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Document Analysis of Wa Duty of Care Policy

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Document Analysis of the WA Duty of Care Policy


Duty of care is an obligation that is documented by law. As stated in the WA Duty of Care Policy (WA Department of Education, 2007, p.3) "duty of care is a legal concept that has its origins in the common law". This policy explains what duty of care means, and how teaching staff may carry out their duty of care to students, and the circumstances in which non-teaching staff, external providers and volunteers may owe students a duty of care. This duty of care policy provides a guideline to all schools in WA so that staff teachers, non-staff teachers and external providers to follow it with regards to the safety and welfare of all the students. The guideline consists of things such as school timings, behaviour of students within this time, and to protect them from harm and other risk related issues. There are three different scenarios in this report, which will be analysed according to WA Duty of Care Policy. 1) Student arriving earlier everyday at school before teachers' arrive. 2) A teacher privately recruits students to play football outside school hours, but uses the school uniforms and the name of school as the team name. 3) A student teacher is left alone to look after a disruptive class which she/he cannot handle.


The Policy

The apparent rationale for writing the WA Duty of Care Policy is to make sure that teachers take full responsibility of taking care of the students in regards to their safety and welfare.

The policy gives a clear clarification that during school hours or any school activities that occurs outside the school makes all teachers responsible and obligated to care for the safety and welfare of the students. It is a document which outlines rules and regulations for the schools and teachers to follow with regards to situations in relation to protecting them from any type of harm and injuries. By setting these rules and regulations it ensures that staff teacher, non-staff teachers and volunteers are dealing with such situations reasonably and in an extreme proficient manner. (WADE, 2007)

The policy covers some very important factors such as:

* Reasonable care - this is when staff teachers, non-staff teachers and volunteers owe a duty of care to the students in order to protect them not only from hazards but also from any injury that is foreseeable and against which it can be prevented. Teachers must deliver their professional judgment when it comes to keeping student away from risk related issues, whether it may be physical, emotional and psychological. Students need to have a safe environment in order to be encouraged for an achievable learning outcome. (WADE, 2007).

* When an agreement is made by non-teaching staff, volunteers and external providers to take care of student in the absence of a teaching staff, then this becomes their responsibility to provide a duty of care and take such actions that are reasonable in order to protect students from any type of harm. (WADE, 2007).

As stated in the WA Duty of Care Policy (WADE, 2007, p.3) "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".

There are some factors that need to be considered in terms of assessing the reasonable level of care required for students.

* Students' culture, race and religion

* Students with particular disabilities

* Schooling events within school grounds or outside school

* Transportation provided by the school

* The environment in which students study (For example, the classroom's temperature)

* The student's age

* The student's capabilities and experience

* Medical condition

* Behavioural characteristics

* The nature of school activity

* The nature of the environment in which a school activity is to be undertaken

* Any conflicting responsibilities that the school or staff member may have

* Normal practices within the school and departmental policies and procedures

The policy is very important because it gives a guideline to the teaching staff to take full responsibility of discharging their duty of care to students.

According to the WA Duty of Care Policy (WADE, 2007, p.5-8), the following people are affected by the policy:-

1. Teaching Staff :

Teaching staff have a duty to care for the safety and welfare of students when they are occupied in any school activities. For example; if a teacher is supervising a number of students from a different school during a school sports carnival, then that teacher owes a duty of care to all the students under her/his supervision to protect them from risks and harm. Teaching staff must take into consideration matters such as:

* Providing sufficient care and protection for the students

* Make sure that the use of premises, school grounds and equipments are safe and sound to be used by students.

* Planning strategies to stop school bullying

* Report any type of abuse such as physical, emotional and sexual

2. Non-Teaching Staff, Volunteers, External Providers :

Non-teaching staff, volunteers and external providers also owe a duty of care; although their duty of care differs from teaching staff and is not in the same level. But they must take reasonable measure in preventing anything that could harm or cause injury to the students or any member of the school. For example, school cleaners should not leave rubbish bins in the hallways, which may cause someone to trip over and hurt themselves. (WADE, 2007)

Scenario 1

A number of students arrive early to school at about 7:40 am each morning. The first teacher usually arrives about thirty minutes



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