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Pupils: Food

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL522, tabled on 16 June 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what powers teachers in the state sector have to inspect children's lunch boxes and to confiscate items that they deem unsuitable.

Answered on

25 June 2015

Governing bodies are responsible for their school meals service including their packed lunch policies and whether to ban certain products to promote healthy eating. If schools wish to adopt such policies, we strongly recommend that they consult parents first and ensure that any adopted policy is clearly communicated to parents and pupils.

Schools have common law powers to search pupils, with their consent, for items. There is nothing to prevent schools from having a policy of inspecting lunch boxes for food items that are prohibited under their school food policies. A member of staff may confiscate, keep or destroy such items found as a result of the search if it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances. It would be good practice for the pupil to be present during an inspection and for a second member of staff to be present if any items are to be confiscated.

If authorities and schools are concerned about their legal position, they should seek their own legal advice.