DfES issues new drugs guidance

Headteachers will have the power to search pupils’ lockers as part of controversial government guidance designed to clampdown on drugs.

The move comes as the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) seeks to tackle the problem of drug use among children of school age.

Earlier reports that staff would be asked to conduct searches and use sniffer dogs prompted concern among teachers.

The guidance urges extreme caution when utilising any of these methods. Teachers will not be expected to frisk pupils or search their personal property, but will be allowed to seek consent for urine samples and search school lockers.

“We believe that headteachers should have every tool in the box when it comes to drug education and prevention,” said schools minister Stephen Twigg. “The guidance issued today gives clear advice on the best ways to deal with any issue around drugs.”

Union leaders have broadly welcomed the initiative to tackle drugs through random testing, but remain concerned that their members could be put in a difficult position implementing the policy.

“Our concern centres around giving head teachers the power to do these drug tests,” Chris Keates of the NASUWT told Sky News this morning. “We do not think that is appropriate and is in danger in fact of undermining the seriousness of the process.

“Schools often do not have the facilities for this sort of thing.”