Teachers to frisk students

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The Independent Online

Teachers are to be given the authority to search pupils for drink, drugs, cigarettes and stolen property. Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, will give the go-ahead for a sweeping extension of teachers' existing powers to search teenagers for weapons.

In a report today Sir Alan Steer, the Government's behaviour adviser, dismisses suggestions that the conduct of children is worsening. But he calls for urgent action to tackle the problem of youngsters smuggling drink on to school premises.

Mr Balls confirmed last night the Government would legislate to give school staff stronger powers to check for illicit materials. He said: "We need to ensure schools have the powers and support they need to maintain good behaviour and stop drugs and alcohol use entering school. It will ensure that everyone knows a teacher's authority in the classroom is unquestionable."

Sir Alan, the head of Seven Kings High School, Ilford, east London, also calls for new technology to be used to warn parents about misbehaviour or truanting by their children.

He suggested parents could be alerted via email or text messages to poor conduct or punctuality, enabling them to intervene earlier. Sir Alan urges schools to forge closer links with police to tackle problems such as drug abuse and is preparing fresh recommendations for improving the training of teachers to deal with bad behaviour.

He said: "I remain extremely optimistic about the situation in schools. There will always be problems but these should not be exaggerated. The vast majority of young people are as idealistic and enthusiastic as ever and standards of behaviour in schools are generally good. Most parents are responsible and caring."