More schools to have drugs tests
BBC News May 30, 2006
Random drug testing of pupils is being introduced in
secondary schools across Kent following the success
of a pilot scheme in the county.
The Department for
Education and Skills said it would evaluate the
impact of the scheme, which is being implemented by
Kent County Council (KCC).
A pilot scheme at
Abbey School, in Faversham, saw pupils randomly
selected and tested by taking mouth swabs.
The school said it
was one factor which led to record GCSE results in
Five good GCSE passes
were achieved by 40% of pupils, compared with 26% in
2004 and 32% the year before.
During the scheme,
600 drug tests were carried out on pupils, chosen by
a computer, at the specialist business and
The school's former
headteacher Peter Walker said the fact only one
pupil tested positive for cannabis showed the scheme
had worked as a deterrent.
Now the government is
to fund drug testing in several Kent schools.
secondary heads will be asked if they would like
their school to sign up to the pilot scheme.
Parents will have to
give their consent for children to be tested.
At the Abbey School,
consent was given for 86% of the 960 pupils.
"One of the benefits
is that it helped children to resist peer pressure
to join in with drug taking or other misuse," said
KCC cabinet member for education John Simmonds.
"With all the
external pressures on children we want to be able to
support them as far as we can.
"If testing will help
then it is worth pursuing."
Mr Walker was
appointed as the UK Government's ambassador for
random drug testing when he retired two months ago.
this month he was invited to Washington to discuss
the scheme and met US drugs tsar John Walters at
The White House.
Mr Walker said: "It
is about time all schools came out and accepted that
there is this problem that we need to address.
"Anybody who says
they don't have a drug problem in their school isn't
telling the truth."
The government will
commission research based on the forthcoming Kent
pilot to establish whether there is a direct link
between random testing and behaviour, attendance and