The Western Australia Department of Education's Duty of Care Policy

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The Western Australian
Duty of care for students policy
Document analysis
The frequently used term for the responsibility for the safety of children at school is duty of care. (Balfour, 2001) The Western Australia Department of Education (WADE) states that department policy requires all teachers to be responsible for the supervision of students in their care, and that teachers must take reasonable care for the safety of their students. To ensure these requirements are met, WADE introduced the Duty of Care policy in 2007 for all state schools. This policy outlines the principles involved in teachers’ Duty of Care and the course of actions to undertake. In Analysing WADE’s Duty of care policy, we can better understand the importance of such a document that outline the procedures necessary to improve the quality of care that teachers provide to students. WADE’s Duty of Care policy was written in June of 2007 for all the department of education employees, by the School Education Act, under the common law of W. A. The policy was implemented in all government schools for the purpose of clarifying what constitutes a teacher’s Duty of Care. It clearly outlines the teachers responsibilities to the students they supervise. In 5.2 of the policy, it states that a duty to take care to reduce the risk of harm to others, has been made compulsory by law. This makes it essential for the teachers of today, to have a policy such as this in place. The Duty of Care policy endeavours to explain in plain English, the meaning of duty of care and how and when, teachers may carry out their duty to students. The policy outlines the procedures that take place during their duty; such topics include what reasonable care constitutes and the varying circumstances that need to be considered. It covers all situations that may arise in regards to the safety of children, by taking into account the diversity of students and looking at age, medical conditions and physical or intellectual impairments. The importance of assessing risk factors such as surrounding environments is made clear in the policy. It also provides details about the responsibilities of volunteers and external staff in regards to their duty of care. The legal requirements for teachers are outlined for various situations, and the legal ramifications and liability in negligence, sums up the policy to make it a complete and necessary document for all teaching staff. As “children stand in need of care and supervision” Scenario 1: (Balfour, 2001 p.1) it is clear to see how significant the policy is, to ensure that the safety and welfare of students is a priority for teachers. The importance and relevance of the policy is demonstrated in the scenarios below.

ACTION PLAN
A student is consistently interrupting other students during a classroom lesson. In dealing with this student’s interruptions, the teacher sends the student out of the classroom for “time out”. The teacher tells the student to wait outside of the classroom door until asked to return to the room. This reprimanded student is not longer in the teachers view. Main Issues:

Issue 1: The student is no longer in the teachers view
As stated in WADE duty of care policy “Teaching staff owe a duty to take reasonable care for the safety and welfare of students” (WADE, 2007 1a p.3) this includes providing adequate supervision to students. When referring to the policy, under the teaching staff section, it clearly outlines that teachers duty of care to students includes the “provision of adequate supervision” (WADE, 2007 3.3 p.5). By sending the student out of the classroom the teacher could no longer adequately supervise him. Due to this, she could also not provide reasonable care for his safety and welfare. Issue 2: The student is put at risk – behavioural concerns Without the appropriate supervision from the teacher this student was put at risk. As part of their duty of care teachers must take reasonable care to avoid harm...
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