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Note: Separate, additional Departmental advice is available on searching and confiscations in this section of the website: Screening, searching and confiscation; advice for headteachers, staff and governing bodies.
Following a search, whether or not anything is found, the school is advised to make a record of the person searched, the reason for the search, the time and the place, who was present and note the outcomes and any follow-up action. There is no legal requirement to do this.
Schools’ general power to discipline, as set out in Section 91 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, enables a member of staff to confiscate, retain or dispose of a pupil’s property as a disciplinary penalty, where reasonable to do so.
Where the person finds other substances which are not believed to be controlled drugs these can be confiscated where a teacher believes them to be harmful or detrimental to good order and discipline. This would include new psychoactive substances or ‘legal highs’. If school staff are unable to identify the legal status of a drug, it should be treated as a controlled drug.
Schools are not required to inform parents before a search takes place or to seek their consent to search their child. There is no legal requirement to make or keep a record of a search.
Schools would normally inform the individual pupil’s parents or guardians where alcohol, illegal drugs or potentially harmful substances are found, though there is no legal requirement to do so.
Complaints about searching should be dealt with through the normal school complaints procedure.
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Advice on schools’ powers to screen and search pupils.