Wednesday 21 May 2014

Surrender and Retention of Items, and Searches

New guidelines have been issued under section 139AAI of the Education Act 1989. They provide advice about the new legislation relating to searches and confiscation (now known as surrender and retention) of property in schools. They explain the legislation (Sections 139AAA – 139AAI of the Education Act 1989) and the associated Rules.

“I’m a writer, not a teacher,” Michael Jackson once famously emoted to Paul McCartney. Oh okay, it might’ve been lover and fighter but let’s not quibble, the fact is that it’s a good thing I’m a writer, not a teacher.

I couldn’t give up the menacing and powerful word CONFISCATION for the limper Retention.

“Megan! Put that away NOW or it will be CONFISCATED!”  So terrifying; the unknown – what does it mean? Will I get it back in time to return it to my older brother’s room from whence it came in a “borrowed without permission” sort of arrangement? Will I ever get it back?

“Megan! Put that away or I might have to retain it.” Snigger. The mental imagery would be too much for my overactive and immature imagination. Although, on the other hand, SURRENDER really appeals.

“Put that away or I will require you to surrender it.” My heart would swell in zealotic fervour. “Never! You can put me on the second step, threaten me with a phone call to my mother, make me pick up litter, but I shall never surrender!”

But seriously, terminology aside, the issue of surrender and retention of items, and searches, is a complicated one. Schools need to become familiar with the legislation and guidelines, and their school’s procedures for dealing with serious infringements and for conducting searches. 

As with any behaviour management issues, students need to know what is acceptable, and what the consequences are for the unacceptable… Teachers use their judgement and their experience to manage behaviour and have the back up of a formal behaviour management plan, and the surrender and retention of items and search policy to use as necessary.

The board must authorise any non teaching staff to request surrender and retention, and if appropriate, to conduct searches. Teachers are automatically authorised, but we encourage boards to minute board agreement to authorise all teachers, also to authorise (and minute) all support staff. All staff must be briefed on the updated guidelines.

Authorisation must be given in writing, and acknowledged in writing. We have put a sample authorisation letter on the Demo site that we encourage boards to adapt and use.

For details, read the SchoolDocs topics and the Ministry guidelines (there’s a link to them in the SchoolDocs topic. Handy.)

And seriously, if you have to relieve a student of their prohibited bottle of soft drink, will it be fluid retention? If a student has to take an item home and never bring it to school again, will that be home retention? If you have to swing out the behaviour management plan after a surrender event, will that be a retention detention? If a teacher invokes the procedure too frequently, will they be on a surrender bender? I could go on, but I’m not allowed. I will employ some retention prevention and get off the blog now.


Unknown said...

Ah-ha! So that's where my sliderule went!

What were you doing with it when it was contained and refiscated?!


Unknown said...

Those Dream Works cards have been causing upset at my children's school recently, though I don't know if any have been surrendered yet! It's handy to know that non-teaching staff have to be specifically authorised - the sample letter on your Demo site will come in useful, I'm sure (and great not to have to pay a legal eagle to write one for the school).