How should schools approach addiction among teachers?

As published on in October 2014

What happens when one of your teachers faces a personal problem of addiction? Legal expert Clare Young offers her advice.

Many of us are familiar with the feeling – you were at a “do” the night before and have come in the next day still suffering the after effects; possibly late or too hungover to function at your peak.

But when this sort of thing becomes a frequent occurrence and risks tipping over into possible addiction, and the employee in question is a teacher, how should the school approach this?

With the safety of students paramount and the reputation of the school potentially at risk, steps must be taken to find a solution. In years gone by, dismissal would have been the obvious end point. 

These days, although dismissal may ultimately be required, most institutions will not jump to the conclusion that the individual is not fit to teach. Structured risk-assessments should be undertaken to ensure that, while the employee’s dependency is managed with compassion, the pupils and students under their care are also protected at all times. Clearly, collaborating with the employee to conquer the dependency (whether alcohol or drugs) is preferable for all parties. 

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.