FIVE pupils have been excluded from Tenbury High School because of drug-related issues.

The young people involved have been taken out of the school, which is part of the Ormiston Academy group and which has issued a statement confirming the exclusions.

“As a school, we are committed to ensuring that all students receive the best possible education in a safe and secure learning environment. We have high standards, including in behaviour, and we are proud of our school’s inclusive and supportive culture.

“Whilst permanent exclusions are very rare in our school, it was the most appropriate action to take on these two occasions.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach to drug use and make no apologies for that.

“The decisions were taken in the best interests of both the students involved and the vast majority of students whose behaviour is exemplary.

“We take our duty of care to all our students incredibly seriously and have therefore closely liaised with the relevant authorities to ensure that the students involved in these two isolated incidents had places with alternative education providers, so that they could receive the appropriate and additional educational support required to fulfil their potential.

“We also provide ongoing education programmes to all which cover a range of safeguarding matters, including keeping safe.”

Ken Pollock, who represents Tenbury on Worcestershire County Council, has said he recognises that exclusion may be the correct decision for the school, but has concerns that it might leave the young people more vulnerable.

Mr Pollock said he was recently at the school helping with dummy interviews when he heard the news.

“I was told that five pupils had been permanently excluded for drug offences,” said Coun Pollock.

“This left me concerned that Tenbury is part of this drug sub-culture, but also wondering what had happened to those excluded pupils.

“While the punishment seemed appropriate, it might also have resulted in them getting more deeply involved in illegality, to no-one’s benefit.”

But Coun Pollock said he had received some reassurance after speaking to Vicki Dean, the principal at Tenbury High School Ormiston Academy.

“I am reassured that all the five pupils are in appropriate places and not being neglected, where they may get into more trouble,” said Coun Pollock.

He added that although he had been told by people that there is a drugs problem in and around the town, he had not been told that it was specific to the school.

Coun Pollock said he was impressed by what he had seen when he visited the school recently to take part in a mock interview exercise with students.

The school had some problems a few years ago and was put into special measures, but has seen very good results in recent years with students making good progress.

The school plays an active role in the life of the town, with the head boy and head girl taking on the roles of the Mistletoe Queen and Holly Prince at the Mistletoe Festival.

There has been growing concern about the problems of drugs in rural areas, with young people falling victims of so-called county lines gangs.

Paddy Brennan, who founded the Tenbury Boxing Club, now works with young people from other parts of Worcestershire that have been excluded from mainstream schools.

“The majority of 12 to 16-year-old kids we have coming to our centre have either taken drugs or have been involved in gangs where they have had to sell them,” said Mr Brennan.

“Many vulnerable children are being treated as criminals and excluded from school when, in fact, they should be treated as victims.

“The reality is that if you put vulnerable people outside the mainstream school system you are likely to make them more vulnerable still. There are young people who are being failed by the system. Schools need to think creatively and address underlying issues rather than immediately exclude children.”