Civil Law Essay

Submitted By ninassire
Words: 1239
Pages: 5

Schools are such a fertile environment for civil law and negligence actions due to the high level of duty of care needed for such a large number of students. It is so easy for a carer to turn their back and miss an incident, whether it be a physical incident such as a broken arm, or an emotional incident such as bullying. There is a certain duty of care that all teachers must abide by in the workplace to provide a safe and secure environment for all students, when a teacher does not abide by these certain rules put in place for the children’s wellbeing, there could be very serious consequences. Duty of care can be defined as “an obligation, recognised by law, to avoid conduct fraught with unreasonable risk of danger to others”. Every teacher and school authority owes a duty of care to take reasonable care to ensure that their acts or omissions do not cause reasonably foreseeable injury to their pupils (http://www.lawhandbook.org.au, 2014). In determining negligence, children are not held to the same standard of care as adults; instead their actions must be reasonable for a child of similar age, maturity, intelligence, and experience.
Supervision of students is one of the more serious duty of care requirements due to the extensive amount of time a child spends in the playground and classroom 5 days a week. There are certain rules and regulations put in place by the Queensland Education Department to for fill these duties of care. Teaching staff owe a duty to take reasonable care for the safety and welfare of students whilst students are involved in school activities and in the class room. According too the laws and legislations of Australia, In general terms, teachers have three duties; a duty pursuant to the terms of employment to comply with regulations, rules and lawful instructions, a moral/social duty to provide the pupils with the best education possible and; a legal duty to take all reasonable precautions to protect the pupils from injury (http://aeutas.org.au, 2013).
One example of a breached duty of care would be Geyer v Downs (1978). The facts of the case are quite simple, The victim was a 15 year old school boy attending Woden Valley High School, at the time of his injury, all members of staff but one were attending an emergency staff meeting called as a result of the sudden death of the principal early that morning. Only one teacher remained on duty. There were usually between 5 to 20 teachers on duty to supervise approximately 900 pupils. Taking advantage of the lack of supervision, a group of boys, including the victim, began to swing on the school flag pole. Part of the flag pole hit the victim causing him serious head injuries. They sued, amongst others, the Commonwealth of Australia which was the relevant school authority. The Commonwealth did not, however, employ the teachers (http://www.rag.org.au, 2000). The court found the commonwealth negligent for three offences, failing to give proper supervision, failing to ensure that the flagpole was secure enough to prevent freedom of movement; and failing to inform students that the flagpole was not to be used without teacher supervision.
The story of Steven, a 9th grade student that injured himself on school grounds without proper supervision would be another example of a case study in regards to playground supervision. Steven was a student at a NSW high school. One of his friends threatened to injure Steven and he ran away to avoid him. Whilst running away, Steven injured his knee leaping over a fence, causing him to land on the pavement. Was the school liable for lack of proper supervision of the students at recess? The court of appeal stated that the schools duty of care could have taken reasonable steps to prevent this incident. The school was not fully liable for Stevens’s injuries as supervision required depends upon the particular activity to be supervised as well as the maturity of the children involved, in this case, 9th graders. The count…