The Telegraph is reporting that school exclusions for drugs and alcohol have risen by 57 per cent in five years, an analysis of official data shows, as “county lines” gangs are blamed.
An analysis of Department for Education (DfE) figures shows that the number of children permanently excluded from secondary schools due to drugs or alcohol is now at its highest on record.
In 2016/17, there were 565 children in England permanently excluded for drugs or alcohol, which is up from 360 five years ago and the highest since this form of data collection began in 2006/7.
During the same five year period, there has been a 90 per cent rise in prosecutions of 15-year-olds for possession with intent to supply drugs, from 29 in 2012/13 to 55 in 2016/17.
A report by Volteface, a think-tank specialising in drug policy, and Mentor UK, a drug education charity, warns that gangs are increasingly targetting children to run “county lines” which facilitate the supply of class A drugs from urban areas to county or coastal and rural towns.
Boris Pomroy, CEO of Mentor UK, said “If you have a 14 or 15-year-old who is using or supplying drugs to friends, and mysteriously disappearing from school, I would like to see headteachers asking questions about why that is happening, rather than expelling them. I understand why schools end up doing what they do. But nonetheless there are young people who are being failed by the system.”
Sam Walters, headmaster of Redbridge Alternative Provision, a PRU in Redbridge, Ilford, said that schools need to “think creatively” and address underlying issues rather than immediately exclude children for drug related issues.
He said: “Schools should not just being saying ‘this young person is dealing drugs, they can’t be here anymore’. They need to ask why are they doing it: have they been exploited by elders in a gang environment, and do they need help getting out?”
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