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Pupils’ property going missing: schools hotline FAQs

Practical Law Public Sector addresses the questions that schools may ask local authorities regarding day-to-day school management and sets out the legal issues to consider when responding:

This FAQ looks at schools’ responsibility when pupils’ valuables go missing at school. For details of all our school hotline queries, please see Practice note, Schools hotline FAQs.

Q: Pupils regularly bring mobile phones and other expensive items into school. Recently a pupil brought in an iPod that went missing. His parents say the school should replace it. What is the school’s responsibility for such items?

A: Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 states that where a teacher disciplines a pupil by confiscating an item he will not be liable for any loss or damage to that item, provided the disciplinary penalty was lawful (that is, reasonable, proportionate and imposed by an authorised person and not in breach of any statutory requirement or prohibition). There is no statutory liability on schools for items that go missing in other ways.

The school should publicise its policy on valuable items such as mobile phones and iPods and make it clear that pupils bring them into school at their own risk. When school staff confiscate such items they should however take reasonable steps to ensure their safety, such as storing them in lockers in the staff room.

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