Pubdate: Sat, 06 Nov 2004
Source: Eastern Daily Press (UK)
Copyright: 2004, Archant Regional
Author: Cat Bartman
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Pupils at a Norfolk high school were suspended, after some of their
parents passed on information to staff about cannabis being smoked on
the grounds.

Last night, Graham Hodson, headteacher at Old Buckenham High School,
near Attleborough, praised the parents for their involvement and
warned he would continue to take a tough stance against pupils using

Following an investigation into the allegations, 17 pupils were
excluded from classes for four days just before last month's half-term

The action against the boys and girls, aged 15 and 16, was taken after
it was established from information supplied by parents, including
some whose children were then suspended, that cannabis had been
brought in and smoked at lunchtimes on the school field during the
summer term.

"We obviously involved the parents. There was some concern but the
thing that has most heartened myself and the governors is the degree
of support from all the parents, who have said thank you for dealing
with it, rather than brushing it under the carpet. That has included
the parents of the children who have been excluded.

"The children are now back at school, commitments have been
made. . . and we've effectively moved on."

He added: "I did a whole school assembly on it. I am not prepared to
have this kind of thing. We take a very strong view of tobacco and
alcohol, so obviously cannabis is way beyond that. It was simply an
application of the policy that the governors review."

The school has not had the problem before and Mr Hodson said they had
been "open and honest" about the suspensions.

He thought confusion about the legal status of cannabis could
contribute to the drug being used by youngsters.

"It would be naive to think this is not an issue in society at large.
There is an awful lot of confusion about cannabis. It's been
reclassified. I think some young people mistakenly assume that it's
been declassified. The issue came to our notice and we've dealt with

The school took advice from police, and parents were told about the
situation in a recent newsletter.

No police action was taken against the pupils.

Drugs education is already given at the top-performing school, which
is oversubscribed and has just under 570 pupils, but Mr Hodson said
they would be looking to get the message across even more firmly.

"Of course it's disappointing, but having said that, what it's done is
make us realise just how available cannabis is. We are always vigilant
and we shall continue to be so."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake