David Smellie: One of the first things that a local authority will think about when considering a child protection issue will be what remit the member of staff was working under at the time. Where a member of school staff is doing something that is in some shape or form inappropriate with the child, and where that goes outwith that individual’s duties, we are obviously slap bang into clear child protection policy.

I can see that there is a tension where a statutory provision allows a teacher of one sex to carry out a search of a pupil of another sex. Equally, one has to accept that given the sorts of things that can go on inside schools—the sorts of child protection issues that can arise among the pupil body itself, with electronic communication implements—there is a real need, actually, for schools to be able sometimes to search a locker or search a pupil, and there may not be an opportunity to stand back. I appreciate that it is a fine balance, but sometimes schools do need to be able to act quite swiftly.

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