The policy that will be analysed is the Western Australian Duty of Care for Students policy from the Department of Education. “Duty of care is a legal concept that has its origins in the common law. The common law is a collection of legal principles that have been established over time by the courts. The duty of care principle not only underpins, but to a large extent drives most school policies and practices”. (Western Australian Department of Education, 2007, 2.1) (WADoE)
The purpose of this report is to examine the policy and show the apparent need for such policies. There will be three scenarios used to give examples of how the policy is relevant and how it should be implemented in regards to local primary schools. The first scenario is in regard to students who arrive early on school grounds. The second scenario tells of a teacher who privately recruits students for a sports team, using the school colours and name. The third scenario shows an inexperienced student teacher who is asked to watch a class with disruptive students.
A policy is a statement of intent that aims to promote all who are subject to the policy perform in a consistent way that meets the standard in which the policy is intended. In the Western Australian Duty of Care for Students policy this applies to teaching staff, non-teaching staff, external providers and volunteers. The fundamental reason for writing the policy is for the safety and welfare of students in our schools. Without such a policy, teachers will be acting based on their own decision making regarding what is right and wrong. Not all teachers would have the same approach in doing so, leaving schools and/or teachers finding themselves in legal situations caused by failing to uphold their duty of care. It is important that all schools and teachers understand and implement the Duty of Care for Students policy for such reasons.
The said policy helps to give a clear understanding of what duty of care means, what it is to carry out duty of care, when duty of care is applicable and who is liable within the policy’s conditions, if the conditions are not met.
The following topics are covered in the policy to help gain an understanding of duty of care;
1. Reasonable care - A duty to take appropriate care to avoid harm being suffered. When implementing duty of care a number of elements will come into play such as students age, experience, capabilities, physical and intellectual impairment, medical conditions, behavioural characteristics, type of school activity and environment in which an activity is performed. (WADoE, 2007, 3.1) 2. Assessing risks - It is important to exercise professional judgement to ensure the balance between learning and avoiding harm from potential risk. When assessing risk you must take into account the likelihood of such risk, size of risk and what would need to be done to remove the risk. (WADoE, 2007, 3.2) 3. Teaching staff - A duty of care is automatically presumed out of the teacher-student relationship. A duty of care should be exercised when a student is on school grounds or is attending an activity in relationship to their school. Even if the student does not attend the same school as the teaching staff and the students are put in their care, they will still owe a duty of care example, Cross county finals. Teachers have a duty to provide suitable supervision, taking action against bullying, seeking medical help when needed, safety on school premises/grounds and using school equipment. (WADoE, 2007, 3.3) 4. Non-teaching staff, volunteers, external providers and the discharge of duty of care - External providers, non-teaching staff and volunteers are not subject to the same duty of care unless a member of teaching staff has requested them to do so and the request is accepted. Teaching staff must give the person an opportunity to refuse a...