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BBC Talks To Baxter School

The media’s focus on vaping continues with Rachel Burden and Rick Edwards discussing electronic cigarettes with students and staff at Baxter College in Kidderminster

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The media’s focus on vaping continues with BBC 5Live’s Rachel Burden and Rick Edwards discussing electronic cigarettes with students and staff at Baxter College in Kidderminster. The school has spent £4,000 of its budget to install sensors in the student toilets because “the issue of underage vaping is vexing head teachers around the country,” according to Rachel Burden.

Rachel Burden spoke to a student who didn’t think the vape sensors would actually work.

I got caught,” he said, “it got taken off me and got put in inclusion. Got a B4, and that’s it.”

A B4 is an hour and a half detention on Fridays after school.

Does it help deter you,” Rachel Burden asked. “At least from vaping in school?”

“[Laughing] Well, err, yeh. I don’t do it as much in school now.”

The 5Live show stated that the head of the school was taking a health-centred approach to the school’s vaping problems, approaching it not as a disciplinary issue but as one of student wellbeing, addressing the issue with students and parents as a health matter.

The school’s head teacher said: "When we were doing student surveys a lot of our younger students were saying they didn't like to go into the toilets because students were going in there to vape, and it was making them feel uncomfortable.

"Vaping's an issue nationally. I think a lot of schools are talking about what an issue it is in their toilets. There's a lot of interest. [The sensors] aren't cheap, but they make a big difference, so there's a few [head teachers] coming out to see how we've implemented it.

"We log every time a child goes to the toilet and we have seen a decrease so pupils are more focused on their learning, which is what they're here to do."

Introducing the final segment of the breakfast show, Rachel Burden spoke about vaping having “an impact on [student] behaviour and their learning environment”.

It’s something we’ve been talking about on 5Live Breakfast for many months now. The issue is not anti-vaping itself, because we know vapes are a really valuable tool for people giving up smoking. However, what’s happened over the last couple of years is the explosion of the use of disposable vapes – particularly among young people. They’re really easy to get hold of, really easy to hide, and we’re hearing from pupils all around the country of very high rates of vaping in school and out.”

The alarm itself is a cylindrical box placed on the ceiling that detects vapes, loud noises, deodorants, THC, and if someone is attempting to tamper with the detector.

It’s had a huge impact and I wish I’d had all the toilets done at once,” said the head teacher. “In terms of how much they cost compared to how much better the toilets are as a result, they’ve had a huge impact on the toilets being a nicer, safer place to go.”

Initially the system was operated without the students knowing, and no follow up made. They received 14 to 15 alerts a day. Some might say this is minute in relation to the numbers of students on site.

Now they have one alert a week. “I think they might be vaping in other spaces,” the head added.

The company that installed the Halo Smart Sensors said that schools ought to use them in conjunction with CCTV cameras near the toilets and “a wand-style metal detector to support checking coats and bags”.


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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