Website Cookie Policy

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. If you continue, we’ll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website.
See our cookie policy for more information.

Practice Areas

More Information

Leeds: 0113 244 6100

Sheffield: 0114 267 5588


School bans sausage rolls

September 2017

Can schools decide what pupils can eat while at school?

Once again healthy eating in schools is in the spotlight, this time with news that a school in Bradford has banned and confiscated sausage rolls, pork pies and flavoured drinks from the packed lunches of its pupils. This type of story has been a recurring theme ever since Jamie Oliver's well known drive to improve the health of our nation's children as schools try to implement healthy eating policies.

LA maintained schools and most academies are required by law to follow the government's published standards for school meals, however these do not apply to packed lunches. Schools are free to create their own policies in relation to packed lunches.  Where any such policy is to be put in place, parents should be consulted on proposals in advance. Pupils and parents should be made fully aware of contents of the policy once adopted. Policies may be aspirational, such as "the school encourages packed lunches to contain…" or may be a strict policy requiring compliance, such as "packed lunches must be…". The policy should include details covering if and how the policy will be enforced.

Schools in England have some limited powers to search pupils and their possessions under section 550ZA Education Act 1996. These powers are primarily focussed on searching for illegal or dangerous items. However, they also cover items banned in the school's published behaviour policy. If items of food/drink are banned in the school's behaviour policy and it is published in accordance with s.89 Education and Inspections Act 2006 then it may be possible to use these powers to search pupils for food/drink. Under these powers, schools could confiscate items of food prohibited by school rules and it would be up to the school to decide whether to keep, dispose, or return the item to the pupil. If these powers do not apply then a search could only be with the pupil's consent and it is doubtful whether the school would lawfully be able to confiscate the item (permanently or temporarily). 

Any search of a pupil must be done strictly within the limits of s.550ZB, which include:

A)     The search must be conducted by the headteacher or someone authorised by the headteacher.

B)      They must be accompanied by a second person (unless there is an urgent risk of serious harm).

C)      The person must be of the same gender as the pupil (unless there is an urgent risk of serious harm).

D)     The search can require taking off outer items of clothes (such as a jacket) but no more.

E)      Possessions such as bags or lunchboxes can only be searched in the pupil's presence and as above.

This is a controversial area and we would recommend you seek specialist advice before implementing or policing a policy in this way. Remember also that the school's reputation with parents and the community is vital. There are pros and cons of a strict policy in relation to packed lunches, despite best intentions of promoting healthy eating. 


If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Tim Wrigley or any other member of the Education team on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys Schools team on Twitter here

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors


For more information about academisation download our podcasts

Nick Dunn View Biography

Nick Dunn

Trainee Solicitor

Tim Wrigley View Biography

Tim Wrigley


Review of Paying for Residential Care: A Guide for Private Client Practitioners (Third Edition): Austin Thornton

Published by ARK Group £345.00 Review by Caroline Bielanska, TEP, Solicitor, Independent Consultant, trainer and author

Click here to view more

Abolition of event fees

What could this mean for co-housing & community-led housing?

Click here to view more

Property fraud: Taking steps to help safeguard against forgery

In this article we look at what action can be taken to specifically safeguard against forgery of documents relating to ownership of your property.

Click here to view more

Employment Breakfast Briefing: Redundancy Handling: A practical guide - 17 April 2018

Date: 17 Apr 2018

Venue: Radisson Blu, Leeds

Further information


Date: 25 Apr 2018


Further information and booking

Employment Law Update for Charities 2018

Date: 26 Jun 2018

Venue: Hilton Leeds City, Neville Street, Leeds

Further information

Mailing list

Receive the latest news, events and updates from Wrigleys:

Follow Wrigleys: