Helping schools take a zero-tolerance approach to vaping

The HALO Smart Sensor provides intelligence to support schools

students outside school zero-tolerancestudents outside school zero-tolerance

Tackling vaping is a major challenge for schools and some are now indicating they will take a zero-tolerance approach with students. As we have discovered for many schools it is the poor behaviour that can accompany vaping that is particularly troublesome.

A survey of teachers published in September 2023 by the teaching union, the NASUWT, cited vaping and nicotine as a reason for poor pupil behaviour among respondents who believed this had deteriorated in recent years.

Therefore, being serious about tackling vaping helps to create a better atmosphere and learning environment within a school. Additionally, educating children about the problems are part of their statutory duties to deliver health education on drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and to promote pupils’ physical, mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Recent guidance for schools on vaping produced by the Association of Directors of Public Health’s South East network indicates that their role falls into two categories of managing behaviour relating to vaping and secondly, incorporating vaping prevention into the whole school’s approach to health and wellbeing.

Schools tell parents they are taking a zero-tolerance approach to vaping

In letters to parents some schools have stated that are taking a zero-tolerance approach to vaping and updating their behaviour policies to reflect this. Although guidance produced by the public health charity ASH, advises against suspension for vaping, unless it is accompanied by poor behaviour, the policies of some schools suggest vaping itself can be a justification for exclusion.

A number of schools have amended recently amended their behaviour policies, and written to parents to indicate that if their pupils are caught vaping or they are in a group that are vaping then they will be suspended.

Schools have also indicated that they will search the bags of students for vapes if they believe it is necessary. Under governmental guidance issued in 2022 headteachers, or staff authorised by the headteacher, can carry out a search. Schools have a statutory power to search for particular items but if they want to search for vapes this needs to be specified in the school rules.

How the advanced HALO Smart Sensor can support schools

While schools may use staff to monitor toilets and areas in the school where vaping and anti-social behaviour is occurring, this is labour intensive when there are many pressures on schools. The use of an advanced vape detector, which can also monitor a range of other factors, like the HALO Smart Sensor, can ensure the school can react quickly. Schools can then deal with students caught vaping in the appropriate way according to their policies.

The key features of the HALO Smart Sensor that will benefit schools:

  • Advanced vape detection: the HALO is the only device on the market that can alert and differentiate between vaping, vaping with THC (cannabis), and intentionally masking vaping behaviour, by using aerosols to cover up vaping.
  • Recognises all forms of vaping devices: it is the only sensor on the market that can detect ‘Heat Not Burn’ vapes
  • Ability to detect abnormal noise levels: this could suggest anti-social behaviour by students. The sensor will literally learn what the normal sound levels are within its environment and then send alerts when a threshold above normal is detected for a specified length of time.
  • Recognition of calls for help: the HALO also comes preloaded with five spoken keyword phrases related to emergency situations providing students with added protection.

How schools use the Halo Smart Sensor to reduce vaping

Ecl-ips customers have used the HALO Smart Sensor along with other measures to intercept students. Charlotte Slattery, Deputy Head Teacher at St Joseph’s College in Stoke-on-Trent said: “I would advise having a team of people (including non-teaching staff) who can respond.  We also have CCTV showing the entrance to the toilets – this has also been very useful for the times when students have left before we have arrived.” Matthew Carpenter, Principal at Baxter College in Kidderminster, said: “You will receive a significant number of alerts and need to be able to respond quickly. I would also recommend pairing the sensor with a CCTV camera near the entrance to the toilet so you can quickly identify students who were in the toilets and considering a wand-style metal detector to support checking coats and bags.”

The results led to a reduction in vaping in the schools and less disruptive and anti-social behaviour. Charlotte added: “Being able to identify students who are vaping has also allowed us to have much more meaningful conversations with our young people about the dangers of vaping and garner support from parents.  This is helping us to have open dialogue with students that we hope will become more of a proactive message, in time, rather than a reactive one.”

The HALO Smart Sensor allows schools to take a tough zero-tolerance approach to vaping while also providing them with the space to inform and educate their students about the health concerns around vapes and nicotine addiction. If you would like to know more about the HALO Smart Sensor and how it can help your school please get in touch.