The purpose of this report is to analyse the Duty of Care for Students Policy provided by the Western Australian government’s Department of Education. It does this by firstly looking at the reasoning behind the creation of the policy, then determining who the policy is written for and finally stating why it is of importance.
The report examines the content within the policy and relates it to a local primary school. Three scenarios are discussed and the issues within them are analysed with reference to the policy. The steps that could be taken by a school or teachers to ensure that the policy requirements are met are explained and examples from other references cited. In the first scenario, students are arriving at school thirty minutes prior to any teaching staff. The second addresses students attending an after school sport session and the third is concerned with a parental volunteer being left in charge of students.
1. The Policy
A school and its teaching staff owe students a duty of care due to the teacher-pupil relationship. This was established in the case of Richards v The State of Victoria which stated that “duty of care…arose out of the special relationship…between the teacher and student” Crouch (1996). This policy is written to make teaching staff aware of how they can provide their duty of care to students and to help parents and students understand when and if a duty of care exists. It discusses instances when other persons, in a supervisory position towards students, must also provide a duty of care (Western Australia, Department of Education, 2007).
The profession of teaching is increasingly affected by the law as parents and students are becoming more aware of their rights and expectations, (Newnham, 2000). This policy is in place to advise, how situations can be avoided where a member of teaching staff, volunteer or external provider (WADE, 2007), can be seen to be negligent. It also clarifies for teachers when students are owed a duty of care.
The main issues addressed by the policy are firstly to provide a clear definition of what duty of care actually is, “to minimise the risk of harm to another” (WADE, 2007) and to also define who owes the students a duty of care, and in what circumstances. The document seeks to give guidelines on which factors can alter the need for a duty of care to be discharged and how differing situations can be assessed to establish whether or not a duty of care is owed, and how it can be provided. Discussed in the appendices are some examples of how duty of care can be discharged and a section on liability, discussing how an instance of negligence can be established by students or parents (WADE, 2007).
This policy is crucial in educating and protecting teachers, schools, volunteers, parents and any other person who has contact with students. It advises them when and how they are responsible to take “reasonable measures to protect student from reasonably foreseen...