BY Joe jENICINS THE HEADMASTER of an independent Catholic school in Manchester has expelled two boys and suspended another 18 for the supply and use of cannabis.
John Byrne, headmaster of St Bede's College, reprimanded the fifth-form pupils, fearing that their experiments with cannabis could lead them on to harder drugs. Mr Byrne has asked experts from Lifeline, an agency that counsels heroin users, to lecture to the school's 1,020 pupils.
Writing to parents, Mr Byrne said: "The governors and the staff are at one in deploring the drugs culture which bedevils Greater Manchester. We treat with contempt the notion of the socalled soft drug. I must respectfully ask parents to keep thtir
wits about them with regard to their children's behaviour and social habits. You are only too aware that many of the pubs and clubs are the refuges of the drug-pushers. But equally worrying is the prevalence of drugs at parties where peer pressure may induce the naive teenager to experiment."
Margaret Smart, director of the Catholic Education Service, said that she did not know if Catholic schools were less prone to the circulation of drugs among pupils than non-Catholic schools, but added that drug abuse in Church schools was not rife. "I haven't heard of many examples," she said.
The Headmasters' and Headmistress's Conference of independent schools has suggested that pupils using soft drugs should be given a second chance.