Analyzing the Duty of Care Policy in Western Australia

Topics: Education, School, School terminology Pages: 5 (1687 words) Published: October 26, 2011
The reason of this report is to not only analyse the Duty of Care for students’ policy (Department of Education and Training, Western Australia, 2007) but to also illustrate how this policy applies to a local primary school. The policy was put in place to ensure that all children were protected against any foreseeable injuries and explains both the ethical and legal responsibilities to insure the students’ safety while in the care of the school. It is a legal duty to take reasonable actions in order to protect the students from any potential risks of injury or harm that could be considered reasonably foreseeable (DETWA, 2007 p.3). This report will address three different scenarios in relation to the duty of care policy in schools. Students have been arriving to school early and have had little to no supervision; a teacher recruits students to his community football team during school hours and refers to the team by the school’s name; a student teacher is left to supervise a class even though she feels she is not competent enough to do so.

According to the Department of Education and Training, Western Australia (2007), duty of care is a duty imposed by common law to minimise the risk of harm to others, in this case, it is the teachers duty of care to ensure that the children are reasonably protected from any foreseeable injuries in the school environment. The policy explains: who is responsible, the need for qualification when working with children, who owes a duty of care to the students, and who may be liable if that duty of care is neglected.

The policy
The policy was written to ensure that all children would be protected from any foreseeable risks or injuries. “The policy is important as it gives responsibility to the teachers in that they must protect the students from any ‘reasonable foreseeable injuries’” (Whitton. Et al., 2010, p54). To insure that the children are protected, the teachers must first pass ‘working with children’ checks and a ‘police check’. This is so that anyone who may be seen as a risk to, or not ‘fit’ to work with, children may not work in a school environment and letting them do so breaches the schools duty of care to the students.

This policy is important in primary schools as young children may not be able to see the possible risks that adults would. More duty of care would be taken in relation to a primary school than a secondary school. It aims to protect students from any risks of harm that are reasonably foreseeable; this means that teachers must take reasonable measures to ensure they are being protected. This requires protection from not only known hazards that could arise in that situation, but also protection from any harm that may “foresee-ably arise and against which preventative measures can be taken” (DETWA, 2007, p.3)

The Duty of Care policy affects not only teaching staff, but also any non-teaching staff (school nurses, librarians and librarian assistants etc), volunteers (parents/guardians, community members, student teachers etc) and external providers (businesses/individuals who are paid by the school to provide a venue, service and/or expertise appropriate to a certain activity) (DETWA, 2007, p. 9). If a member of the teaching staff requests a volunteer, non-teaching staff member, or an external provider to personally care for students without them or any other teaching staff present, they must know that they can refuse at any time, but if they do agree to do so they will owe the “same duty of care to those students as the duty owed by the teaching staff” (DETWA, 2007, p. 8). However, the teacher’s actions must be reasonable in that they ensured that they were fit and agreed to look after the students’. Ignoring to do this is a breach in the duty of care. (DETWA, 2007, p.6)

Scenario One
A number of students arrive early to school at about 7:40 am each morning. The first teachers usually arrive about thirty minutes later....

References: Curriculum Materials Information Services, (2009). Duty of Care. School Library Support. Retrieved from:
Western Australia Department of Education (2007). Duty of Care for Students. Perth: The Government of Western Australia. Retrieved from:
Whitton, D., Barker, K., Nosworthy, Sinclair, C., Nanlohy, P. (2010). Learning for Teaching: Teaching for Learning. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning.
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