Only 15 per cent of primary teachers and fewer than half of secondary teachers have received training in drugs education, according to a survey by a teachers' union which shows that nearly all secondary schools have problems with pupils smoking and most have problems with pupils drinking alcohol, writes Frances Rafferty.
The survey also showed that eight out of 10 primary schools and 40 per cent of schools and further education colleges have no drugs education policy.
Cracking Drugs in Schools, a report by the Professional Association of Teachers, wants cigarette advertising to be banned within a half-mile radius of schools.
It says there is a huge generation gap in perceptions about drugs. "Many adults, including teachers, are ignorant and frightened . . . Youngsters seem very knowledgeable about drugs but are sometimes unaware of their dangers. "
The survey of 483 teachers showed that the majority were also concerned about the numbers of children who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. More than 70 per cent of secondary teachers said their school had problems with pupils drinking alcohol and 90 per cent with pupils smoking.
And while the use of hard drugs is not apparent in many schools, the use of cannabis, glue, solvents, Ecstasy and Tipp-Ex is widespread. The report says that teachers, particularly in primary schools, do not have enough training to spot the warning signs.
Geoffrey Carver, PAT's professional officer for education, said: "We cannot afford to be complacent. As yet, many schools have neither a drugs education nor a drugs incident policy. We hope these survey results will make some schools think again."