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 Duty of Care

Rationale

St Dympna’s School values the relationships between all members of the school community. As well as the educational, spiritual and social aspects of these relationships, the school is also aware of its legal and ethical responsibilities in regard to the children in its care. The school’s Duty of Care in protecting students from reasonably foreseeable injuries includes adequate supervision of students, protecting students from dangerous situations and maintaining safe premises and equipment. We are aware that the duties and responsibilities of the staff at St Dympna’s extend beyond the legal requirements to protecting the physical and moral welfare of all children.

Guidelines

To ensure Duty of Care policies and procedures are understood and followed, St Dympna’s School will ensure:

  1. The safety of the students is paramount at all times.
  2. All staff are aware of the existence of Duty of Care.
  3. All staff are aware that the school has a Duty of Care to students whenever the school is exercising control over the students’ actions. They are also aware that the known or ought-to-be-known presence of children in the school grounds constitutes a legal Duty of Care.
  4. All students, staff and other personnel in the school comply with the spirit and the specific content of the policy.
  5. All staff are aware of their responsibilities in regard to adequate supervision of students in all situations.
  6. All staff recognise their responsibilities in protecting students from dangerous situations and activities.
  7. Preventive risk management procedures are in place.
  8. Maintenance of safe premises and equipment is in place.
  9. Students are protected from bullying and excessively rough play.
  10. Staff are aware that liability depends on failure to take reasonable care in the circumstances and on the damage caused by that failure.

Procedures

(Refer to School Policies for Excursions, Administration of Medication, Visitor’s  and Critical Incidents Policies for more detailed requirements.)

General Supervision

Staff must take reasonable precautions for the well-being of students and others. There is a need for sound behaviour management and supervision skills in classrooms, around the school grounds and buildings, in sport activities, and while on school excursions.

Before and After School

The known or ought-to-be known presence of children on school grounds is sufficient to establish a legal duty of care. On setting rules concerning behaviour in the playground or setting supervision times, before and after school, the school realizes that it has a Duty of Care and that adequate supervision should be provided. Teachers must carry out their rostered supervision for the full term of that duty.

  • At St Dympna’s, supervision commences before school at 8.10am in the covered area. If children arrive at school before this time, they are to sit in the area outside the Tuckshop. No play is allowed. The use of the Before School Care Program is encouraged. Students are not to move to any other areas of the school unless under the direction and supervision of a staff member. No child is allowed to leave the school once they have entered the grounds, unless parental permission is granted and correct procedures are followed.
  • After school, children are supervised leaving the school at the car pick-up area near the Parish Hall. Children who have not been collected from the car pick-up area by 3.30pm will be taken to outside the School Office where they will then be collected by their parent or caregiver. No child is allowed to play on school grounds or equipment after school unless supervised by a staff member or other approved personnel. Use of the Outside School Hours Care Program is available, on application, to families who require these services and the Program is encouraged for those children who cannot be collected from school by 3.30pm.

Playground Supervision

Supervision of students at lunch and afternoon tea must be carried out with due care and diligence by the staff member on duty. The care required does vary according to such aspects as the age and nature of the students, the place and type of equipment being used and the space used and numbers using it. The Duty of Care rests with the rostered teacher and every effort needs to be made to fulfil the supervision duties.

  • At lunchtime, children eat their lunch under the supervision of the class teacher. The room or area is to be left tidy. When the bell for play is rung, children are to move to any of the supervised areas of the school. Staff will supervise the following areas: the Covered area, the top and bottom ovals, the library, The Early Years Precinct, the Adventure Playground, the Jubilee Walk and Middle Oval. Staff will move around these areas and ensure children are behaving safely and appropriately.
  • No child is to leave the grounds or to go to an unsupervised area unless given permission by a staff member who will then provide supervision.
  • Incidents of rough play or bullying are to be assessed and prevented. A report to the relevant class teacher or Administration may be required. When the bell rings, children are to move quickly to the covered area to go to the toilet, have a drink and move to the class line. On hearing the second bell, children should be quiet and wait for their teacher to take them into class.
  • At Afternoon Tea, staff members will supervise all students who are seated in the covered area. Children are to keep the area clear of rubbish, to behave appropriately in the toilets and at the drink fountains. Children are allowed to play on the top oval after children have finished eating. Staff on duty are to ensure no child leaves the area of supervision. When the first bell rings, children are to move to their class lines or the classroom. On hearing the second bell, children should be quiet and wait for the teacher to take them into class.

Sport and Physical Education

Sport and Physical Education are areas of school life which often require a great deal of supervision and care. Activities designed to enhance children’s capabilities are an important part of the educational process but, by their nature, they usually involve a level of physical activity beyond that experienced in the classroom. The following points need to be noted in providing sport and Physical Education opportunities for children in the school.

  • Students with low skill levels should not be placed in situations beyond their ability to play safely.
  • Students should not be forced to participate in activities beyond their capabilities.
  • Careful instruction concerning safety should precede any physical education activity and ongoing monitoring of students during an activity is vital.
  • Appropriate equipment and protective clothing should be available at all times.
  • Staff should be adequately trained to supervise sport and should carry out supervision duties in a sufficiently careful manner and for the total time a Duty of Care exists.
  • If adequate supervision or safety cannot be provided, the activity should not take place.

Excursions and Camps

Schools and teachers owe a Duty of Care to students for the duration of the camp or excursion. Camps often increase the Duty of Care required for the safety of the students and the staff. Both camps and excursions need to be assessed to ensure they are justified in terms of risk of harm and the value of the activity. It is important to thoroughly plan all aspects of the camp or excursion and to keep records of procedures followed.

  • The environment the children will be entering should be assessed for any hazards and procedures put in place to minimise any risk.
  • A minimum student/teacher (or adult) ratio needs to be set to ensure adequate supervision in all circumstances.
  • For camps and overnight excursions, forms should be completed by parents or guardians which provide relevant information about medications, allergies and other health issues. Consent should also be obtained for the student to receive any necessary medical treatment.
  • Parents or guardians must sign a form consenting to the student’s participation based on the full knowledge of what the camp or excursion involves. A separate form must be completed for every excursion.
  • Staff should plan for emergencies by ensuring a mobile phone, first aid kit and emergency phone numbers are available.
  • First aid kits are necessary for most excursions. A person with a current First Aid certificate should accompany any excursion involving physical activity or a remote location.
  • Buses that transport students to camps or excursions are to be equipped with seat belts.
  • Staff and volunteers who provide cars which are used to transport students need to be assessed by the school for competence and safety. A permission note from the students’ parents is also necessary.

Non-teaching staff and volunteers

Non-teaching staff and volunteers owe a Duty of Care where they take part in a school activity. The following points need to be taken into consideration. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that staff or volunteers are appropriately skilled to carry out any responsibilities which involve the safety of students.

  • Non-teaching staff who are asked to carry out basic first aid for students are expected to exercise due care when doing this, even though the Duty of Care rests mainly with the school.
  • It is advisable that non-teaching staff have First Aid training.
  • Volunteers need to be made aware of their Duty of Care if taking responsibility for a group of children.

First Aid and Disease

The Duty of Care requires a teacher to take control of a health emergency but it does not necessarily require the teacher to personally administer First Aid. Staff members should have current First Aid training and should be equipped to administer appropriate First Aid. The school administration will inform staff about students with specific health conditions.

  • Teachers with current First Aid training should carry out basic First Aid in the event of an accident.
  • Teachers are not expected to have the skills of a doctor. The Duty of Care is fulfilled if teachers do what a reasonable person would do in that situation.
  • Teachers are to write a detailed report of the incident.
  • Duty of Care does not require teachers to expose themselves to the risk of infection but it does require them to protect their students from a known danger of infection.
  • Duty of Care requires the school to inform teachers if any student has a serious contagious disease requiring them to stay away from school until no longer contagious.
  • Staff must protect themselves and all students from blood spills.

School Policies and Procedures

All Staff are expected to be aware of, and fully comply with, all School Policies, especially those relating to the safety and welfare of the children in our care. The Critical Incidents Policy, in particular, is in operation throughout the school and regular induction and training in its different aspects is undertaken. These policies have been developed, implemented and reviewed to ensure that the school has sound preventative risk management strategies and fulfils its Duty of Care responsibilities.