Welcome to another week.
The government is giving schools almost unfettered rights to search school pupils without consent, after it updated guidelines last week to reflect the move.
The changes allow school staff to search without consent for “any item banned by the school rules which has been identified in the rules as an item which may be searched for.” We tried to find this guidance online, but could not spot it.
The guidance was exposed in a Schools Week article on 19th January, which focused on the issue of energy soft drinks as a child protection issue, after schools around the country had imposed bans on the drinks on school property, with some searching students’ bags in order to enforce the policy.
The article comes after a public health nutritionist, government behaviour tsar and celebrity chef expressed concerns about the way these drinks affect children’s behaviour and health, and have called on the government to make it illegal to sell energy drinks to anyone under the age of 16.
Parents have reacted angrily to the new search policy, whilst schools have defended the move, saying that they have a right to confiscate anything they deem contraband.
The search policy, and the idea that energy drinks are a child protection issue raise several important questions:
- Is the current search and seize guideline within the law?
- What can schools constitute as ‘banned items’ and are there any human rights concerns surrounding this discretion?
- Will banning energy drinks in schools and making it illegal to sell them to anyone under the age of 16 be effective ways to encourage positive eating habits?
- Should the government ever be allowed to try to socially engineer food choices?
Our question this week then, is just this: what do you think?