Searching, screening and confiscation in schools

Guidance explaining the powers schools have to screen and search pupils, and to confiscate items they find.

Applies to England



This guidance is for:

  • school leaders
  • school staff
  • governing bodies
  • local authorities

It applies to:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies and free schools
  • pupil referral units
  • non-maintained special schools

It covers:

  • how to safely search or screen children in schools
  • the prohibited items schools can search for
  • schools’ powers to confiscate items found during searches

Guidance on behaviour in schools and keeping children safe in education is also available.

Updates to this page

Published 14 February 2014
Last updated 19 July 2023 + show all updates
  1. Removed references to guidance that has since been updated.

  2. Updated 'Searching, screening and confiscation: advice for schools' guidance and added further resources.

  3. Updated the advice to reflect changes made in the preventing and tackling bullying advice.

  4. Added link on p.13 to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety’s advice on responding to ‘Sexting in schools and colleges’.

  5. First published.

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