Pupils are caught dealing in drugs 'at one school in seven'

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A pupil is caught with illegal drugs in one in five schools in England and Wales every year, a survey for the National Union of Teachers has found. And students are drug-dealing in one school in seven, the research by Dr Simon Neill of Warwick University's Institute of Education says.

His survey, covering 2,575 teachers in nearly 2,000 schools across 13 education authorities, found drug-related incidents were evenly spread through urban, suburban and rural areas. Secondary teachers were much more likely than those in primaries to have dealt with drug offences at school, but primary teachers said they feared for their pupils' futures because drug use appeared to be increasing.

John Bangs, head of the NUT's education department, which commissioned the survey, said: "The stereotype of the drug-ridden inner-city school is obsolete. This study makes clear that the problem affects schools in all types of areas.

"Thankfully, the majority of our schools remain safe havens from drugs as a result of teachers' hard work. But the study gives no grounds for complacency. Teachers in the study identified lack of support from local authorities and in some cases from their senior management in dealing with drug-related problems."

The survey found that 0.6 per cent of teachers deal with a drug-trafficking incident every week, 0.8 per cent a month, 3.2 a term and 8.3 every year. Drug dealing more often happened off school premises or involved parents rather than pupils.

One teacher, now at a Leeds primary school, says: "I left my previous post in a high school because of drug use (apparently heroin) on the premises which was not taken seriously by the senior management".

The authorities covered by the survey were Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, East Sussex, Islington, Leeds, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Norfolk, North- umberland, Nottinghamshire, Pembrokeshire and Tameside.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "The £7.5m programme to help schools develop drug education policies is paying off.

"Ofsted report that 93 per cent of secondary schools and 75 per cent of primaries now have a drug education policy compared with 86 per cent secondary and 61 per cent primary in 1997."