The Narcotics Menace: School aims to provide balanced approach teaching: Lesley Gerard on a new strategy to deter children from drug abuse

MORNING ASSEMBLY at Haydon School, west London, begins not with morning prayers, but with a loud blast of Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Chile. Steve Robson, the deputy head, tells the story of the guitar legend's untimely death, aged 28, to illustrate the dangers of drugs, before moving on to warn the school's 1,300 pupils about solvent abuse.

As a music fan he is well briefed on Hendrix and the drug-induced deaths of other Sixties icons, but less confident on the subjects of glue sniffing and inhaling aerosol fumes. 'Sometimes you get the feeling that the children know more than you do.'

Hayden School in Pinner draws its pupils from an affluent catchment area. In the past eight years, two pupils have been expelled for bringing illegal drugs onto the premises. Hayden believes its problems are no worse than those experienced by other schools.

But the headteacher, David Dobson, insists complacency is dangerous. 'Any headteacher who says their school has not got a problem with drugs in this day and age is being very foolish,' he said. 'When you have 1,300 pupils you have to assume some of the children will try them . . . If pupils know they can raise an issue, then that gives you a chance to talk some sense to them.'

Over the last decade Haydon has developed a clear strategy based on the theory that simply ordering children not to take drugs and threatening them with expulsion does not work. The school's approach has backing and help from the Hillingdon Drug Education Team, a group of youth workers and counsellors, funded by the local council and health authority.

Roger Sharpe, the team's manager, said: 'When a child takes drugs it is often a symptom that something else is making them unhappy. That is when we can help . . . Our view is that you have to work with the children and also educate their parents not to over-react. You have to assume that you cannot persuade every child to abstain, that some might take ecstacy. But if they do, at least you can tell them to avoid becoming dehydrated to reduce the risk. By support and counselling you try to ensure that it becomes just an episode in their lives and not a life-threatening dependency.'

At Hayden, pupils attend personal social health education classes from the age of 11. They start by discussing the health effects of smoking; in following years classes discuss drugs, alcohol and addiction.

The lessons run alongside a social education programme where drugs are also discussed and former addicts occasionally invited in to talk to pupils.

The school has started to compile a list of counselling services which children can refer to. It is also drawing up its own drugs policy with the help of parents and pupils to clarify how the subject should be taught and to review how drug-related incidents in school should be punished. Mr Foley said: 'Children are quite sensible. They weigh up the disadvantages against what they perceive to be the benefits of taking drugs. Our role is to give them something to balance it all out against. Ignorance is life-threatening.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss