Substance Use Policy

Substance Use Policy

1.       Introduction

The entire staff of the school in collaboration with the Board of Management and Parents Association devised the following policy statement.


2. Rationale

The reasoning behind the drafting of the policy can be summarized as follows:

  •  Responding to the challenges modern society presents to young people in the form of easy  availability of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and as educators, we have a duty to respond to this  challenge.
  •  The Education Act 1998 obliges a school to promote Health Education and the Social and personal  development of students.
  •  Ireland has the second highest consumption of alcohol per capital in the E.U. which makes alcohol  the dominant drug of misuse in this country.
  •  Schools are required to have a policy on Substance Use in place under the National Drugs  Strategy.


3. Relationship to School Ethos

The school ethos strives towards the provision of a caring well ordered, happy, child-friendly, secure atmosphere, where the physical, psychological, moral, intellectual and spiritual needs of the pupils are adequately catered for:

This policy attempts to reinforce those ideals through:

1.      Providing a safe and healthy environment.

2.      Promoting health awareness.

3.      Promoting respect and self-esteem.

4.      Working in partnership with parents and pupils.


4. Aims and Objectives

  •  In addition to providing and promoting secure environments, respect and health awareness, the  school strives towards raising awareness of substance abuse amongst the student population.
  •  Developing a framework for education relating to substance use and for the management of  incidents that may arise.
  •  Provision of adequate staff training and development using outside expertise to ensure early  detection of possible substance use.


5. Roles and Responsibilities

a).   The Principal has overall responsibility for the implementation of policy.

b).  The class teachers have responsibility  for the delivery of the S.P.H.E programme.

c).  Parents engage in the formulation and support of the school policy.  The primary role of substance misuse prevention rests with parents.

d).  The Board of Management of Scoil Naomh Fiachra is responsible for all issues relating to Health and Safety in the school


6. Internal School Provision

The S.P.H.E curricular programme provides the cornerstone of the schools internal provision.  Within the broad context of S.P.H.E, specific programmes such as Walk Tall and Alive O are used.


Scoil Naomh Fiachra is a restricted smoking area.  Visitors must comply with the restricted smoking policy.  Students found smoking on the school premises will be reported to the Principal by the teacher and parents will be informed.  The child will be dealt with according to the schools disciplinary procedures.


Scoil Naomh Fiachra  is an alcohol free area and students are forbidden to bring alcohol into the school premises or consume alcohol on the school premises or during out of school activities.  If a teacher is of the opinion that a student is under the influence of alcohol the teacher will talk to and listen to the child in question and then inform the Principal who will decide on what action is required, which will normally involve contacting parents / guardians.  The child will be dealt with as per the school Code of Discipline.

Drugs and Solvents

Students are forbidden to use, promote or supply illicit drugs / solvents on school premises.  The school will endeavour to strike a balance between a pastoral and a disciplinary response should an incident occur and support agencies are available to the school should the need arise.  These support agencies include:

  •         Health Service Executive
  •         Family Doctor
  •         Social Worker
  •         Gardaí
  •         Clergy
  •         Education Welfare Office
  •         Junior Liaison Officer
  •         Teachers
  •         Pharmacist

It is the policy of the school to contact the Gardaí when drugs are found on the school premises.  Where there is disclosure investigation will be left in the hands of the Gardaí.  Where there is no disclosure all parents will be informed by letter and an emergency meeting of parents may be convened if deemed appropriate.  Parents will always be contacted in individual cases.  If medical intervention is required a designated teacher will monitor the student until a doctor / ambulance arrives.

Note: The Board of Management will not entertain any media enquiries in the event of an issue of national concern occurring on the school premises and there is absolutely no onus on the Principal to deliver a statement on behalf of the school unless the B.O.M, in consultation with Principal and staff consider it appropriate to do so. Illicit drugs/solvents found on the school premises will be stored in the Principal’s office under lock and key until handed over to Gardaí.

7. Guest Speakers

The policy welcomes guest speakers on issues relating to illicit substances.  All guest speakers will work under the following parameters:

a).      The teacher must be present during the talks.

b).      The speaker must come with a recommendation from other Principals or the H.S.E.

c).      The speaker must have an understanding of the level of maturity of the children.

d).     The speaker will be conscious of the fact that a sizeable percentage of parents smoke and drink and will keep this in mind during all interactions with children.

8. Training and Staff Development

The school is assisted in professional development by the Primary Curriculum Support Programme (P.C.S.P), the School Development Planning Support (S.D.P.S), the Health Service Executive (H.S.E), the Walk Tall Support Office, the local Gardaí and the S.P.H.E programme.


9. Curriculum Planning

Middle Classes
To access risky behaviour such as smoking, tasting alcohol etc.  S.P.H.E Text page 43Circle Time

Stay Safe



Walk Tall 4 – Page 92


To identify substances in the home / school that may be dangerous if not used properlyWalk Tall 4 – Page 104


Walk Tall 4 – Page 106
Awareness of dangers of tobacco, alcohol, drugs.

Reasons why people choose to drink/smoke

News / Stories


Role Play

Parental Role

T.V. advertisements

Newspaper articles

Teacher / instructor

Categorisation of substances  info

  • Helpful
  • Harmful
  • Legal
  • illegal
Garda Visit




T.V. advertisements

Teacher instruction

Understanding drugs and solvents and the appropriateness and inappropriateness of bothTeacher instruction

Parent input

Understanding Drugs

Health Promotion Unit

Accessing people who are concerned with Health and WelfareDiscussion

Visiting Presenter

Visit from H.S.E.
Senior Classes
Promoting Health and Safety in the School/homeTeacher Instruction  Discussion

Parental Reinforcement


Walk Tall

Road Signs

Identifying harmful substancesGarda Talk for parents / teachers



T.V. Advertisements


Preventing AccidentsInformal class discussionMedia Photos
Awareness of  medicines / solventsParental involvement

Teacher Instruction

Walk Tall


Identifying    environmental risksNature Walks

In-class instruction



Visiting Speaker


10. Success Criteria

(1).   Monitoring of behaviour in classrooms, corridor, yard, and on out of school activities.

(2).   Appropriate intervention when an incident occurs.

(3).   Openness in discussing issues relating to substance use.

(4).   Positive feedback from all stakeholders.

11. Implementation

The policy is currently being implemented.

12. Ratification and Review

The Board of Management approved the Substance Use Policy in 2007 and will review should any incident make such a review necessary

13. Resources

  •  Walk Tall
  •  Understanding Drugs (Health Promotion Unit)
  •  Stay Safe
  •  National Advisory Committee on Drugs
  •  Building on Experience (National Drugs Strategy) E.S.P.A.D (1999)
  •  S.P.H.E. Curriculum Stands
  •  Child Protection Guidelines for Primary School (NCCA 1999)
  •  “On My Own Two Feet” – SPHE guidelines, DES.
  •  “Drug Use Prevention” – www.nacd.ie

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