In his official report, Andrew Lowe calls for a change to the law, so that schools could search pupils without consent – as is the case in England.
However, the EIS teaching union is opposed to such a move – which would “undermine the efforts to forge an open, supportive and inclusive school community”, it says.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan believes that the focus should be on “building positive relationships”, ensuring that students are aware of the dangers associated with carrying weapons and addressing the impact of austerity cuts to support staff.
Meanwhile, School Leaders Scotland says it is unclear how the power to search without consent would change the way such incidents are handled.
If a pupil is unwilling to give their consent to be searched, staff are unlikely to force the issue and would instead call in parents or police – which is exactly what happens currently, says SLS general secretary Jim Thewliss.
But he adds: “We want to engage with this and listen to what is being suggested.”
However, Mr Lowe insists that the right would “send a powerful message” to parents, and children would be less likely to refuse if they knew teachers did not need their consent.
Mr Lowe continues: “Not every school has a police officer on site or nearby and teachers have a duty of care to all pupils. It just strikes me it would be very helpful to have this additional power. It would give them additional authority.”
Heads in England were granted the power to search pupils suspected of having weapons in 2007; in 2010, the power was extended to include drugs, alcohol and stolen goods.
It is a useful power but rarely used, says Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. It is more likely to be used to search for alcohol or drugs, he adds.
“It has avoided conflict with parents and with pupils in terms of whether teachers’ actions are legitimate or not because we have the right to search. But in the case of weapons, usually, unless there is an immediate danger, the matter would be referred to police,” he says.