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Searching, screening and confiscation

Advice for headteachers, school staff and governing bodies

About this departmental advice

This advice is intended to explain schools’ powers of screening and searching pupils so that school staff have the confidence to use them. In particular, it explains the use of the power to search pupils without consent. It also explains the powers schools have to seize and then confiscate items found during a search. It includes statutory guidance which schools must have regard to.

Expiry or review date

This advice will be kept under review and updated as necessary.

Who is this advice for?

This advice is for:
• School leaders and school staff in all schools in England.
• For the purposes of this advice references to “maintained school” means a community, foundation or voluntary school, community or foundation special school. It also means Pupil Referral Units and non-maintained special schools.
• For the purpose of this advice references to “Academy” means Academy schools (including mainstream free schools) and Alternative Provision (AP) Academies (including AP free schools).
• Where particular provisions do not apply to a particular type of school we make this clear.