Searching, screening and confiscation at school

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

Applies to England



‘Searching, screening and confiscation: advice for schools 2022’ is for information only and does not come into force until 1 September 2022.

Schools and colleges must continue to use ‘Searching, screening and confiscation: advice for schools 2018’ until then.

This is for:

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

It applies to:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies and free schools
  • pupil referral units (these provide education for children who can’t go to a mainstream school)
  • non-maintained special schools (for children with special educational needs that the Secretary of State for Education has approved under section 342 of the Education Act 1996)

The guidance covers:

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

Further guidance and resources

Published 14 February 2014
Last updated 13 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'Searching, screening and confiscation: advice for schools' guidance and added further resources.

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

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

  4. First published.