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Pupil search plan FEARS

PUBLISHED: 16:25 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 August 2010

AN education expert claims government plans to give teachers the power to search students will put them in a vulnerable position. Government behaviour advisor Sir Alan Steer this week revealed proposals to extend teachers legal rights to search. It wil

AN education expert claims government plans to give teachers the power to search students will put them in a vulnerable position.

Government behaviour advisor Sir Alan Steer this week revealed proposals to extend teachers' legal rights to search.

It will allow them to search students for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and stolen property, not just dangerous weapons as the law currently stands.

Sir Steer says the proposals will help to improve discipline. However, critics say matters such as drugs use and underage drinking are best left for the police.

Brian Chadwick, secretary of Gravesham Teacher's Association, said: "I really don't believe teachers would welcome this. It's an issue that ought to be dealt with by the police.

"I think teachers are happy that where they have concerns, such as knife or drugs or alcohol, measures are already in place to contact the authorities and deal with these problems."

Last year the government passed legislation giving schools the right to search for knives and dangerous weapons. It also allows the screening of pupils for weapons using metal detectors.

The call for wider powers to search pupils is a response to the concerns of headteachers about the use of alcohol and illegal drugs in schools.

Children's secretary Ed Balls said: "I want to build on the powers we have already given teachers on searching for weapons by extending these to cover drugs, alcohol and other inappropriate items.

"It will ensure that everyone knows that a teacher's authority in the classroom is unquestionable and teachers are clear about their right to use them."

There are also concerns the proposals could lead to accusations of assault and even physical confrontations between students and teachers.

Mr Chadwick said: "In a situation like this the pupils being searched are likely to be among the worst behaved and maybe likely to make formal complaints that they have been assaulted by members of staff."

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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