The head teacher of a school in Peterborough in the UK has defended her decision to permit pupils to smoke. The school is a referral unit for children with behavioural issues for students aged 14 to 16.
The Honeyhill Pupil Referral Unit students are permitted two smoking breaks each day, both are supervised, off-site and requires parent permission. Head teacher Claire George says that allowing the students to smoke prevents them from absconding altogether.
Ms George believes the approach from the school has to be very different from the way a normal school is run. 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."
The local MP (Member of Parliament), Stewart Jackson wants the city council to review the policy. But the head teacher points out that the pupils at HoneyHill are challenged and among the most challenging within the city with many having complex issues, "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." She said, "All pupils are required to hand in smoking-related materials at the beginning of each day."