Drug Policy

Designated Teacher for Drugs: Helena Palmer


  • For the purpose of this document the term “drugs” includes tobacco, alcohol, over-the-counter and prescribed medication, volatile substances and controlled drugs.  This school does not condone the misuse of drugs but recognises that there has been a considerable increase in the abuse of drugs in recent years in Northern Ireland.  Drug misuse appears to be affecting an ever-younger population and the so-called “recreational” use of drugs can lead to a dangerous acceptance of illegal and harmful drug misuse as part of everyday life.
  • We believe that this school has a vital preventative role to play in combating the misuse of drugs by young people and we therefore include a drugs education programme in our curriculum.
  • St. Joseph’s College sees its role as that of a caring Catholic community committed to the physical, mental, social, emotional, moral and spiritual health, safety and well being of our students and staff.
  • We want our students to make informed and responsible decisions about drugs by increasing their knowledge and by developing in them appropriate values, attitudes and skills. We develop a culture of acceptance and understanding within our school community. However, we recognise that drug misuse is a whole-community issue and that schools alone cannot solve the drugs problem; the school is only one of a number of groups and agencies which must play a part in the education of young people and we make use of their expertise where possible in the delivery of the programme.


  • For the purpose of this document and in line with the guidance issued to all schools by the Department of Education (2004/09) drugs will include any substance which, when taken, has the effect of altering the way the body works or the way a person behaves, feels, sees or thinks.
  • As well as everyday substances such as tea and coffee, drugs include:
    • alcohol and tobacco;
    • “over-the-counter” medicines, such as paracetamol;
    • prescribed drugs, such as antibiotics, tranquillisers, inhalers and Ritalin;
    • volatile substances, such as correcting fluids/thinners, gas lighter fuel, aerosols, glues and petrol;
    • controlled drugs, such as cannabis, LSD, Ecstasy, amphetamine sulphate (speed), magic mushrooms (processed), heroin and cocaine; and
    • other substances such as amyl/butyl nitrite (“poppers”) and unprocessed magic mushrooms.

Aims and Objectives

  • To have a clear and agreed understanding among everyone in the school community about the implications and possible consequences of drug use/misuse.
  • To provide all staff (teaching and non-teaching) with adequate training and support to enable them to deal effectively and confidently with incidents of suspected drug misuse, and to ensure that the agreed procedures are consistently and sensitively applied in all situations.
  • To empower teaching staff through appropriate training and support to develop and deliver an effective drug education programme.
  • To provide a drug education programme which
  • Develops students’ self esteem and promotes positive attitudes in their relationships with others;
  • Gives students’ opportunities to develop the values, skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to make informed and responsible decisions about the use/misuse of drugs including tobacco, alcohol and volatile substances, within the context of a healthy lifestyle; and
  • Helps students’ develop the skills necessary to assert themselves confidently and resist negative pressures and influences.
  • To provide appropriate support and assistance for those students affected by drug-related issues.
  • To inform parents of the content of this policy and the procedures to be implemented in the management of incidents of suspected drug misuse.
  • To establish an environment in which the school is free from the misuse of all drugs.

Roles and Responsibilities


  • Be aware of and adhere to school rules in relation to drug use/misuse, including tobacco, alcohol, over-the-counter and prescribed medication, volatile substances and controlled drugs.


  • Support the school in the development and implementation of this policy, including the school’s procedures for handling incidents of suspected drug misuse and the drug education programme.
  • Support your son if they have become involved with drugs.

All staff (teaching and non-teaching)

  • Be alert to the possibility of drug use/misuse.
  • Be familiar with the school’s procedures in the handling of suspected drug-related incidents.
  • It is not the responsibility of the individual staff member to investigate the circumstances surrounding an incident; however he/she should deal with any emergency procedures if necessary.
  • Any information, substance or paraphernalia received should be forwarded to the designated teacher for drugs who may have to take immediate action.

Teachers delivering the Drug Education programme

  • In addition to the above:
  • Deliver the school’s drug education programme.
  • Try to create an atmosphere in the classroom in which pupils can freely contribute to discussion, safe in the knowledge that the comments, ideas and feelings of the group are valued.
  • Support students in their class if necessary.
  • Liaise with the designated teacher for drugs regarding any aspect of the programme/policy, as necessary.

The Designated Teacher for Drugs: Helena Palmer

  • Ensure that all staff and parents are aware of and have access to a copy of the policy.
  • Have oversight and co-ordination of the planning of curricular provision in compliance with the statutory requirements including periodic update and review of the policy.
  • Liaise with other staff responsible for pastoral care in co-ordinating the delivery of the drug education programme.
  • Be responsible for co-ordinating the school’s procedures for dealing with incidents of suspected drug misuse.
  • Co-ordinate training and induction of all staff in the procedures for dealing with incidents of suspected drug misuse.
  • Determine the circumstances surrounding any suspected drug-related incident.
  • Complete a suspected incident report form and forward to the Principal.
  • Ensure the engagement and active participation of parents in all aspects of drug education.
  • Act as the point of contact for outside agencies working with the school.

The Principal

Ensure that members of the Board of Governors have been consulted on and ratified the policy.

In the case of incidents of suspected drug misuse:

  • Ensure the welfare and well being of the student(s) involved in the incident and the rest of the school community.
  • Ensure that the following people are informed (where relevant):
    • Parents/guardians
    • PSNI – preferably the Community and Schools Involvement Officer (CSIO)
    • Board of Governors
    • Designated Officer in WELB/CCMS
    • Members of staff
    • Other students and parents informed within the confines of confidentiality.
  • Agree, in consultation with the Board of Governors, appropriate pastoral and disciplinary responses in relation to the incident, including counselling services/support.
  • Review procedures and amend as appropriate.
  • Retain written records of the incident and ensure a copy of the report is submitted to Board of Governors and WELB/CCMS as appropriate.

The Board of Governors

  • Examine and approve the completed policy and education programme, prior to their implementation in the school.
  • Ensure the policy is published in the school prospectus and that it is reviewed at regular intervals.
  • Be fully aware of and adequately trained to deal with suspected incidents of drug misuse, including tobacco and alcohol, and their appropriate disciplinary response.
  • Agree in consultation with the principal appropriate pastoral and disciplinary responses in relation to suspected drug related incidents.
  • Designate a Governor to work with the Principal and designated teacher for drugs in relation to drug-related incidents.

The Caretaker

  • Be vigilant around and conduct regular checks of the school grounds for drug-related paraphernalia, and inform the designated teacher for drugs as appropriate.
  • Ensure the safe storage, handling and disposal of potentially harmful substances such as solvents and cleaning fluids.

Training and Information

All staff (teaching and non-teaching) and Governors will be provided with training to support the full implementation of this policy including the delivery of the drug education programme. This programme will be delivered mainly through Personal Development Lessons but is also included in other learning areas such as; Science, Religion, English, Music and Art. Information awareness sessions/drug awareness evening will be offered to parents/guardians, in consultation with our PTA during the 3rd term.

The Drug Education Programme

The drug education programme in St.Joseph’s is just one part of the whole school response to drug use/misuse.  The programme provides opportunities for pupils to:

  • Acquire knowledge and understanding in relation to drug use/misuse;
  • Identify values and attitudes in relation to drug use/misuse;
  • Develop skills to enable them to consider the effects of drugs on themselves and others; and
  • Make informed and responsible choices within the context of a healthy lifestyle.

Procedures for dealing with suspected drug related incidents

Fundamental to dealing with incidents of suspected drug misuse is the principle of “in loco parentis”, and the school will always take the steps that would reasonably be expected of any parent to safeguard the well being and safety of all the students in their charge.

The school will at all times give careful consideration as to how any information relating to an incident of suspected/confirmed drug use/misuse is communicated to staff, students and parents/guardians

The parents/guardians of the student(s) directly involved in an incident of suspected drug use/misuse will be informed of the incident recognising that the future of a child or adult can be adversely affected. Confidentiality is of paramount importance in drug related incidents and subsequent outcomes.

St. Joseph’s College

Rules in Relation to Drugs

In relation to tobacco…

St.Joseph’s College is a smoke free school; neither staff nor students are permitted to smoke on school premises.

Students who smoke or bring cigarettes into school shall be dealt with under the school’s discipline policy as follows.

  • Parents will be informed of any infringements of this rule.
  • Prohibited materials will be confiscated and destroyed.
  • Repeated offences may lead to suspension.

In relation to alcohol

Alcohol may not be brought into the school buildings or grounds. Any student infringing this rule will be dealt with under the school’s discipline policy.

 Parents will be informed and the student concerned may be suspended.

In relation to solvents or other legally held materials

Should a case of the misuse of legally held substances be discovered or suspected the member of staff present should:

  • Ensure the safety of the student.
  • Remove other students from the area.
  • Inform the designated teacher.

To ensure the safety of the student give him plenty of fresh air. If he is drowsy or asleep put him on his side to avoid choking should vomiting occur. Retain any evidence of the material misused by the student.

The designated teacher will:

  • Assess the situation
  • Medical assistance if that should seem advisable and
  • Inform the parents.

In relation to illegal substances

Illegal substances may not be brought into the school buildings or grounds.  Where it is known or suspected that illegal substances are present or where it is known or suspected that a student has been using such substances the actions outlined below will be taken.

In each case

  • Parents will be informed. The student is likely to be suspended while the matter is being investigated.
  • Where an illegal substance has been found on the premises the police will be informed.
  • Where it is confirmed that trafficking in illegal drugs has taken place the person(s) concerned will be suspended while the question of expulsion is considered by the governors.

Legal responsibilities of all staff and the involvement of the police.

  • The police should be notified in ALL instances where it has been alleged or suspected that a crime has been committed.
  • Be aware of relevant Drugs legislation relating to N.Ireland.
  • St.Joseph’s has a Community and Schools Involvement Officer (CSIO) “ Leslie Ward. Links have been established to ensure that there are agreed procedures in dealing with any drug related incidents.
  • The police will always try to ensure that all incidents are handled promptly and with discretion.
  • The local CSIO must be informed where a student is found to have, or is suspected of having, controlled drugs in his possession, either on his person or in his belongings, or where controlled drugs are found on school premises.
  • There is no legal requirement to contact the police in circumstances where the misuse of solvents, alcohol or prescription medication is suspected. However it is recommended that the CSIO is notified as she will be able to offer advice, support and assistance to help prevent reoccurrence and to ensure that the student is no longer at risk.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the police may interview a student on school premises with the principal’s agreement. It is important in these circumstances that all possible efforts have been made to inform the students parents/guardians before allowing the police interview to take place.

Agencies Available to Assist and Support Staff, Young People and Families.

  • St. Joseph’s College have a Student Information Point (outside the staff room) on this notice board are the contact numbers of many agencies and counselling services available to our young people and their families.
  • Contact Youth and Ego are two counselling services that are available to our students and we can signpost our students towards them for expert guidance and a confidential ear.

St.Joseph’s College position in relation to the issues of searching, detaining and confidentiality.


  • If an allegation regarding a student, the designated teacher for drugs may feel it is appropriate to search a student’s locker or desk.
  • A search of a student’s personal belongings, including school bag, coat or other items should only be made with the students consent.
  • A search must only be made with the student present and another adult witness.
  • A member of staff should NEVER carry out a physical search of a student.
  • If a substance or object is recovered which may be linked to the allegation, this should be taken possession of and a full record should be made.
  • If a student refuses consent to search his property, we must weigh up the students right to privacy and the allegation made.
  • Procedures for such a search are as follows:
    • Student plus at least one adult witness must be present.
    • Parent / guardian will be informed.
    • Any items found will be taken possession of and a record of same will be made.
    • If necessary/appropriate police will be informed.


When managing a drug related incident;

  • The student concerned should be invited to remain in school under the supervision of appropriate members of staff until parents and police arrive.
  • If a student refuses to remain, the school cannot detain the student against his will. However, if reasonable grounds of the student having drugs on their person or has taken controlled drugs then consideration can be given to a citizen’s arrest (Appendix 7)
  • It is not illegal for a student to possess or use, alcohol, solvents and tobacco. Therefore a student in these circumstances will be dealt with under the schools discipline policy.


  • Teachers cannot and should not promise total confidentiality.
  • Staff should carefully consider their response to a student who seeks individual advice on drug use / misuse.
  • If information regarding controlled drugs is disclosed, the member of staff has to pass this on to the DT for Drugs, Mrs Palmer.
  • Staff should direct students to sources of confidential information and advice. Student Information Point notice board holds this information; it is positioned outside the staff room.

Pastoral and Disciplinary responses

  • Every incident should be dealt with on its own merit.
  • Parents/Guardians will be informed of school procedures in the event of suspected drug related incidents. These will be included in the information section of our Homework diary. Full policy will be available if requested from Principal.
  • Parents will be contacted; either by phone or in person, (depending on the seriousness of the incident) for all alcohol, solvent or controlled drugs incidents. Care will be taken in how the parent is informed and the emotional state that may result from such a disclosure. Counselling services and advice may be given.
  • Students individual needs are imperative in these situations.
  • Clear communication between staff and parents is extremely important in order to give student the required support.
  • Counselling services will be offered through the two school link organisations; Ego, specifically aimed at alcohol and drug issues and Contact Youth general school counselling service.
  • Support and Counselling services beyond those used in school

Emergency First Aid.

Procedures for incidents of suspected drug misuse.

Information given is taken from Illicit Drug Use in N.I. handbook for professionals (2000)

  • Try to establish what has been taken to help medical crew.
  • If student has taken Depressant drug (solvents, alcohol, sleeping pills, painkillers) he my be drowsy, try to keep him awake (Talking and walking.) Do not give him anything to eat or drink.
  • If he is unconscious, put him in the recovery position.
  • If he stops breathing, begin mouth to mouth.
  • Stay with him until ambulance arrives.
  • If student has taken a stimulant drug (speed or E) ha may show signs of distress. Try to reassure him. Try to get him to calm down and relax.
  • If he has taken LSD supervise him in a darkened, quiet room to avoid sensory stimulation.

Dealing with the Media

If the school receives an enquiry from the media the caller will only be referred to the principal or, in the absence of the principal, a designated nominee.

When responding to the media the privacy of the student(s), his family and/or any staff members will be respected at all times.

The school will ensure that procedures are put in place to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of all aspects of this policy.  Information will be regularly collected from students and staff as part of the monitoring process, and this will then be evaluated against the aims and objectives of the policy at appropriate intervals.

Monitoring will take place in the form of staff and student questionnaire. Each Year team will assess this data and feed back to their Head of Key Stage, who will in turn liase with the designated teacher for Drugs.

Monitoring will take place at the end of each Year groups work on Drugs education within the PHSE lesson are complete.

Each Form teacher will take responsibility for giving out the questionnaire and along side his/her year group colleagues,

  1. Act upon the findings
  2. Propose changes in the programme / Policy
  3. Feed this information back to the Head of Key Stage.
  4. The Head of both Key Stage 3 and 4/5 will in consultation with the Designated Teacher for Drugs act upon these findings.

The ultimate responsibility for the monitoring and evaluation of the Drugs Education Policy and Programme will lie with the Head Of Both Key Stages and the Designated Teacher for Drugs.

Communication and Dissemination of Policy

St. Joseph’s College drug policy is referred to in the school prospectus and parents, visitors and those people who work with our students can request this from our school secretary.

Checklist for handling suspected drug related incidents in St. Joseph’s college: Download