Jul 21 2006
PUPILS at one of our top schools are to be tested for exposure to drugs after their morning assembly.
Margaret Lenton, head-teacher at Slough Grammar School, emphasised that there is not a drug problem among her 1,150 pupils, but that from the start of next term in September her school will pilot a new scheme on testing.
She said: "Do I have a serious drug problem at my school? No, I do not. But I will take any measures to make sure my pupils are safe and secure."
Mrs Lenton said that the drug testing equipment, which simply scans pupils as they walk past it is 'non invasive' and does not require samples like hair fibres.
The scheme has the full backing of governors, parents and teachers at the Lascelles Road school.She said: "This school has a zero tolerance policy towards drugs."
Mrs Lenton said that she does not see the testing as an invasion of privacy. "As far as I know, there are two basic human rights. The right to life and the right not to be enslaved. This does not affect either of them."
She said the drug testing equipment will be operated by a police officer. "It is not invasive like having a DNA swab. They will walk past it at the end of assembly. It will test whether they have been exposed to drugs, including alcohol."
Mrs Lenton said that if it emerges that any pupils are involved in dealing 'they will face the full course of the law. Anyone who is taking, we will bring their parents in. But I don't expect to find any drugs'.
She said that she has volunteered to take part in the scheme and had strong views on drugs. "About five years ago, I went to Rotterdam. I went into the town centre as the guest of the head of a school and the chief education officer.
"You saw young people reeling around the streets. Drugs are tolerated. A woman said to me that Holland has become the drugs capital of the world. She said to me: 'Don't you make the same mistake'."
Mrs Lenton, an East Berkshire magistrate, said she is concerned about the relaxed attitude towards cannabis. "It is now four or five times stronger. The Government has changed it from a B to a C category drug. I don't think this sends out the right message as 75% of crime is drug related. Yet you see people on street corners selling them."
A spokesman for Slough Council said: "Slough Grammar School is the only school taking part in the scheme.