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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Security searches at school

School staff can search your child for any item with their consent. Head teachers and authorised members of staff have the power to search your child without their consent for certain items specified by law. If they don't have your child's consent, there are certain rules that they have to follow if they carry out a search. Find out what they are.

Searching your child with their consent

School staff can search your child for any item if your child agrees. This could include things like MP3 players, mobile phones and chewing gum. Staff can also confiscate these items if it is reasonable to do so.

Searching your child without their consent

Headteachers and school staff authorised by them are allowed to search your child or their possessions without their consent. This is only the case if a member of staff reasonably suspects that your child is carrying certain prohibited items.

The items that can be searched for without your child’s consent are:

  • knives or weapons
  • alcohol
  • illegal drugs
  • stolen items
  • tobacco and cigarette papers
  • pornographic images
  • fireworks
  • any item that has been, or is likely to be, used to cause injury, damage to property or commit an offence
  • any item banned in the school rules and identified in the rules as an item which will be searched for

School staff can confiscate and dispose of any of these items found as a result of a search in accordance with the law.

Legal requirements for searching without consent

Any teacher wanting to carry out a search on your child without their consent must follow the relevant legal requirements. These requirements are that:

  • there must be two members of staff present at all times during the search
  • all searches must be carried out by a staff member who is the same sex as your child
  • the witness to the search must also be the same sex as your child where possible
  • however, in limited circumstances where there is a risk of serious harm to a person if the search is not conducted immediately your child may be searched by a person of the opposite sex and without another member of staff present
  • your child must not be asked to remove clothes, other than items of outer clothing like their coat or jacket

Metal detectors

As well as their search powers, teachers can screen your child for weapons using devices such as arches and 'wand' metal detectors. If your child refuses to be searched or screened, they can be stopped from entering the school building.

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