Top private school expels four teenage boys caught with cannabis

FOUR pupils have been expelled from one of Scotland's most prestigious schools after smoking cannabis in the grounds.

• Principal David Gray, pictured at the school's entrance, said the boys were seen in the grounds sharing cannabis Picture: David Moir

The 15-year-old boys were spotted at Stewart's Melville College in Edinburgh and spoken to by staff about the incident, which took place at the end of August.

Staff investigations then discovered that the boys had been smoking the drug during the school holidays.

The teenagers were suspended from classes until their parents could be spoken to.

At those meetings, the parents decided to withdraw the pupils from the school on the advice of the headmaster.

The incident has been reported to the police by the school. The boys have not been arrested, but police are understood to be investigating how they received the drugs.

David Gray, Stewart's Melville College principal, said: "They were seen in the school grounds sharing cannabis, which was then reported to my colleagues,who investigated.

"Naturally enough, they looked at the CCTV, which was there for security purposes.

Mr Gray added: "If they choose to indulge in that way, then they are making a choice which is entirely contrary to our values, the healthy lifestyle we promote and the high expectations we have of them.

"That's why they can't remain. It should be clear the school won't tolerate this kind of activity."

He said he didn't believe the move was a "severe penalty".

In a letter to parents explaining the decision to remove the boys from school, he said: "It is true that in Edinburgh, as in any other big city, there are dangers and temptations for all adolescents and it is important that school and parents, in their own roles, work to ensure that the children in our care do not succumb to the temptation to become involved in activities which are dangerous to their health and induce a lifestyle totally contrary to the one we would wish them to choose."

He added: "I know, as a parent myself, the difficulty of striking a balance with adolescent children between allowing freedom and imposing what can sometimes be seen as unreasonable constraints."

It is understood there were no previous issues surrounding the boys concerned.

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police are investigating after youths were found in possession of cannabis in Edinburgh.

"Inquiries are under way to determine where the cannabis was bought from.

"Lothian and Borders Police are committed to removing drugs from our communities and would urge anyone with information that can assist with this investigation to contact police immediately."

It is not the first time that pupils at some of Scotland's most prestigious schools have been caught drug-taking.

Two years ago, 12 pupils were disciplined in a drug crackdown at Gordonstoun, the 24,000-a-year public school whose former pupils include the Prince of Wales.

One pupil was expelled for taking cannabis and 11 were suspended after the school, in the north-east of Scotland, carried out an investigation.

High-achievers who are 'never unprepared'

STEWART's Melville is a high-achieving independent school in Edinburgh.

This year it has 760 pupils at the boys' secondary schools, which educates children aged 12-18.

The overwhelming majority are day pupils, with no more than 20 boarding.

Fees for this year are 8,916 a year, but means-tested bursaries are available for up to 100 per cent of the cost.

The uniform is black with red-edged blazers, a white shirt and red tie.

The school's motto is: "Never unprepared".

Stewart's Melville is part of a three-school group, which includes The Mary Erskine School for Girls and the Junior School.

In The Scotsman's exam league tables this year, Stewart's Melville came fifth in Higher passes, with 94.3 per cent of pupils gaining a pass.

In Advanced Highers, the school saw 89.4 per cent of candidates passing.

Notable former pupils include Scotland rugby internationalists, twins Finlay and Jim Calder and Doddie Weir, as well as professional racing driver Dario Franchitti, the winner of the world-famous Indianapolis 500 race.