Why a Primary School Requires a Duty of Care to Protect Its Students

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1Introduction:
The Department of Education in Western Australia follows government policy to ensure all those who are of school age attend school. There is a general duty of care related to common law that the teacher has to do all that is reasonable to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all those who are associated through the teacher/student relationship during the school day, whilst on the school grounds or during school activities/excursions. The purpose of this report is to examine the need and application of the duty of care policy within a primary school environment, using three different scenarios duty of care will be explored.

2Discussion:
The policy
Why write the policy?
Principally the policy covers all aspects of the teacher/student relationship ‘the duty is to take such measures as are reasonable in all the circumstances to protect students from risks of harm that reasonably ought to be foreseen.’ (DETWA, 2007) p3) this statement makes teachers aware of the expectations required of them for the continuing health, safety and welfare of the students. Although the teacher wants the student to achieve the best education available learning responsibility and autonomy amongst other things, they must use their common sense and ‘professional judgment’ (DETWA, 2007) p3) to weigh up the foreseeable risks of personal injury to any student or other person/people. When leaving the class room the teacher must make a judgement on whether the volunteer or non teaching staff member or external provider is trained or experienced enough to ensure the continued duty of care towards the students. ‘this requires not only protection from known hazards, but also from harm that could foreseeably arise and against which preventive measures can be taken’ (DETWA, 2007) p3) What sorts of issues does the policy cover?

Reasonable care; the guideline states ‘The duty owed to students is not a duty to ensure that no harm will ever occur, but rather a duty to take reasonable care to avoid harm being suffered.’ (DETWA, 2007) p3) In law the word “reasonable” can refer to a person “reasonable person” or when using care, “reasonable care” reasonable meaning using logic or common sense. Reasonable care comprises a number of different factors which relate to the level of care necessary to ensure the health, safety and well being of students, as stated ‘the students age, experience and capabilities… Physical and intellectual impairment… Medical condition… Behavioural characteristics… The nature of the school activity… The nature of the environment in which a school activity is to undertaken… Any conflicting responsibilities that the school or staff member may have; and normal practices within the school and department policies and procedures.

Negligence, vicarious negligence, constantly assessing risks whilst participating in school activities, ‘taking reasonable care to avoid doing or not doing things that could be reasonably contemplated as causing injury to others’ ((DETWA, 2007) p7). “Child protection, behavioural management, school excursions, OH&S, outdoor education & recreational activities, school visits/study tours for overseas students, smoking in the work place, visitors & intruders on the school premises.” ((DETWA, 2007) p8... Plagiarism)

Why is the policy important?
Deliberately causing injury to others is a criminal offence resulting in punishment of the person/ person's responsible, but injuries can be accidental when the factors leading to the accident are unforeseeable with no body being responsible for their cause. With negligence the injury might not be deliberate, but the accident can be foreseen, this can result in the injured person being able to seek compensation from the party/individual who was responsible for not acting to prevent to accident. To protect students, teachers and visitors when they are within the school grounds during school activities, lessons or visits from injury which...
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