When a legislator says that his/her proposed law is all for the protection of the youth against smoking, the bill is as good as approved. This is because everyone believes that smoking is not a habit meant for children. Thus, when a British School decided to provide students with their smoke breaks, it received intense criticisms from parents and politicians.
Smoking Students In School For A Reason
It was the Honeyhill Pupil Referral Unit located in Peterborough, Cambridge that is involved in this controversy. There are 200 pupils this school caters to and these pupils are in ages 14-16.
School head Claire George she allowed the pupils to have 2 cigarette breaks in a day so they would be stopped from bunking off.
The smoke breaks are allowed under the supervision of their teachers. However, the children will only be allowed to take smoke breaks of 10-minutes if their parents allow or consent to it. School head George said that this is just so the children will not suddenly leave from the school.
Criticized By Politicians And Parents
Despite the fact that the 10-minute sessions will only be allowed with the permission of the students’ parents, MP Stewart Jackson reacted and commented that the children are not adults who can make reasonable decisions. He said that the pupils were only children who follow the rules set for them.
He has called for the local officials to review this practice at Honeyhill Pupil Referral Unit. Stewart said that any reasonable person will be surprised with this decision. One relative (not the parents) of one pupil at the unit whose name was not disclosed expressed of his/her outrage regarding this practice.
At Honeyhill Referral unit, children usually hand over their cigarettes to the school before classes start each day. They are given their cigarettes back for their off-site breaks.
According to Ms. George, pupils attending Honeyhill are those children who have failed numerous times in typical education. Students in the unit can be described to have very special cases. They are the most challenging and most challenged young people in the city. Most of the pupils there have and are dealing with very complex issues.
These children require a different approach from adults handling them. Thus, Ms. George said that they decided on this strategy so they can provide the children with best possible education. With no education, these children might not be able to progress into further education, training or even good employment.
Moreover, for the smoking pupils, the school has a clear set of procedures enforced. At the beginning of school, students and their parents or guardians are asked regarding the health related habits of the pupils.
Their procedure involves giving the smoking pupil 2 10-minutes off-site and fully supervised smoking breaks each day. This only applies to students who are already smoking upon admission and not those who start smoking after they were accepted at Honeyhill unit.
Ms. George stated that they appreciate some critics who will not agree with their decision, but said that they found this approach more effective in their goal to educate the children than merely banning them from smoking. Smoking bans cause students to leave school during the day without permission from teachers and school officials just to smoke.
Last December, Honeyhill received good rating for its outstanding management and leadership from an Ofsted visit.
A Similar Scenario
Honeyhill was not the first school to give dent smoking breaks. Only in October last year, Elmete Central School located in Roundhay, Leeds also allowed students as young as 11 years old to smoke in school. Upon learning of this practice, the city council officials immediately stepped in.
The school officials also had the same purpose for allowing students to smoke; so they will not choose to leave school. At Elmete, there were 75 students who were known to have behavioral and educational issues.
Children’s services deputy director Paul Brennan said that he has spoken with Lesley Boyd, the then recently appointed head teacher at Elmete Central. He believes that the practice has already been stopped.
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