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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Learning unit 'lets pupils smoke'
Teenagers smoking
Education Leeds said it did not condone smoking among pupils
A city learning centre has taken a "special approach to a very serious problem" by allowing pupils to smoke between lessons, it has emerged.

Students at Tinshill Learning Centre in Leeds can smoke in an outdoor facility during breaks, as long as they have parental permission.

Education Leeds said the new policy aimed to help pupils stop smoking and reduce confrontations with teachers.

But a teachers' union said it could put the health of its members at risk.

Parents received a letter at the beginning of term outlining the new policy.

'Trial arrangement'

The centre caters for 120 boys and girls aged between 14 to 16 who have been expelled from previous schools.

A spokesman for Education Leeds said around 10 pupils had so far received permission to smoke.

He said: "Unfortunately a number of young people who attend Tinshill Learning Centre do smoke, and sometimes we have to take a special approach to a very serious problem.

"We have introduced this trial arrangement to help them move from their dangerous habit towards a smoking cessation programme.

"This follows guidance from health professionals by bringing the problem out into the open, informing parents and carers of their child's habit."

Teachers 'at risk'

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it did not condone the arrangement and would call for it to be stopped if teachers complained.

Tim Hales, assistant secretary of Leeds NUT, said: "I can understand there may be reasons why the school takes this course of action to reduce the amount of confrontation between staff and pupils who feel they need to have a cigarette.

"But it seems a strange way of dealing with this issue and we cannot support it.

"There are a number of health and safety issues. Our members are put at risk of smoke inhalation."


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