THE Headmaster of one of the most prestigious schools in Tunbridge Wells has warned of a ‘prevalence of drugs’ in West Kent after it was disclosed he has been forced to take disciplinary action against a number of his own pupils.
Edward Wesson, who has been head of The Skinners’ School since 2013, said the grammar school is ‘fully committed’ to tackling the problem of drugs.
His comments come after it emerged that nine pupils from the school’s Year 10, aged 14 to 15, were suspended for drug use in the weeks preceding the Christmas holidays. One pupil is understood to have been subsequently withdrawn from the school.
The boys were reportedly spotted smoking marijuana on the school’s playing fields, leading a neighboring resident to call the police, who then proceeded to turn up and talk to the pupils. The boys were later punished by the school.
Speaking of the incident, Mr Wesson said: “We did have a drugs incident before Christmas. Sadly, we as a school are not immune from the prevalence of drugs in West Kent, and we know that school pupils do get targeted by individuals pushing drugs.
“The issue has been dealt with, and there were indeed sanctions for those involved. Our role is to deal with incidents thoroughly, fairly and robustly, and to remind pupils of the risks beyond school as well: Potential criminal record (and its consequences for higher education, travel and employment), the financial cost and, of course, mental and physical wellbeing.
“Coaching resilience against such temptation is something we are fully committed to: It strikes me that this is the key, as teenagers are bombarded by temptation more than ever, particularly in the era of social media.”
Parents spoke of their shock to the Times. One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “They were all Year 10 pupils aged 14, coming up for 15. Apparently nine of them were suspended and one person has left.
“Everyone in the school knows what happened, although officially parents have not been told anything by the school. The parents are appalled.
“It happened last term at the beginning of December. They were sitting on a wall near the playing field smoking marijuana when a person living nearby called the police, who came along and spoke to the boys.
“It was obvious what they were doing. They were passing spliffs between each other.”
A spokesman for Kent Police confirmed the incident. He said: “Kent Police has been made aware of concerns around the possible misuse of drugs involving a small number of secondary school-aged children in the Tunbridge Wells area.
“Officers are continuing to make enquiries to establish whether any offences have been committed. No arrests have been made.”