This policy applies to all students engaged in school activities both within the school building and when participating in school events outside of school, under the supervision of school staff.

Relationship to School’s Mission Statement

Scoil Chiarain strives to maximise the learning skills, social skills, self worth and sense of independence of its pupils.(Mission Statement). The school provides a comprehensive SPHE (Social, Personal, and Health Education) programme for all students and promotes a healthy independent lifestyle for students both in school and in preparation for their lives outside and beyond school. The substance misuse policy reflects our school’s ethos and seeks to promote the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to help our students make healthy and safe choices.


  • The world in which we live presents young people with many challenges which affect their health and well-being. Exposure to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is part of this reality. Schools need to reflect upon how they might provide for the needs of their student cohort and respond appropriately to what are sometimes sensitive and emotional issues.
  • The Education Act (1998) provides that schools should promote the social and personal development of students and provide health education for them.
  • The National Drugs Strategy “Building on Experience” is now Government policy and it requires schools to have a substance use policy in place.
  • The recent report from the National Advisory Committee on Drugs entitled “Drug Use Prevention” (Nov 2001) underlines the importance of schools developing substance use policies.
  • Studies have identified that there is a problem with teenage abuse of alcohol in Ireland and that tobacco and other drug use is above the European average.

Goals / Objectives

The “Walk Tall” and “On My Own Two Feet” programmes aim to give children and young people the confidence, skills and knowledge to make healthy choices. The programme also seeks to avert or at least delay experimentation with substances and reduce the demand for legal and illegal drugs. 

It is not aimed specifically at children who are misusing drugs frequently, or who are living with addiction, although they can benefit from the programme. The needs of these children may be more fully addressed by support from other agencies in consultation with parents or guardians, and school programmes can complement such interventions.

The policy also aims to inform parents and professionals working with students about the programmes in use and how to handle any problems arising relating to substances in school.


The term “substances” in this policy refers to tobacco products, alcohol and both legal (over the counter and prescribed drugs), (solvents) and illegal drugs. The term drug is defined as “any chemical which alters how the body works or how a person behaves or feels”

Policy Content

In Scoil Chiarain the Substance Use policy is intended to address 3 main areas:

  1. Education concerning substance use within the SPHE curriculum through the use of the Walk Tall and On My Own Two Feet programmes.
  2. The Management of alcohol, tobacco and drug-related incidents involving students.
  3. Provision of training and staff development in this area.

Area 1 – Education concerning substance use

The Substance Misuse programme is part of the SPHE programme of the school. (See SPHE policy document)The programme aims to develop Knowledge, Skills and Values & Attitudes. The programme is presented in an age appropriate manner throughout the school and the programmes in use are generally divided as follows:

Primary 1 & 2 Junior & Senior Infants Walk Tall programme
Primary 3 & 4 1st & 2nd Class Walk Tall programme
Post-Primary 1 & 2  3rd & 4th Class Walk Tall programme
Post-Primary 3 & 4 5th & 6th Class Walk Tall programme
PP 5 – Senior Cycle 2 Selected themes from On My Own Two Feet post-primary programme

Within the SPHE programme teachers are encouraged to use the booklet “Making the Links” to integrate the work within this area with the Stay Safe and RSE programmes and with other subject areas within the curriculum. The main themes in substance use education are: self esteem, feelings, influences, decision making and drugs awareness. 

Students in Primary 4 class are also engaged in preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation. As part of this programme, students are encouraged to consider their future in relation to alcohol and drugs as they prepare to take the pledge as part of the Confirmation ceremony. Children are engaged in discussions to consider the many advantageous uses of prescription drugs, the potential harm of illegal/unprescribed, tobacco and alcohol and to develop healthy choices for themselves as teenagers.

The Knowledge element of the Substance Misuse programme aims to address:
a)    What is a drug
b)    Effects of drugs
c)    Different kinds of drugs
d)    Use and misuse
e)    Risk taking
f)    Substances in the home / community/ countryside/ school
g)    Medicines and their uses
h)    Alcohol, nicotine, solvents, legal and illegal drugs
i)     Drugs and the law
j)    Advertising techniques
k)    People who can help us

The Skills element deals with:
a)    Self esteem
b)    Communication
c)    Assertiveness
d)    Dealing with feelings
e)    Dealing with conflict
f)    Dealing with responses from others
g)    Decision making
h)    Problem solving
i)     Developing positive relationships
j)     Keeping safe
k)    Dealing with loss
l)     Dealing with stress
m)    Resisting peer pressure
n)    Knowing where to go for help

The Values and Attitudes fostered within these programmes include:
a)    Respect for self and others
b)    Responsibility for self and others
c)    Saying no to friends

As with other areas of the SPHE programme, teachers must assess what is the most appropriate starting point for their group, taking into consideration their stage of development and individual circumstances and build on existing knowledge. Parents should be informed that the students are engaged in the programme and an opportunity given for parents to inspect materials and discuss the content with teachers.

Methodologies will include class discussions, circle time activities, use of film and TV programmes, role play, art work, brainstorming, co-operative games, stories, quizzes and project work. Garda community officers or other appropriate visitors may be invited to talk to groups. 

Assessment will be based on teacher observations, teacher designed tests and tasks, projects and folders and feedback from students and parents.
The resources required for this programme are available from the Resource Library in the Senior Area.

Area 2 – Management of alcohol, tobacco and drug-related incidents


The Code of Discipline states that “smoking by pupils is strictly forbidden in any part of the school”. A student who breaks this rule will be sanctioned in the usual manner, i.e. verbal reprimand, letter to parents if repeat of misbehaviour and leading to possible suspension for continued disregard for the rules. If cigarettes are found on a student in school they will be confiscated until home time when they will be returned.

We recognise that despite adult advice it is likely that a number of senior students will smoke. While no student is allowed to smoke during the school day or while engaged in school related activities (trips or sporting events), it is necessary to make some concessions for senior students on the senior holiday where they are staying away from home for a number of days. Generally this has been addressed (with agreement from parents) by identifying a safe place, away from the main cohort of students, where a student may smoke when not engaged in group activities.


Students are not allowed to bring alcohol onto school premises or to consume alcohol when engaged in school activities, either within or outside of school. If a student is found to have alcohol with them at school, it will be confiscated and only returned to a parent or responsible adult.

Where there is a suspicion that a student is under the influence of alcohol, or suffering the after effects of over indulgence, parents will be contacted to bring the student home. Following discussions with parents, it may be considered helpful to refer the child to a support service if appropriate.
Where a student involves other students in drinking alcohol by supplying alcohol, all parents will be contacted and the supplier suspended until the Board of Management considers the most appropriate response. This would be considered a serious breach of school discipline.

Senior students attending the Debs Ball may be supplied with a limited amount of alcoholic drink, with their parent’s permission, if they are 18 years of age. It has been the custom to provide a glass of wine with the Debs meal and a limited amount of lager beer later in the night. A variety of minerals are also available. However, students are warned that if they arrive at the function under the influence of alcohol they may not be admitted and have to return home and miss the event.


While drug use has not been a problem within our school, it is important to consider what steps would be taken if the issue arose with a student. As with alcohol, where a staff member is concerned that a student was under the influence of some substance and unable to participate fully in school, the parents would be informed and asked to remove the child. Further discussion may help to clarify the situation and to determine when and if the student was ready to return to school or required specialist support or help. Where immediate medical intervention is required, an ambulance will be called to remove the student to hospital.

If a student is found in possession of drugs in school, the drugs will be immediately confiscated and may be handed to Gardai to assist with any follow up investigation. This would be considered a serious breach of school rules. Parents will be immediately informed. Gardai may also be called to search a student is there is sufficient suspicion that a student is in possession of drugs on the school premises. Parents would be contacted to be present for such a search.

Where a student involves another student in illegal/unsafe drug taking, parents of the students involved will be contacted and the supplier suspended until the Board of Management considers the most appropriate response. The Gardai may be involved as a result of drug dealing or supply within or involving students from the school.

The Administration of Medication policy outlines the safeguards in place to ensure students do not have access to drugs within the school. Parents may apply to the Board of Management if their child requires medication during the day. Parents are always asked to deliver drugs themselves to an adult member of staff or to ask the bus escort to deliver them on their behalf. Students should not be given the responsibility of carrying drugs/medication of any kind without prior permission from the BOM.

Area 3 – Provision for training and staff development

The Board of Management is committed to supporting ongoing staff development and training and sets aside a budget for this each year. Details of inservice training are displayed on the staff notice board and arrangements are made to release staff from school duties when appropriate. Where staff identify a particular curricular area requiring support, the Primary Curriculum Support programme or Walk Tall Support office may be available to deliver additional staff training.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Board of Management will continue to support staff training needs, make funding available for teaching resources and consider appropriate support or sanctions for students referred to them.

The Principal will support staff and parents in implementing the substance use programme and keep the BOM informed of issues requiring board consideration.

Staff members will continue to deliver the programme in an appropriate manner and to report any concerns that may arise in relation to any particular pupils.

Success Criteria

While this may be difficult to judge, it is hoped that our students will develop a healthy lifestyle and the skills to make responsible decisions.
Positive feedback from parents and responsible attitudes among students would indicate that the programme was worthwhile and effective.


Timetable for Review

October 2017.

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management of Scoil Chiaráin

Latest News

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26 July 2021
19 June 2020




St. Canice's Rd,


Dublin 11,

D11 VK64



Telephone: (01) 8370622
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