition to the teacher’s programme. This is currently being piloted as a joint project between the DfES and DoH.
Should the guidance propose that school policies should prohibit smoking entirely and not provide designated smoking areas?
  • If there are designated areas– who are they for? Staff or young people? If there are different standards for adults and young people what does this say to young people about us as adults? In some schools where young people genuinely have an addiction, then this has been a cause of temporary/permanent exclusion – this then is far from satisfactory. What alternative sanctions could be put in place (if any?)
  • The CPHVA would like to see a prohibition of smoking entirely on school premises. This would be totally in line with the Chief Medical Officer’s Public Health Report 2002. It maybe that schools have a policy of working towards a totally smoke free environment where designated areas have previously been provided.
What mechanisms have schools successfully used to engage with parents/carers, particularly those who are harder to reach, on issues related to drugs?
  • Working through other agencies can sometimes help – i.e. Foster carers/staff from children’s homes. These people may not be local to the school. Successful links can be made with the Designated Teachers and Designated Health Professionals (doctors/nurses).
  • Useful to include ‘good practice’ ‘benchmarking of lesson’ schemes of work.
Is Section 3 helpful in setting out good practice in the management of drugs within the school community? We would particularly welcome comments on: detection and searching; the role of the police; establishing the nature of an incident; supporting pupils’ personal, social and health needs; intoxicated parents/carers; and whether the guidance covers areas which are of particular concern to schools.
  • This is a very valuable section, which could be lifted totally to form a schools drugs policy (up to 3.12), with support and guidance as response to incidences 3.13 - EXCELLENT!
  • Schools should feel able to search lockers/desks if they feel that weapons or harmful substances are contained within. This should be documented and witnessed and kept as private as possible. The parents may also need to be contacted in the first instance, particularly for the younger child.
Is the guidance on confiscation and disposal of illegal and unauthorised drugs workable?
Providing appropriate links with relevant parties are made – police, pharmacies – for the collection of volatile substa nces
What are you views on the use of sniffer dogs in schools? How could the guidance be improved in this area?
  • The CPHVA would urge that this needs careful management in setting out clearly in local policies.
  • Sniffer dogs could be used on ‘one-off’ occasions to get the message across or could be brought into classrooms as part of a lesson.
Is section 4 helpful in setting out good practice in relation to school drugs policies? We would particularly welcome comments on what issues should be added to the policy framework.
The schools should negotiate local links that can be supportive to them in times of need. These links should be made explicit in the policy (a protocol in which names could be attached)
Can you suggest any improvements to the appendices? Particularly Appendix 7: Flowchart: Incidents involving unauthorised drugs? Please state clearly the number of the appendix which you are commenting on.
Excellent section. However, it is very ‘busy’ and would perhaps benefit from the issues being separated out
What additional appendices are required?
Appendix 4 is an excellent idea
We have used the term ‘drugs’ throughout to refer to all drugs including medicines, volatile substances, alcohol and tobacco and have put a note in the terminology section of the introduction and a footer on each page explaining this. Is the use of the generic term drugs useful? If not, what would be more helpful?
However the document makes little reference to the management of prescription in schools, although it states that these are included in the definition of ‘drugs’. Neither is there any reference to the guidance document ‘Supporting Pupils with Medical Needs’ which we feel would be an important link.
What are the particular issues the guidance needs to add/highlight with respect to primary schools?
To acknowledge that more information needs to go into the primary schools.
What are the particular issues the guidance needs to add/highlight with respect to secondary schools?
The particular stress that young people have at the time of GCSE/A levels should be noted and support provided.
What are the particular issues the guidance needs to add/highlight with respect to special schoools?
  • Tailored to meet education level / mental age
What are the particular issues the guidance needs to add/highlight with respect to pupil referral units (PRUs)?
  • Often these pupils will have a first hand knowledge of illegal/legal drugs and this needs to be acknowledged
  • The young people at PRUs are often part and attend for short bursts. We should somehow ensure that their needs do not slip through the net.
We have provided a contents page, executive summary and summaries at the beginning of each section to help people find their way around the document. How could the document be improved to make it easier to use?
  • Well thought out format
Case studies will be included in the final guidance. What areas should they cover?
a - Scenarios/discussion groups with guidelines for action that should be taken.
b - If you would like to supply a case study please identify the subject to be covered and provide follow-up contact details.
No comment
If you have any further comments to make on the content of this draft or on how we might publish and disseminate the final document, please give them below.
No comment
Thank you for taking the time to let us have your views. We do not intend to acknowledge individual responses unless you tick the box below.
Please acknowledge this reply.
Here at the Department for Education and Skills we carry out our research on many different topics and consultations. As your views are valuable to us, would it be alright if we were to contact you again from time to time either for research or to send through consultation documents?

,Professional Officer for School Health and
Public Health

16th July 2003.