2.1.2 Duty of Care Policy

RATIONALE                                                                                                                                                         DRAFT Sept 2016                                                                                                                              

Bellarine Secondary College acknowledges that in addition to their professional obligations, principals, teachers and educational support staff have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to protect students in their care from risks of harm or injury that are reasonably foreseeable.

PURPOSE

  • To ensure that all staff; College Council employees and Department of Education and Training (DET) employees, have an understanding of their duty of care to students, and behave in a manner that does not compromise these legal obligations

POLICY STATEMENT

  • In addition to their professional obligations, principals, teachers and educational support staff have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to protect students in their charge from risks of injury that are reasonably foreseeable
  • Although the general duty is to take reasonable steps to protect students from reasonably foreseeable risks of injury, specific (but not exhaustive) requirements of the duty involve providing adequate supervision in the school or on school activities, providing safe and suitable buildings, grounds and equipment, providing effective anti-bully strategies, and ensuring appropriate and timely medical assistance is provided to injured or sick students.
  • The Child Safe Standards direct staff to act to ensure the safety of children from abuse. Staff must comply with the requirements of Ministerial Order No.870. Refer to Bellarine Policy 2.1.3, 2.1.9 and 4.4
  • Staff duty of care is not confined to the geographic area of the school, or to school activities, or to activities occurring outside the school where a student is acting on a staff member’s instructions. The duty also applies to situations both before and after school where a staff member can be deemed to have ‘assumed’ the staff member pupil relationship
  • The staff member’s duty of care is greater than that of the ordinary citizen in that a staff member is obliged to protect a student from reasonably foreseeable harm or to assist an injured student, while the ordinary citizen does not have a legal obligation to respond
  • Staff members are also cautioned against giving advice on matters that they are not professionally competent to give (negligent advice). Advice is to be limited to areas within a teacher’s own professional competence and given in situations arising from a role (such as careers teacher, year level coordinator or subject teacher) specified for them by the principal.

IMPLEMENTATION

  • The Staff Handbook produced annually will contain information and direction with regard to meeting duty of care responsibilities both within the College grounds and beyond them
  • Whilst each case regarding a staff member’s legal duty of care will be judged on the circumstances that occurred at the time, the following common examples may be times when a staff member has failed to meet their legal duty of care responsibilities to their students:-
  • arriving late to or failing to attend scheduled timetabled yard and supervision duty responsibilities
  • failing to act appropriately to protect a student who claims to be bullied
  • believing that a child is being abused but failing to report the matter appropriately (Mandatory reporting)
  • being late to supervise student entry to class after the bell has sounded
  • leaving students unattended in the classroom or ignoring dangerous play
  • leaving the school during ‘non-face to face teaching time’ without approval
  • inadequate supervision on a school excursion or incursion
  • failing to approach non-College personnel seen within the College grounds
  • Staff members must ensure that the advice they give is correct and well documented and, where appropriate, in line with the most recent available statements from institutions or employers. Staff should not give advice in areas where they may lack expertise.

REFERENCES

Ministerial Order No. 870 – child Safe Standards – Managing the risk of child abuse in schools
Bellarine Secondary College Policies 2.1.9, 2.1.3 and 4.4

REFERENCES: Nil       

Policy number 2.1.2
Approval date September 2016
Review date September 2019
DET/VRQA required Yes

EVALUATION: This policy will be reviewed every three years or more often if necessary due to changes in regulations or circumstances.