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Latymer Upper-drug issues?

(64 Posts)
princessllama Tue 20-Feb-18 10:33:20

does anyone have any helpful info on what the drug situation is at Latymer Upper. i have been hearing from 2 different sources that it is a bit of an issue. we are trying to decide whether to send our dc in September. I love everything i have heard about LU so far-great teaching and pastoral care etc, but the drugs issue has me worried.
i would be grateful for any info

OP’s posts: |
LarkDescending Tue 20-Feb-18 12:02:06

I understand from a friend who is a current LU parent that there has been a recent situation involving a small number of students, which has been dealt with firmly and on a zero-tolerance basis. Friend (whose DD was not involved) remains very happy with the school, and if anything reassured by the firm approach to this incident and good open communication between school and parents about it.

MsHeliotrope Tue 20-Feb-18 13:27:23

Also, have heard about this via friends, who were delighted by school's swift and firm approach to situation. Drugs are an issue at all London schools - outside London too. My friends love the school, I wouldn't let this put you off, quite the opposite.

tinkerella1 Tue 20-Feb-18 13:29:10

I'm pretty sure that every school has this crop up at some point. I have no knowledge of LU but I think all independents are acutely aware ensuring parents informed on anything to do with the drug misuse. And thats starts from educating the parents in what to look out for, down to tackling individual pupils. I don't think any school can pretend it's never happened at their school and it shouldn't put you off if its the right school for your child. It will happen at all schools despite the best efforts of staff and parents.

DullAndOld Tue 20-Feb-18 13:31:44

Drugs are an 'issue' at every secondary school in the country, tbh .At least this school has been seen to be dealing with it.

princessllama Tue 20-Feb-18 13:32:01

Thanks missheliotrope and larkdescending. I’ve heard that as well as this there is a problem higher up the school too. I agree the swift response on the 13year olds sounded impressively swift and reassuring

OP’s posts: |
princessllama Tue 20-Feb-18 14:27:32

Ok, heve just spoken to another LU mother who thinks the school is fabulous too. Dullandold and tinkerla- good point, it is in every school you are right

OP’s posts: |
princessllama Tue 20-Feb-18 14:29:12

Am calmed down and will now focus on whether it is actually the right school for my cheery geeky child rather than choosing based on one story
Thank you all

OP’s posts: |
FoxesAreFabulous Tue 20-Feb-18 14:35:23

My DD is at LU and in the same year group as the students involved, although not in the same friendship groups. As a previous poster has said, every school will have some kind of issue like this at some point. LU's school rules are very clear about a zero-tolerance policy towards any kind of drugs and the school provides regular drug awareness sessions for students and parents. I think it's incredibly sad for all concerned when something like this happens in a school and you can bet that the head will have lost sleep over this, but the school has acted swiftly and communicated very clearly with the parents of the whole year group about this. It's a fantastic school and this issue hasn't made me feel any differently about it at all; my DD loves the school and is thriving there

FoxesAreFabulous Tue 20-Feb-18 14:37:11

BTW princessllama, my DD is fairly geeky too and has fitted right in! The school really encourages students to think independently and pursue their own interests, however esoteric they may be!

princessllama Wed 21-Feb-18 15:26:25

Thanks foxes. That was my thoughts after going to visit last night too. We loved it

OP’s posts: |
Thisisconfusing Wed 21-Feb-18 20:24:46

Foxes do LU do drug awareness earlier than year 10. You seem to be implying that is so. I only ask because I have DC at London indies and they do drug awareness only in / from Year 10 but OP implied some issues with 13 year olds ( so year 8 or 9) so presumably they might not have had that programme unless LU do earlier. I don't think that affects your decision OP at all, the right fit is the most important thing ( and DD had offer for and seriously considered LU ie I would have been happy for her to go there, but for other reasons she chose elsewhere ). I'm just interested that's all. The other LU parents on this thread seem happy the issue is dealt with .

stateschoolparent Wed 28-Feb-18 11:07:14

The Sunday Times reported that Latymer has expelled or "forced out" seven year 9 pupils (so seven 13-14 year olds) for cannabis. I presume they were smoking it off the school premises and I am slightly shocked that people are " delighted by the school's swift and firm approach to situation". What if it was their son or daughter who was "forced out" and where are they supposed to go in the middle of the school year? To damage the academic careers of seven bright young people who were only 13/14 seems to me wholly disproportionate to the alleged offence.
Indeed The Sunday Times quotes Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, as saying some schools have more lenient policies."In some schools, if a pupil is found to be in possession of a soft drug they might be given a second chance — but would be put on a regime of drugs testing,” he said. Surely a second chance coupled with a final warning/drugs testing would have been more appropriate here, particularly for a school which is supposed to be progressive?

choselatymer Wed 28-Feb-18 11:18:24

stateschoolparent as I understand, the smoking happened in the premises. It is inadmissible. The school's swift action means other children will think twice before doing the same. It has sent a clear message. The school is helping the families to navigate the situation. The school conducted interviews and neither you nor me know what those interviews revealed in terms of it being a repeated offence or some of those children dealing or profiting from it. We just don't know. The children knew what they were doing and if it was my child I would be taking responsibility for his/her behaviour.

nocampinghere Wed 28-Feb-18 11:24:33

I would be VERY surprised if a school expelled a bunch of students for smoking cannabis out of school. Surely that would require drugs education & possibly testing.

In school however, definitely should be expelled.

stateschoolparent Wed 28-Feb-18 12:21:58

choselatymer- I agree that no-one seems to know what happened. I was told by a Latymer parent that it was off the premises. This may not be true although I would be surprised if there was anywhere on the Latymer site 7 pupils could safely smoke cannabis. As for the school's action making other children 'think twice', I doubt it will make any difference in the long run. Indeed a quick google search shows 6 Latymer pupils "disciplined' for smoking cannabis in 2005, 4 pupils expelled for ecstasy in 2006 and 4 expelled for cocaine in 2010. Cannabis is now even legal in some US states and IMO a 13/14 year old is too young to be expelled for it without a second chance. Teenagers' brains are wired to be impulsive/take foolish risks and they need help overcoming the lure of drugs . A final warning/drugs testing regime would IMO clearly be more likely to achieve that than expulsion, and avoid damaging the education of seven kids with potentially great academic futures. I don't see how the school can help the families "navigate the situation" -its a bit late for that.

choselatymer Wed 28-Feb-18 13:08:15

stateschoolparent I share your concern for the children in question and I happen to know a few of the families. It's dreadful for them. But I was told the smoking happened inside the school. The fact that it's legal in the US means very little, it's legal to marry a 13 year old in Yemen. What matters is that possession is illegal here and a 13 year old knows that. If they don't, then the parents have not had the many important talks we had with DS before he started secondary school. Yes, teenagers can be impulsive, foolish and risk takers, but if the school has to treat them as such thus giving a second chance for most infringements, where do you draw the line? I would expect the same action the school has taken in this case to be taken in a case of continuous bullying, sexting, harassment, etc.

gillybeanz Wed 28-Feb-18 13:15:33

OP, I don't know about this school, but my dd school has th odd 6th former who drinks, takes drugs etc.
They have zero tolerance to drugs and those identified are expelled, not even suspended.
Depending on the individual circumstances of drinking it is either suspension or expulsion.
There can be drugs in any school, imo it's how the school handle the situation and their policies.

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Feb-18 13:16:29

Stateschoolparent, parents will have different views on young teenagers taking drugs. It will certainly be important for some parents that a school does not allow a "drug culture" with the attendent peer pressure, to take hold.

Without knowing the details of this incident I would be surprised if the school did not use a good level of context before making decisions about whether to exclude or expel any pupil. Indeed I would expect both parent and pupil to be aware of possible consequences should they continue to push against boundaries. LU has both a reputation for "sparky" or "cool" students, and for strong academic and other achievements. I think they bridge the gap by strong pastoral care, and clear rules. A standard complaint is that they hand out detentions like confetti during the first term, calming down once students understand what is expected of them.

DD went through two London secondaries including Latymer, aware of the London drug culture but never feeling under any pressure to be part of it. She has been very surprised at how prevalent drug use is at University, how pernicious some of the peer pressure is, and just how dull and unmotivated some drug users are. Many parents will welcome and support a school that takes a firm but fair line in order to keep a lid on any nascent drug culture. This is perhaps something that attracts London parents to schools within the private sector.

Latymer2018 Wed 28-Feb-18 13:29:41

I'm a Latymer parent too, and whilst I feel very sad indeed for the children and their parents, I have a lot of faith in the Latymer Head. Whilst I don't know him personally, he strikes me as a compassionate and thoughtful man who would not take such action unless he felt it was justified. I suspect that there is much more to this than any of us know. At least the school is seen to be taking a strong line on this, unlike some of the other top London schools which have chosen to avoid publicity in the past. Would I rather my DCs were at Latymer and weathering this storm than at other nearby schools where the drugs policy is less clear? Absolutely.

stateschoolparent Wed 28-Feb-18 15:14:40

chose latymer-although possession of cannabis is illegal in the UK it is treated differently from hard drugs and-under police guidelines- an adult caught in possession of cannabis for personal use is normally given a warning or (if they have already had one or more warnings) a fixed penalty fine of £90 . They wouldn't generally get charged/a criminal record until at least the third occasion.In other words society regards possession of cannabis as a very minor offence and obviously it is something you are doing to yourself and not to others (unlike harassment, bullying etc.) .
Needmoresleep- You say "Many parents will welcome and support a school that takes a firm but fair line in order to keep a lid on any nascent drug culture. This is perhaps something that attracts London parents to schools within the private sector." I can assure you that in my experience there is far less drug taking among MC pupils at London state schools than at London private schools where it has always been rife.
Latymer2018: The school expelled seven 13/14 year old pupils and reported them to the police according to the Sunday Times. If your DCs had been caught smoking cannabis, I suspect you would be very happy for them to have been at other nearby schools where the policy is "less clear". IMO the pupils deserved another chance although I accept most of you don't seem to agree so I'll shut up now..

Lotsofsighing Wed 28-Feb-18 15:31:54

I'm with you stateschoolparent, I think this seems terrifyingly harsh. These are seven kids who presumably worked hard to get into what's a v selective school thrown out mid term on a first-strike basis.

I've a child the same age and while I hope they're not smoking weed (and I'm fairly confident they're not but I'm guessing that these parents probably thought the same), I would hope that if they were caught once they'd be given a bit more compassion than this. These kids are left without a school aged 13/14 which seems wholly disproportionate.

Like I say, I'm pretty certain mine isn't smoking. However, they recently did something incredibly stupid which shocked us. Teenagers are hardwired to try to keep up with friends and to not think through the consequence of their actions.

Brutneyspies Wed 28-Feb-18 15:36:57

To those moaning about harshness, you clearly have absolutely no knowledge of what actually happened but are picking up on an equally ill-informed newspaper report and some internet gossip. With respect, I suggest you don't comment on things you know nothing about.

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Feb-18 15:41:42

"I can assure you that in my experience there is far less drug taking among MC pupils at London state schools than at London private schools where it has always been rife. "

Your experience is clearly different. Ours, as I suggested, is that it is very possible to go through London private schools like Latymer and not feel under any pressure to experiment with drugs. In contrast appears, if students DD has come across at University are typical, is that elsewhere (and as it happens outside the private sector) drug taking appears to be normalised to the extent that it is socially hard to resist. I mentioned to a friend whose daughter had been at one of these schools, who confirmed that the widespread party culture was a very big reason behind a decision to leave.

Yes, some drugs are more risky than others. But in terms of protecting relatively young children, I suspect it is safer to simply restrict all, with a "just say no" line. The problem really happens when kids assume that drug use is normal and acceptable. 13 years can't buy alcohol or cigarettes. Cannabis use should equally not be minimised.

Lotsofsighing Wed 28-Feb-18 16:14:28

Actually Brutney I was going on what a y9 parent at Latymer told me and not a newspaper report so I'll respectfully throw back to you what you said about not commenting etc.

(Has anyone ever used the phrase 'with respect' respectfully?)

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