Education and Inspections Act 2006

... is this oppressive piece of legislation a move towards even greater control of the population?

What's so bad about the Education and Inspections Act 2006?

Under this oppressive legislation, teachers now have a statutory right to discipline school children, confiscate their property and search them for weapons, ie they are legally empowered to police our children.

The disciplinary provisions in the Education and Inspections Act were fully implemented in October 2007. Did you hear about this? No, neither did I.

You should definitely read the full DfES Guidance Notes on the Education and Inspections Act 2006 - ).

All of the following is from a summary of the DfES Guidance Notes - with my emphasis in bold.


New guidance has been published electronically by the DfES supporting the implementation of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 provisions relating to school discipline policies and pupil behaviour. Part 2 of the guidance is essential reading for governors and headteachers regarding their statutory duties. Part 3 contains detailed advice for all members of the school workforce regarding their statutory powers to discipline pupils which the Act clarified or newly introduced. It includes advice about headteachers' powers to search pupils for weapons, which is a new provision effective from May 2007 established by the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 amending and extending the Education Act 1996.

This summary focuses on key points in Part 3 of the guidance: the non-statutory guidance for headteachers and other school staff relating to specific disciplinary procedures and powers. While the guidance aims to help schools understand their overall legal powers and duties it makes clear at the very start that it does not offer a definitive interpretation of the law, which is a matter for the courts. This is particularly important where the law refers to what is 'reasonable' in given circumstances, which remains undefined though indicative examples are provided for guidance.


The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006) changes the legal basis of teachers' and other school staff's authority to discipline pupils. It provides for the first time a statutory power for teachers and certain other school staff to discipline pupils, replacing and superseding the previous legal authority based on the common law principle of the teacher being in loco parentis (in place of the parent).


The power to discipline is applicable to any pupil at a school where education is provided for them, and also to misbehaviour by pupils outside school premises when they are not in the lawful control or charge of a member of staff, so far as this is reasonable (see Section 3 below).

All staff need to be aware of authorisation levels and should be clear about those sanctions they can apply and those which may only be applied by more senior staff. Temporary staff, student teachers and volunteers (providing, for example, help with educational visits or mentoring support) should be informed of the levels of sanctions they can apply.



Under the common law, the extent of schools' power to regulate the conduct of pupils at times when they are not on the premises of the school and not under the lawful control or charge of a member of staff was not fully clear. The EIA 2006 gives headteachers a specific statutory power to regulate pupils' behaviour in these circumstances 'to such extent as is reasonable'.

School policies should set expectations for positive behaviour off the school site. This includes behaviour on activities arranged by the school, such as work experience placements, educational visits and sporting events; behaviour on the way to and from school; and behaviour when wearing school uniform (if any) in a public place. The guidance offers a number of factors which schools could consider in deciding what is 'reasonable'. However, sanctions or punishments issued can only be applied when pupils are on the school site or under the lawful control or charge of a member of staff. This means, for example, that a sanction can be applied while a pupil is on a school trip, but not while a pupil is travelling between home and school (but misbehaviour in this case can be subject to disciplinary action in school).

Schools are recommended to establish ways of communicating with parents and others outside school such as shopkeepers, the police, street wardens etc. about the standards expected and how out-of-school misconduct can be reported to the school. This section of the guidance includes advice relating to the abuse or intimidation of school staff outside school.



The guidance points out that the headteacher's legal duties with regard to determining the school behaviour policy include a duty to determine measures aimed to encourage good behaviour and respect. This section outlines a range of steps that can be taken to recognise and celebrate positive behaviour, and to reinforce good behaviour and positive practice among pupils in policies targeting behaviour in particular areas such as prejudice-driven bullying.



EIA 2006 confirms and clarifies the right of the school to impose disciplinary sanctions on a pupil when their conduct falls below the standard which could reasonably be expected of them. Any lawful use of sanctions must be reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances of the case. In particular, the Act requires that account be taken of the pupil's age, any special educational needs, any disability and any religious requirements affecting the pupil (see section 9 of this summary).

Schools are recommended to develop through formal discussion and staff training agreement about scales of severity from low-level to serious misbehaviours, to ensure:

This section of the guidance (3.6) contains extended advice about the range of sanctions and procedures that schools could consider; for example: the use of Pastoral Support Programmes identifying precise and realistic targets for a pupil to work towards; the need to document and monitor the sanctions used as a safeguard against legal challenge. It reminds schools that corporal punishment is unlawful (including the use of force in order to punish).



Section 3.7 of the guidance provides detailed and comprehensive information about what the law now provides for and the factors and considerations that schools need to accommodate in their detention procedures. This includes, for example, what to do if a pupil walks out of a detention.

In the case of weekend detentions, EIA 2006 strengthens schools' disciplinary authority by removing the previous requirement to obtain parental consent. Schools now have the power, if they wish, to require pupils to attend detentions on such days as are permitted by the Act and related Regulations.



The issue of confiscation has for long been highly problematic. EIA 2006 confirms confiscation as a legitimate action, but still places on teachers a responsibility to demonstrate its justification, if required. The guidance indicates that teachers have authority to confiscate property 'in pursuance of a legitimate aim', defined by the guidance as generally 'maintaining an environment conducive to learning which safeguards the rights of other pupils to be educated'. The guidance says, importantly: 'It is for the staff member confiscating to show the legality of the confiscation since he or she has made the decision to interfere with the property. If authority can be shown, the staff member has a defence to all proceedings against him or her and is not liable for any damage or loss arising.' [AG - Note this - it means that, if a teacher loses something he has confiscated from your son or daughter, he is not liable for it's loss, because he had "authority" over the child and, therefore, had a legal right to confiscate the property.]

Schools should also note that, while confiscation of a mobile phone is legitimate, searching through a phone or accessing text messages without the pupil's permission is not. In some circumstances it may be reasonable for a member of staff to ask a pupil to reveal a message for the purpose of establishing whether cyberbullying has occurred, for instance, but if the pupil refuses then the member of staff should not enforce the instruction. The staff member can, however, legitimately issue a disciplinary penalty for failure to follow a reasonable instruction. [AG - ie, if the child refuses to hand over their phone, they can be "disciplined" for that refusal]


Paragraphs 3.8.4 3.8.5 of the guidance briefly cover the basic powers of certain school staff to search suspected pupils for knives or other weapons without consent. This power to search derives from the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, which added new provisions to the Education Act 1996. It only relates to weapons and does not extend to searches for other material such as illegal drugs or stolen property, searches for which should only be done by the police.

Comments by official organisations on the Education and Inspections Act 2006

"In autumn 2005 the Government published the Schools White Paper, 'Higher Standards, Better Schools for All'. The Education and Inspections Act put in place legislation for many of these proposals, and for some extra measures not included in the original white paper

"The act received royal assent in November 2006."
(Improvement and Development Agency - )

"The Education and Inspections Act represents a major step forward in the Government's aim of ensuring that every child in every school in every community gets the education they need to enable them to fulfil their potential.

"The Act gives local authorities an enhanced strategic role as champion of pupils and parents ... The Act will create a power for staff to discipline pupils ..."
(teachernet - )

"The Education and Inspections Act 2006 gives local authorities a new strategic role as champion of parents and children"
(National Foundation for Educational Research -

Education and Inspections Act 2006 - Regulating our children's behaviour

"This key focus [of the The Education and Inspections Act 2006] means there are new proposals on behaviour policies. There are also new powers to discipline, and for the use of force and confiscation."
(Improvement and Development Agency -

Education and Inspections Act 2006 - Resources

See this 'Brief Guide' to the Education and Inspections Act 2006 -

and, you should particularly read -
Full DfES Guidance Notes on the Education and Inspections Act 2006 -

or, as normal web pages -

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What's so bad about the Education and Inspections Act 2006?