When does a school’s duty of care start?
The school has a legal duty of care when students are on the premises, on a school day, using facilities or equipment and this may extend beyond official class start and finish times.
When are school hours?
A school is considered ‘open for business’ as soon as it accepts students onto the school property, and this may be well before the start of the first class.
If students arrive at school before supervision is provided, or stay on grounds late after school supervision ends, then you must take reasonable steps to prevent this from happening.
Parents need to be dissuaded from allowing their children to be on school premises beyond hours of supervision. It’s recommended the school includes in every newsletter to parents, the times school supervision starts and finishes. If parents continue to ignore this, you need to speak to them directly.
In the unfortunate case where a student is injured on school grounds, outside of official supervision times, it is important to be able to show that the school has taken reasonable steps to avoid the situation and that the duty of care at the time of the accident was not owed by the school.
When on school ground supervision you must:
- arrive on time and do not leave until replaced
- supervise your area of responsibility
- stop dangerous or potentially dangerous behavior
- assist injured students
- enforce school rules
- inform Principal of any ground or equipment defect
- not be involved with schoolyard games
How much duty should I have to do?
Schoolyard duty must be allocated equitably and, where part-time employees are involved, the duty should be allocated on a pro-rata basis.
There isn’t a formula that determines an equitable share of duty, it is something to be negotiated and determined at your workplace.
How many teachers are required on duty?
There is no precise answer.
A school must consider a range of factors when deciding numbers of staff needed for duty, at any one time, and these include — age and number of the students, type of activity, features of the school ground such as surface type and sheltering.
School ground maintenance
Regular inspection of the grounds and equipment is essential and unsafe areas, or equipment, should be immediately reported and declared out of bounds.
The school has a legal responsibility to ensure the grounds are also safe for visitors.