26th September 2022
School Behaviour Advisor Urges Crackdown on Vaping
Advisor says: "Schools need to be spaces where children are protected from narcotics of all forms"
Tom Bennett, the government's school behaviour advisor has urged headteachers to crack down on vaping among pupils, calling it “a huge health hazard” following reports that more children, some pf primary school age are using the devices. i
Mr Bennett said vaping was now as big an issue in schools as cigarettes once were, with children becoming “addicted to the practice and the chemicals involved” and has called on school leaders to confiscate prohibited items, set clear sanctions and follow them through with zero exceptions.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Mr Bennett said: “Vaping is now as big an issue in schools as cigarettes were. They’ve moved in and partially replaced that. Part of it is symbolic, it’s a signal of what they believe to be maturity, possibly even rebellion, and as such it presents the same dilemmas. Kids are becoming addicted to both the practice and the chemicals involved. It’s a huge health hazard, and it presents an enormous distraction to children in schools when they should be socialising, learning and growing.”
A Growing Problem
Councillor for Blackpool Andrew Stansfield recently told a full council meeting that vaping was “rife” in the town’s schools, and estimated that 75% of students were vaping. It is illegal in the UK to sell vaping products to under-18s.
Amy Grashoff, the headteacher at Newton Abbot college in Devon, has seen a marked increase in the number of students vaping. The school has introduced measures to tackle the problem, including searches using metal detector wands, CCTV, limiting the number of students in a toilet at one time, and keeping outer doors to toilet blocks open to reduce antisocial behaviour.
When local authorities decide to issue fines to parents whose children have missed significant amounts of education, a child's reason for being absent should be taken into account. Usually, fines only come at the end of a process of trying to engage with families. If these fines are not paid, parents could be prosecuted.
Rachel de Souza, the Children's Commissioner for England, says children and their parents must have "nothing to fear" when seeking support for their particular reasons for being absent.
Claire Huddart - principal of Horizon Community College, Barnsley - leads a five-strong attendance team, who examine the reasons why pupils are missing from school. She says fines are very much a last resort. She said; "If we are working closely with a family and you put in place a fine, that breaks the relationship between home and school. It's so important we keep it positive."
Recent research by NHS Digital found that more than one in five (21%) 15-year-old girls used electronic cigarettes in 2021, more than double the proportion recorded in 2018 (10%). The proportion of girls who vape was seven points higher than the proportion of boys of the same age.