Substance Use Policy

This policy was formulated by Maria Nowlan, principal, Gerry McDonnell, deputy principal and member of the Board of Management, Garda Frank Howe, community guard and Mrs.Shirly George, parent.

Two meetings of this committee were held.on 29th January & 26th February. A draft policy was drawn up and presented to the staff at a meeting on March 15th and to the board of management on March 6th. The final policy was ratified by the board in May 2007

This policy applies to staff – teachers, substitutes, special needs assistants, secretarial caretaking and those on work experience. It also applies to pupils, parents, and users of the school building at all times. It applies to all school activities, involving children, both on and off the school site. The principal and deputy principal will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring and implementations of the policy.

A drug is any chemical which alters how the body works, behaves or feels.
St.Mary’s N.S. aims to nurture each child to develop his/her potential in a caring environment. St. Mary’s N.S, sees itself as having a role in the process of enabling students to increase control over and improve their health. We endeavour to promote the well being of students by:
” Providing a safe and healthy environment.
” Promoting positive health behaviours.
” Increasing knowledge about health.
” Promoting the self-esteem and self-awareness of students.
” Working in partnership with the parents/guardians and pupils.

To this end, in response to the encroaching drug culture in our society, we feel the need to implement a comprehensive policy to address the problem of substance misuse.

The world in which we live presents young people with many challenges which affect their health and well-being. Exposure to alcohol, tobacco and drugs is part of this reality. School need to reflect upon how they might provide for the needs of their student cohort and respond appropriately to what are sometimes sensitive and emotive issues.

The Education Act 1998 provides that schools should promote the social and personal development of students and provide health education for them.

The National Drugs Strategy ‘Building on Experience’ is now Government policy and it requires schools to have a Substance Use Policy in place.

The aims of this policy are to:
” Develop a framework for education concerning substance use.
” Develop a framework for the management of alcohol, tobacco and drug related incidents.
” A provision for training and staff development, and the planned use of outside expertise to support staff and students.

” Development of a framework for the management of medicines in the school.

” Development of a framework for the management of dangerous substances such as cleaning fluids, bleach, pain thinners etc.

Education concerning Substance Use.
Education about alcohol, tobacco and drugs is most effective if provided in the broader context of a Social, Personal and Health (SPHE) programme which is developmental and delivered in the context of a supportive whole school environment. Our SPHE programme aims to increase the pupils self esteem, promote positive behaviour and increase knowledge about health habits.
A number of lessons will be taught specifically related to substance use. They are:
North Western Health Board ”Out and About” 3rd & 4th Class
Unit 1.3 Feeling Ill, feeling better
Lesson 1, Sickness and health
Lesson 2, Medicines
Lesson 3, Smoking

North Westeren Health Board ”Look after myself”
5th class
Health Hazards Smoking

6th Class
Health Hazards Alcohol

5th & 6th
Solvent abuse drugs

On the advice of Garda Frank Howe, visitors will not be invited to talk to the children about drugs as this can give them too much unnecessary information, particularly vulnerable children.

Management of alcohol, tobacco and drug related incidents

If a child is in possession of or under the influence of alcohol parents/guardians will be contacted immediately. It is an offence for a person under 18 to be in possession of or under the influence of alcohol. If after consultation with the parents/guardian of the child it is felt that the child is in danger a referral to the Health Board and Gardai may be made.

If any member of staff is found to be under the influence of alcohol the matter shall be referred to the Board of Management and the Board may consider facilitating links with an Employee Assistance Scheme such as the VHI. If a staff member is regularly found to be under the influence of alcohol, the Board of Management may follow the disciplinary procedures.

The school as a public place and under the Health Act 2001, Tobacco Regulations 1995 smoking is prohibited on any part of school property. This includes school buildings, yard, car park and the area directly outside the school.

It is an offence for a child to be in possession of cigarettes and if any child is found to be in possession of them, they will be confiscated and parents will be informed.

If a child is found smoking, his/her parents will be informed. If a child is found to be in continuous breach of the No-Smoking Policy, he/she will be sanctioned under the Code of Discipline. Continued breach of the No-Smoking Rule will lead to the guards being involved.

If Staff members are found smoking anywhere on the school premises, the principal will speak to them. Regular breaches will be reported to the Board of Management and the staff member will be dealt with under the discipline policy.

Illicit Drugs and Solvents

School Policy
Students and all Employees of the Board of Management are forbidden from being in possession of using illicit drugs or solvents on or in the school premises.

Procedures for managing Drug related or Substance Abuse incidents Illicit Drugs and Solvents

In the event of an abuse incident, the school will seek to strike a balance between the welfare of the student or students involved and the welfare of the school community as a whole.
Where it is apparent that there is immediate danger to students or the school community, the school reserves the right to suspend or remove temporarily from the school any student involved in a suspected abuse incident pending a further and complete investigation of the incident.

The completion of an Abuse Incident Report Form.
The school will take possession of any banned or prohibited substances and drug paraphernalia associated with an abuse incident, carefully recording all such items and retaining them pending completion of the investigation unless otherwise instructed by appropriate outside agencies i.e. Garda, Health Board. In the event of an incident, the school will seek statements from all persons involved in, concerned with, or having knowledge of the incident and will record these statements.

The school will maintain a written record of all stages of the investigation of an incident including records referred to in the above steps, communications with other people or agencies involved or concerned with the matters under investigation, the investigation outcome, decisions taken and the rationale for these decisions, any penalties or disciplinary measures imposed following an investigation and the management and outcome of any appeal that may arise following an investigation.

The school, at its own discretion, will liaise with any appropriate outside authority and seek advice or assistance as it deems appropriate in relation to its investigation of an incident.

If the circumstances merit and the investigation is continuing, the school will put the full particulars of the incident to the students concerned and their parents/guardians in the following manner:

a) Copies of all records deemed relevant to the position of the student concerned and to the nature of the complaints or allegations that a student is facing will be made available to the student and his/her parents/guardians – at the discretion of the school – in time to permit the student a reasonable opportunity to make his/her own reply to the matters at issue and any representations that he/she would wish to make or have made on his/her behalf.

b) The school will allow the student concerned and his/her parents/guardians reasonable time to respond to the matters at issue. The school will take in to account any response so made and any other relevant extraneous considerations or mitigating circumstances that may be appropriate to the specific case.

c) The school shall shortly thereafter inform the student and his parents/guardians of the school’s findings and their reasons for these. If the school finds that the student has been guilty of or involved or implicated in an incident., it shall indicate the penalty of sanctions that it intends to impose in the circumstances.

d) The school can, at its sole discretion, postpone the issue of sanctions to take account of mitigating circumstances or representations that it considers should be taken into account. The school would endeavour to seek appropriate support services, e.g. counselling, pastoral care for those involved who may be traumatised by the incident.

e) If the problem is not solved and the child continues to use or deal in drugs, the school reserves the right to expel the child.

f) The school B.O.M. will expect parents/guardians to inform the Principal or teacher if they suspect their child of drug taking. The school will not comment on an individual matter when an investigation is in progress other than to outline it’s policy and procedures for managing incidents

This will be the remit of the Chairperson of the B.O.M.

School Policy:
Students and all employees

Medicinal Drugs

Management of Substances

Substance refers to (a) Medicinal Drugs
(b) Recreational Drugs
© Domestic Substances

(a) Medicinal drugs i.e. prescribed drugs for any medical conditions a child might have.

Storage: All medicines must be kept in a locked cabinet or drawer in the Principal’s or Secretary’s office. Medicines must not be stored in the child’s schoolbag or unlocked presses/drawers in the classroom.

Notification: Parents must notify teacher in writing of the medical condition in question and details of the required dosage. This may be a note in the child’s diary or a letter.

Long term illness: If medicine is to be administered in school, comprehensive instructions on how this must be done and all details of illness must be obtained from the hospital concerned and submitted to the principal. Copies of this are to be given to the class teacher and deputy principal.

Administration of Medicine: The medicine should be self administered, if at all possible under the supervision of the principal, class teacher or Secretary. Parents must notify the school in writing, that the child has permission to self-administer the medicine. A written record of the date and time of administration must be kept.

No teacher can be obliged to administer medicine to a pupil. A teacher should not administer medication without the specific authorisation of the B.O.M.

If any medication is to be taken in school, the parent must sign the Administration of Medication Indemnification form, which will then be attached to the child’s registration form.

Domestic Substances
Domestic cleaning substances must be locked away during school hours. Bleaches and other toxic agents must not be used until all children have left the premises.

First Aid
At present we have two staff members who are skilled in First Aid.If a child is injured or falls ill during school time, immediate first aid will be provided. If the class teacher and/or Principal have concerns about a child, the parents will be contacted. If they cannot be contacted, appropriate medical assistance will be secured.

Where children are suffering from life threatening conditions parents should outline clearly in writing what cannot be done in a particular emergency situation, with particular reference to what may be a risk to the child.

Provision of Training of Staff
All staff will be encouraged to avail of First Aid Courses and take any other relevant courses that are available.

A speaker from the Drugs Task Force will be invited to speak to staff about illicit drugs.
The Parents’Association will be encouraged to invite a speaker from the Drugs Task Forces to speak to parents.

Success Criteria

Implementation & Maintenance of this Substance Abuse Policy
The successful dealing with of any breaches of this policy.
Positive feedback from teachers, parents and pupils

Roles & Responsibilities
The implementation of this policy will be co-ordinated and monitored by the Principal and Vice Principal.
Class teachers are responsible for reporting any suspicions, teaching SPHE lessons, and in particular the lessons relating to Alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs or substances.


This policy takes effect from_September 1st 2007
” Ratification and Review
This policy was ratified by the board in May 2007 and will be reviewed on an annual basis.

The School:
The school includes school buildings, grounds, play areas, public areas where students congregate coming to and from school.

Banned or Prohibited Substances:
All substances covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act, non-validated prescription medication, all alcohol and tobaccos used contrary to the law of the land. The school reserves the right to determine that a substance found at the school qualifies as a banned or prohibited substance.

Drug Paraphernalia:
Any banned or prohibited substance as defined above, any items that may be deemed to be used in the taking of illicit substances, and any written or printed material promoting the use of illicit substances.

An Abuse Incident:
Any incident relating to banned or prohibited substances that occurs in the school or during school functions or outings or any such incident that may be deemed damaging to the health or welfare of the student concerned, to other students or to the policy or reputation of the school. The school reserves the right to determine whether a specific incident constitutes an abuse incident to be addressed under the terms of the policy.

Designed By