4. Searches

Searches without your child’s consent

The school doesn’t need your child’s consent to search them if they think your child has prohibited items, including:

  • weapons, eg knives
  • alcohol
  • illegal drugs
  • stolen goods
  • tobacco products, eg cigarettes
  • pornographic images (of any kind, eg tabloid topless pictures and ‘lads’ mags’ as well as extreme adult material)
  • fireworks
  • anything that has been, or is likely to be, used to cause injury or commit an offence
  • anything banned in the school rules

These things can be confiscated.

Legal requirements of a search

There should normally be 2 members of staff present during the search - the person doing the search and the search witness. Searches should normally be done by someone the same sex as your child.

The search witness must also be the same sex as your child if possible. Your child must not be asked to remove clothes, other than outer clothing like a coat.

If there’s a risk of serious harm to a person if the search is not conducted immediately, a child may be searched by a person of the opposite sex and without another member of staff present.

Metal detectors

Schools can make pupils go through a metal detector - they don’t have to suspect that your child has a weapon. If your child refuses to go through the metal detector, they can be stopped from coming into school.

Complaining about a search

If you’re unhappy with a search on your child at school, talk to the headteacher. If you’re not satisfied, ask for a copy of the complaints procedure.