There are three times more drug incidents than ones involving alcohol at primary and intermediate schools.

Ministry of Education figures obtained under the Official Information Act reveal that 659 students were involved in drug, booze or smoking incidents in primary and intermediate schools last year, down from 696 in 2009. Some of the children were as young as 7.

Auckland Primary Principals Association president Terry Hewetson said the trend had changed over the years, with children as young as 11 taking drugs to school rather than booze.

Eden Intermediate School had the most students disciplined, with 26. Some of the students were not smoking cannabis but were guilty by association, in line with the schools' bystanders policy.

The principal, Hewetson, said the school's zero-tolerance approach was the main reason for the large number of reported incidents. The 26 students disciplined were from four separate incidents of students smoking cannabis on the way to or from school. All were between 11 and 13.

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In the past five to 10 years drugs had taken the place of alcohol as a mind-altering substance taken to school to show off to friends. Hewetson said most of the children picked up the drugs from their homes.

Napier Intermediate was the next-highest, with 15 students disciplined for a handful of incidents. At Heretaunga Intermediate, principal David Lunny said the 13 students disciplined were from four incidents, one in relation to cigarettes, one for booze and two for drugs.