1961-2011     Fifty years ‘with wisdom and courage’

Substance Use Policy

Introduction:

This policy applies to students and all staff – including teachers, secretarial and ancillary staff – and to all those persons using the premises during the operation of the school, including breaks and all involved and participating in school related activities including school trips.

By substances the school means alcohol, cigarettes, legal drugs (painkillers etc.) illegal drugs and misuse of prescribed drugs, solvents etc.

Relationship to the school ethos:

The ethos of the college aspires to personal excellence be it moral, academic, sporting, practical and creative skills. Students are expected to have a strong sense of social responsibility and personal excellence rooted in a strong religious conviction.

To promote the realisation of this ethos and to enable students to make positive life choices, Regina Mundi College has structures in place which supports the needs and welfare of students and staff.

Rationale for this policy:

This policy has been formulated by a core committee (the principal, manager, two teachers, two students, two parents, representatives from the S.P.H.E support service and an addiction counsellor) to protect all the students and staff in Regina Mundi College. Issues outside the school encroach on the school community – one of these is the use of substances. It is likely that members of the school community have encountered such substances outside the school.

The management of Regina Mundi College recognise that the area of substance use is very sensitive with the potential to affect students and staff.

The school, in arriving at a policy to deal with the possession of, distribution of, and use of substances, is conscious that each situation is unique and thus, a flexible response is required.

Policy Content/Objectives:

  • Education concerning substance use
  • Management of alcohol, cigarettes and drug related instances
  • Provision for training and staff development
  • Provision for informing parents/guardians

Education concerning substance use for students:

Education about the use of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and the consequences of the misuse of substances is provided as part of a broad, developmental S.P.H.E. programme.

This education is provided in the Junior Cycle through specific modules as part of the existing school subjects S.P.H.E / RE / Pastoral Care / Home Economics.

In the Senior Cycle it is provided through Pastoral Care / RE and special seminars/workshops.

This education is provided as far as possible, by teachers with appropriate training and using student centred methodologies in an honest and age appropriate manner.

Visiting speakers will complement the school’s educational programme.

School personnel will accompany outside speakers.

This education programme focuses on equipping students to make healthy/informed choices through development of self-esteem/personal skills /information and awareness

Management of Alcohol, Cigarettes and Drug Related Incidents:

Staff cannot administer prescribed or un-prescribed medication, however the school would like parents/guardians to inform them if their daughter is on medication.

Under the Health and Safety policy of this school all dangerous substances, solvents, cleaning agents will be held in a secure location.

The management of the school responds to substance related incidents with discretion and consideration of the particular situation in the interest of the welfare of the individual and the general school community.

Recording Procedures:

All staff need to be aware of the signs of drug use and be alert for changes in behaviour. Adolescence is a period of great change and rumour must not be taken as evidence of drug use.

A. The Board of Directors of Regina Mundi College requires all staff to report, immediately to the Principal any incidents where students /employees / visitors

  • Encounter the use/suspected use of alcohol/cigarettes/drugs on the school premises or during a school related activity (e.g. outing /tour)
  • Exhibit symptoms/behaviour that may suggest the use of alcohol/cigarettes/drugs.
  • Are involved in the distribution, purchase or use of alcohol, cigarettes/drugs.
  • Discover suspect substances/paraphernalia.
  • An incident report form must be completed as soon as possible.

(See appendix 1)

B. The school Principal will seek to establish the facts and to be clear about the nature of the incident before deciding on the course of action. There will be no assumption of guilt.

C. The teacher is entitled to request the surrender of a suspicious substance. This will be done with minimal fuss. The teacher will not seek to search the student or her possessions. Where there is a refusal to co-operate the student will be brought to the Principal/Deputy Principal whose responsibility it is to proceed with the matter.

D. The Principal/Deputy Principal will recognise that the health/safety and the well being of the student/students is paramount. They will contact parents/guardians, immediately and will seek medical aid if deemed necessary. The student will be provided with the appropriate Pastoral Care, Guidance and support they need. (See Appendix 2)

Parents:

In the case of an incident, it is school policy to inform the parents/guardians. This will be handled with sensitivity and wherever possible support offered to them.

In the first instance this will be provided by the guidance counsellor.

Pastoral Care:

The pastoral care system is our first response to a drug incident. The pastoral care team includes class teacher, year head, guidance counsellor, S.P.H.E teachers, R E teachers, subject teachers, chaplain.

Where necessary, legal advice may be sought. If illegal drugs/paraphernalia is found on the school premises the school will contact the gardaí about its safe disposal. (See appendix 3)

It is the responsibility of the Principal/Deputy Principal to summon such persons as may be helpful to the issue.

Teachers in their pastoral role may encounter changes in a student’s behaviour and attitude on occasion, or over a period of time. This may be for a variety of reasons and may not necessarily be indicative of substance misuse.

Confidentiality:

Teachers cannot offer total confidentiality to a student who discloses drug involvement. We recognise the need for care in this area as the student may be coming to the teacher because they trust him/her and need help. How this situation is handled will have an important bearing on the outcome. Information must remain private and only disclose on a strict “need to know” basis. The student must be informed about what is happening and why.

Gardaí:

It is agreed that the Principal or a designated person will contact the Garda/Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) in the event of a confirmed drug incident. Any drugs found on the premises will be dealt with by the Gardaí.

Disciplinary Procedures:

Drug incidents are complex and in situations where school rules are broken, the sanctions and punishments will be implemented depending on the nature and severity of the offence. (See school policy on Code of Behaviour)

The Principal may decide in particular circumstances to opt for a counselling solution or she may involve the Board of Directors in suspension (short term, long term) or exclusion. Return to school may depend on participation in an appropriate counselling/addiction-counselling programme. Parental involvement and guarantees may also be required. The parents of all students (and students who are over 18) are afforded the right to appeal in all instances of suspension, exclusion or expulsion.

The Principal will deal with any/all queries from the media.

Provision for training/staff development

The Board of Directors of Regina Mundi College is committed to training and staff development in the area of substance use. A programme of in-service training is ongoing with the S.P.H.E support service and the Heath Executive Service. A panel of teachers have already been trained and this will be maintained. As part of staff development, a space will be created for drug awareness and information.

Parents: This school through the Parents’ Council will endeavour to provide information for parents on substance use.

Review of the Policy:

The policy will be reviewed periodically or in the event of an incident or in the light of changing information in consultation with the wider school community.

Evaluation:

Teachers, parents, students, Board of Directors and other relevant groups will be involved in the evaluation of this policy and any changes incorporated into the amended policy.

The three main areas of the policy to be evaluated will be

1. Drug Education Programmes

2. Managing Drug Related Incidents

3. Parent, Staff and Management Training and courses offered to the school community.

Dissemination of policy:

Copies of this policy will be disseminated to all the school community. It will also be freely available from the Principal’s Office.