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Sober up call on drugs and drink

David Henderson reports from Perth on the pressure building up in staffrooms to harden the union's case for a 'radical adjustment' to internal assessment

SECOND-YEAR pupils in deprived communities regularly boast about the "blaw" (marijuana) they had the night before or how they were out their face on some kind of hooch, Bob Dow, a Glasgow secondary teacher, told delegates.

There is widespread consensus that taking alcohol and drugs is acceptable, especially when many families openly engage and not just at weekends.

"By the time many get to secondary there is a hell of a lot of them abusing not just alcohol but various drugs, and I don't mean just marijuana or ecstasy or whatever," Mr Dow said.

Second year was therefore too late to talk about alcohol and drugs education and current mantras such as "Drugs are for mus" had no effect. Experimentation with drink and drugs was nothing new but their easy availability was.

"Many of the pupils in the school I teach in are going home at night at maybe one in the morning after they have been out having a wee bit of blaw and maw and paw are at it as well.

"Pupils are also going home from school and mother or father or both are out of their face. So we actually can't frighten our students away from alcohol and drugs by rolling out nice wee trite sayings or showing them videos of shivering, sweat-soaked and vomit-drenched youngsters. It just doesn't work. Young people have this belief of immortality - 'it's no going to happen to me'."

He had taught in five secondaries in 25 years and only in one had there not been a second-year pupil who had become pregnant. It was a boys' school.

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