Can a teacher search my belongings in school?

Learn more about your right to privacy in secondary school in Ireland

Written by Children's Rights Alliance


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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

In secondary school in Ireland, you have certain rights when it comes to your personal belongings, your body, your personal space and private life. Certain rules may vary from school to school, depending on the code of behaviour that is in place. 

Do I have a right to privacy in school? 

Privacy in school means attending school without any interference by the school in:

  •  your private life
  •  your personal space
  • your body
  • your belongings

There are some situations where a school can interfere with your privacy. For example, a teacher can search your bag if they believe that you are carrying illegal substances or alcohol. However, both you and your parent or guardian must agree to this.

Your parent or guardian must also be present if a teacher wants to search you, for example, to check what is in your pockets.

Can a teacher search my locker in school?

Your locker is school property, but you are entitled to privacy while the locker is assigned to you during the school year. A teacher may search your locker, but only if they have a good reason for doing so. The teacher should tell you why they are searching your locker.

Does my parent have a right to know how I am doing at school?

Yes, your parents or guardian have a right to be kept informed about your education and behaviour in school. This is usually done through school reports, which parents receive once a year, and through parent-teacher meetings or through online systems where parents can log on and see how their child is doing.

Do I have a right to see my school records?

Not until you reach 18 years of age. This is when the school has to make school records available to you if you ask for them. If you are under 18, your parent or guardian can access school records on your behalf.

Can my teacher look through my phone?

Your school’s code of behaviour will state if you are allowed a mobile phone in school and what will happen if you have one with you. If it is against the school rules to use a phone in school, teachers will often be permitted to confiscate it. Your teacher should not look through your phone without you and your parent or guardian’s permission.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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