Substance Use Policy

Substance  Use  Policy

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT:-   Policy  Formation   Procedure

This policy was formulated by the Staff ,Board of Management and Parents of St. Joseph’s National School in October 2003 in compliance with the National Drug Strategy and the Education Act (1998). A core committee was established which was representative of our school community. That committee was as follows: –

  Name Representing
1. Deborah Lynch Board of Management
2. Michael Tierney Board of Management
3. SéamusTiernan Teaching Staff
4. Ceri Jones Teaching Staff
5. Breege Brennan Parents Association
6. Mary Charles Parents Association
7. Tony Byrne Local Community (Garda).


Upon ratification this policy will apply to

  • All students attending St. Joseph’s National School during school time and during all school- related activities on or off the premises.
  • All teachers, permanent, Resource/Learning Support and substitute employed in St. Joseph’s National School, during school hours and during all school- related activities on or off the premises while in charge of or responsible for pupils.
  • All parents/guardians of pupils enrolled in St. Joseph’s National School while visiting the premises or assisting in any school related activities.
  • All users and visitors to the school, including all non-teaching staff secretarial, cleaning, special needs assistants and clergy.
  • This policy will apply to the school premises, (including playground) at all times .


Aims OF THE Policy: –


This policy aims to:

  • Meet in so far as is practicable the obligations placed on St. Joseph’s National School under the Education Act 1998 to promote the social and personal development of their students and provide health education for them.
  • Meet the obligations placed on the school by the “National Drug Strategy” “Building on Experience” which requires schools to have a substance use policy in place.
  • Clarify for all who use or access our school, the school policy on the use, abuse, storage of substances, chemical or other that could be considered a risk to the members of the school community
  • To raise awareness among the school community regarding the risks of substance misuse


The substance use policy of St. Joseph’s National School is intended to

  1. Develop a sense of safety and an ability to protect oneself from danger and abuse.
  1. Develop an understanding of healthy living, an ability to implement healthy behaviour.
  1. To become aware of and discerning about choices and decisions.
  1. To begin to identify, review and evaluate the values and attitudes held by individuals and society and recognise that these affect thoughts and actions.



As a school community we are dedicated to the care of everyone who is part of that community and we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for learning.  The introduction of a “Substance Use Policy” reflects that commitment. In formulating this policy we have engaged all the partners in the education process in order to ensure the policy’s successful implementation.


Why is this policy necessary?

The world in which we live presents young people with many challenges, which affect their health and well-being.  Exposure to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and illicit substances is part of this reality.  As a school we aim to provide children with the knowledge and strategies they may require to deal with such exposure.


Definition of a drug


For the purposes of this document a drug is defined as any chemical, which alters how the body works and/or how a person behaves or feels.  It would be impossible to include a definitive list of all such substances in this policy document but the categories included under such a definition includes

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • All illegal drugs
  • Prescription medicines, (sleeping tablets, antibiotics, travel sickness tablets, anti-histamines, painkillers, etc)
  • Over the counter remedies (cough bottles, cold remedies, analgesics )
  • Solvents and solvent based products (tippex, solvent based markers, cleaning agents, gas or petroleum based agents, all aerosols, bleaches etc.)


Current provisions /understanding concerning Substance Use:-

  • Under legislation, the school is a smoke-free zone and, no one is allowed to smoke on the premises either in the school building or grounds.
  • Current legislation on alcohol forbids the sale of alcohol to children under 18 and the consumption of alcohol by persons under 18 in a public place.
    • The current Code of Discipline in place in the school forbids the possession or use of alcohol or tobacco by any pupil, parent or staff member of  the school, during school hours, on the school premises or engaged in school related incidents off premises.
    • The policy also forbids the possession of medication, drugs or substances of a dangerous nature
    • The administration of Medication policy details the current provision for the possession, administration and storage of all medications on the school premises.
    • A health and safety statement has been drawn up for our school, which details the storage arrangements for cleaning agents and other potentially hazardous substances.

Policy  Content

Education concerning Substance Use:-


  1. Education about alcohol, tobacco and drugs will be provided in the broader context of the Social, Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E.) Programme, which is now being delivered in the school.


  1. The area of substance use will be covered in the following Strands and Strand Units at each class level.
Strand________________ Strand Unit_________________
  • Self identity
  • Taking care of my body
  • Growing and changing
  • Safety & Protection
    Myself and others
  • Myself & my family
  • My friends & other people
  • Relating to others
   Myself and the Wider |World
  • Developing citizenship
  • Media Education
  1. Education concerning substance use is provided through specific modules and lessons, through other subjects and special projects as well as teaching on an incidental basis. The subject content of lessons at each class level will be at the discretion of the class teacher, will be age appropriate and modified to suit the multi-class situation that exists in our school.
  1. Through engaging in the S.P.H.E. Programme the pupils will be enabled to:
  • Appreciate the need to care for his/her own body in order to keep it healthy and well.
  • Realise that each individual has responsibility for taking care of him/herself
  • Explore appropriate safety strategies
  • Identify situations and places and substances that might put personal safety at risk.
  • Realise how other people can persuade him/her to engage in unsafe behaviour
  • Realise that many substances used at home or in school are dangerous and permission should be sought before exploring their contents.
  • Explore safety rules that apply when taking medicine.
  • Be aware of the dangers of using tobacco, alcohol and drugs and identify substances that are helpful, harmful, legal or illegal.
  • Become increasingly aware of the influence of the media and peer groups.

5.The school will continue to use the Walk Tall Programme throughout the school to promote awareness of substance use, abuse and safety.

Management of Alcohol, tobacco, and drug related incidents


1.      Incidents relating to the possession or use of alcohol or tobacco by persons on school premises.

  1. Pupils – Teachers will investigate and sanctions will be imposed in accordance with the School Code of Behaviour. Parents and/or Board of Management will be notified as appropriate. If it is suspected that alcohol or tobacco was purchased by a pupil of the school the Gardai will be notified.
  2. Teachers and other non-teaching staff –
    • Staff will be reminded of the school policy on alcohol and tobacco use on school premises. They will be asked to immediately desist from using same and remove it from the school premises.
    • Incidents may be reported to the Board of Management if appropriate
  1. Parents and Visitors –
  • Will be advised of the school policy, asked to immediately desist from using same and remove it from the school premises.


  1. Incidents relating to the discovery, possession or use of drugs (as defined above) on school premises.


  1. If drugs or dangerous substances are discovered on school grounds pupils will be removed from the area, Gardai notified and the area preserved until Gardai arrive.
  2. In the event of a person found to be in possession of drugs, Gardai will be notified. In the case of a pupil, parents/guardians will also be notified and the matter dealt with in accordance with the Code of Behaviour.
  3. In the case of a person found or suspected to be under the influence of drugs or other prohibited substances Gardai will be notified.(In the case of pupils, parents/guardians will be notified). Medical assistance will be sought if required.


Roles and  Responsibilities:-


Principal and Staff

  • The Principal is responsible for the day to day management of the school and for the creation of a school environment, which is supportive of learning and safe for the whole school community. In light of this the responsibility for enforcing this policy rests with the principal and with the teaching staff are responsible for the various class groupings.


  • The principal will provide Board of Management with a copy of this document for ratification.

The Board of Management

  • The Board of Management will, on ratification of the Policy, supply all parents with a copy of this Policy. It will also be made available to parents registering a child in the school.

The Parents

  • It shall be the responsibility of the parents to familiarise themselves

With this policy document and then make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with the code by their children and by themselves when on the school premises.

  • It shall be the responsibility of the parents to support the teachers and Board of Management in the implementation of this policy document.