A NORTH-EAST drugs and alcohol testing firm is calling for controversial drug and alcohol testing programme for teachers before and during employment.

The company, CSI, has recently invested £1m in its high tech laboratories at NETPark in County Durham.

It claims that there is a disturbing increase in the number of teachers who have been convicted of drugs and alcohol abuse, with one County Durham teacher being recently imprisoned for dealing and using a class A drugs.

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CSI founder, MD and executive chairman, Trevor Hall states: “Teachers are responsible not only for teaching but also for the welfare of our youngsters. So, they should be tested, along with other professions, and be accountable for their criminal actions outside of school hours which clearly impact on their ability and judgment during school hours. The young and vulnerable in society need a teacher’s full attention.

“Alcohol abuse is also a major concern in the teaching environment - with growing numbers of teachers convicted for drink driving offences. The DfE is very quick to scrutinise other people working on school sites such as cleaners, building contractors and parents - imposing stringent police clearances to allow them to work on school sites but teachers appear to be exempt from such scrutiny. CRB checks are not a complete answer to the historical activities of an individual’s undetected criminal activity around drug abuse.

“At present, teachers convicted of class-B and class-C drug offences are allowed back into the classroom and a criminal record for smoking cannabis or using amphetamines is not enough to see a teacher removed from their post - nor does it show they have or are reforming their addiction. Mr Hall added: “The role of a teacher is not just to impart knowledge to learners; it is to give moral guidance and you cannot provide moral leadership if you don’t set an example. While it is widely recognised that teachers would be prohibited from teaching if they use class-A substances such as heroin, cocaine or ecstasy – this prohibition needs to be rolled out to include other classes of drug groups.

CSI will be holding a series of seminars across the North East to raise awareness of drugs and alcohol abuse and what employers can do about it.

The first seminar “The Silent Majority” - will be held on Thursday May 15 at Redworth Hall Hotel, near Darlington, with leading speakers from the medical profession, the police and industry. But Mike McDonald, North-East secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, objected to CSI’s proposals.

“CSI Durham appear to be confusing themselves with CSI Miami! Ignorance never prevented anyone from expressing an opinion and CSI seem to think they know all about teaching and learning based on nothing other than their own acute business interest,” said Mr McDonald.

“That is hardly surprising given that the two Michaels, Gove and Wilshaw, have long since declared open season on teachers blaming them for the ills of the world. That CSI should see schools as a cash cow to finance their recent investment in their laboratories is perfectly understandable given Gove’s desire to see schools run for profit. In common with Gove it would appear that CSI don’t let the facts get in the way of a good sound bite and are justifying their desire to profit at schools expense on a single case.”

Mr McDonald said teachers are subject to the same laws as the rest of the population and transgression cannot be condoned.

“ However, to base a business case on the mistakes of one individual and to tar all teachers with that brush is totally unacceptable. The majority of local authorities already have drug and alcohol policies in place to deal with any member of staff who abuses them. Local authorities do not need the seminars and tests on offer from CSI though I am sure they are delighted with the publicity generated by their press release.”