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Honeyhill Pupil Referral Unit Allows Pupils To Smoke

March 8, 2014

Personally, I can see this from both sides. I can see where the teachers are coming from but I still don’t agree with teachers allowing children under 16 to smoke.

Teachers are adults, in a position of authority over children, their pupils.The law of the country says you have to be aged at least 16 to smoke in a public place.

I realise the article says the children are given off site smoking breaks, supervised. But when they go offsite, they must be standing out in the open air, in public. So, for 14 and 15 year olds to smoke offsite is illegal.

A more serious point- the legal minimum age for buying cigarettes is 18. So, are the 14-16 year olds allowed to buy the cigarettes themselves?

Personally, I hope not. I would hate to think that my teenage child’s teachers were allowing, or encouraging, them to break the law, no matter what the circumstances.

The head teacher of a school for children with behavioural issues has defended her decision to permit pupils to smoke.

Students aged 14 to 16 at the Honeyhill Pupil Referral Unit in Peterborough are allowed two supervised off-site smoking breaks each day, with parental consent.

Claire George said allowing smoking stopped some pupils from “absconding”.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said he had asked the city council, which runs the unit, to review the policy.

Ms George said: “Pupils who attend Honeyhill do so because they have failed, many more than once, in mainstream education.

“They are amongst the most challenged and challenging young people within the city and most have complex issues.”

The school’s approach to keeping them in the education system therefore had to be “different”, she said.

“Our approach is that pupils who already smoke on admission can, with parental consent, have up to two 10-minute, off-site, fully supervised smoking breaks a day.

“We appreciate that some people will not agree with this approach, but we have found it far more effective than simply banning smoking, which our experience shows us leads to pupils not attending school or absconding during the day to smoke unsupervised, often in dangerous situations.

“All pupils are required to hand in smoking-related materials at the beginning of each day,” she said.

‘End the practice’

The pupils were also offered support to stop smoking, Ms George added.

A spokesperson for anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said: “If the unit does not allow alcohol or drugs, why would they allow smoking?

“It is totally out of kilter with current health advice and they should think seriously about reversing the policy.”

The Conservative Mr Jackson said: “I’ve asked the city council to review this with the school and try to find a way to end the practice.”

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