Table of Contents
Western Australia’s Department of Education (WA DoE) instituted a children’s care policy for students while in school. This policy was expected to be a guideline for teachers and other responsible persons in protecting students from foreseen hazards while involved in school activities. Both teaching staff and non teaching staff were expected to apply professional skills as they encourage students’ independence and full maximization of learning opportunities. However they were also responsible in cushioning students from unworthy risks and dangers as well. Therefore report seeks to establish the relevance of WA DoE policy on Western Australian primary schools and how better the teaching staff would satisfy the demand of the policy. Finally the report also presents personal considerations which I as a teacher would consider in implementing the duty care policy as stipulated in the document.
Duty of care is a policy drawn from the common law. The common law is a set of legal principles which are established in the Australian judicial system and recognized in their courts. The duty care policy seeks to provide a clear guideline for schools’ policies and practices. It also elaborates on the roles of both teaching and non-teaching staff in implementing the policy and recognizes the help of external providers and volunteers in discharging students’ duty care. It is imperative to note that the policy does not demand the responsible individuals to provide students with an environment free from harm but rather avoid harms which could occur due to negligence.
Significance of the Policy Document
The policy was designed to provide a clear guideline for teaching staff and non-teaching staff participation in students’ care provision. The policy document enlisted reasonable care which should be adhered to in its implementation. Consideration was given to student’s age, experience and capabilities as key factors in providing duty of care to students. Moreover physical and intellectual impairment, behavioral characteristics, nature of school activities and environment were also listed as factors to be considered in undertaking care duty policy in schools. (WA DoE Duty of Care for Students policy pg4)
WA DoE duty care policy spelled out the implementers of the policy and their roles. The teaching staff, which is the main player, was mandated with care of students while involved or present for school activities. Their extent of involvement was also outlined in the policy document. The policy document also identified different risks which the students were exposed to as they participated in different school activities. The provided guidelines in the policy document considered the possibility of occurrence of risks, their magnitude and challenges in tackling these risks.
In addition, the WA DoE duty care policy provided substantial definitions of terms and individuals to demarcate the extent of participation by the responsible individuals. This was attached with other related children’s education policies which would enhance implementation of the policy. Relevant legislations and authority were also indicated in the policy document to act as alternative source of regulations in enforcing ‘‘WA DoE duty care policy’’ policy among students.
Therefore the document stems out to be very significant in defining the role of teachers in ensuring that student’s safety is achieved while in their jurisdiction. It also continues to explain the social responsibility of the students despite intervention from other parties. This is equally important in the present society as students’ welfare is less regarded resulting into harms which are avoidable if proper mitigation steps are undertaken. The policy was crafted while targeting responsible individuals in the school set-up. These consist of teaching staff, non-teaching staff, volunteers and other external providers of such services whose actions are governed by the policy. However the school and the responsible teacher concerned are directly affected by the policy.
Part 2 – Action Plans
A student is consistently interrupting other students during a classroom lesson. In dealing with this student’s interruptions, the teacher sends the student out of the classroom for ‘time out’. The teacher tells the student to wait outside the classroom door until asked to return to
the room. This reprimanded student is no longer in the teacher’s view.
Action Plan; Scenario One
|Tasks and responsible persons||Responsible persons||Time duration||Location of the task||Resource used for the action.|
|Safety and welfare of the student sent out of class.||Teacher conducting the lesson and teacher on duty.||Classroom lesson period.||Assembly park near the staffroom and class.||Regulation provided by the duty of care policy document.|
According to the WA Duty of Care for Students policy, teaching staff is responsible take care of students’ welfare and safety while the students are present or involved in school activities. The duty care policy demands that the teacher assigned to oversee a specific school activity should be responsible for the safety and welfare of the students involved. The policy also spells out that such safety and welfare may be administered by the teaching staff when in direct contact with students hence the student sent out may suffer harm due to negligence. Therefore the teacher is yet responsible for the welfare and safety of the student sent out of class.
However in adhering to the policy requirements several factors must be considered in this scenario. The student’s medical condition, behavioral characteristics and the nature of school environment should determine the teacher’s decision in sending the student out (WA Duty of Care for Students policy pg4). Since the reprimanded student is not in the teacher’s view and could suffer harm due to negligence, the teacher in class should therefore contact the teacher on duty to keep watch over such student. The student should be directed to the school assembly which is located near the staffroom and the classroom. This would be vital in preventing negligence of the student hence avoiding reasonable harm from the student while out of class.
Despite the above concern from the teacher undertaking the classroom lesson with the help of the teacher on duty, the student sent out of class should report to the teacher on duty and remain in the designated location. The teacher undertaking the lesson should also be aware of the medical condition and behavioral character of the student before settling on such steps. Moreover the teachers concerned would be held liable for any harm suffered by the student due to negligence according to the policy.
In conclusion, according to duty care policy, the secluded student is vulnerable to harm and risks arising due to negligence by the responsible teacher. Maximum student’s safety and welfare must be achieved despite effort to create conducive learning environment to other students in the class. This calls for wise decision making by the teacher concerned as the student should receive duty care even while out of class. However the student could be assigned to a front seat in class where the teacher could monitor interruptions to other students.
A first year student teacher accompanies a supervising teacher out on duty at lunch time. While on playground duty an incident occurs that requires the supervising teacher to accompany a student to the administration block, which is not within the supervision area. The supervising teacher asks the student teacher to remain on duty for her as she tends to the dilemma. This would mean the student teacher would be the only teacher supervising the designated play area at this time.
Action Plan; Scenario Two
|Tasks||Responsible persons||Location||Resources used|
Safety of the playground and equipments to be used by children.
Offer medical assistance to the children (if competent) Prevent any bullying in the playground.
|Student teacher and the supervising teacher||Playground||Regulations as provided in the WA Duty of Care for Students policy.|
WA Duty of Care for Students policy, a teacher supervising a group of students is expected to provide adequate supervision in ensuring that grounds, premises and equipments are safe for use by the students. In this situation the supervisor will only be able to render duty care services when in direct contact with the students which will be hindered while attending to the student. The major challenge in this scenario is the credibility of the student teacher to handle the children as they may disregard his or her presence and competence to handle harm arising.
According to Playground Supervision of Students policy (Australian Education Training Department, 1997) the principal should ensure safety of students by assigning sufficient teaching staff to supervise the playground despite the non-teaching staff assuming full responsibility of supervising the playground while the supervisor is gone. The scenario also did compel the student teacher to assume the supervisory role which could be against his or her will. This would predispose the children to receive little care resulting into incurring avoidable harm by the children. However the policy document allows the supervising teacher to delegate his role as conditions may demand having been satisfied that the individual is capable to handle the role played. the situation also proved to be complex as the supervisory teacher had to accompany the student to the administration block leaving other children without proper care though it was necessary to do so.
From the above scenario, to ensure proper observant of the duty care policy, the supervising teacher must take minimum time as possible in the administration block. The teacher should then return to the playground and ensure all safety is observed as the student teacher may be disregarded by the students. Nevertheless the student teacher must assume full responsibility while left in charge of the playground as the duty care policy grants such mandate.
Part 3 – Personal Reflection
According to School of Business (1998) on laws relating to education in Western Australia, “In carrying out their duty of care responsibility, teachers should consider achieving a balance between supervision of students and encouraging students' independence as they participate in school activities.” This provides a guideline to me as a teacher in avoiding domineering students while preventing any foreseeable harm to the students. However for optimum results to be experienced in adopting the duty of carepolicy, the students’ discipline will be of great concern to me as a teacher. Disciplined students would reduce their susceptibility to harm as they participate in school activities by adhering to rules and heeding to my authority as their teacher.
In reference to the WA Duty of Care for Students policy 2007, section 3.3 would be very relevant in administering my duty care services. This section explains the role of teaching staff in the duty of care policy. Due to teacher-student relationship, my care is demanded to all students involved or present for the purpose of school activities irrespective of their schools as stipulated in this section. It could be quite challenging as schools may have different rules for their students and also failure of visiting students to recognize authority of unfamiliar teacher. Therefore the policy document should be considerate of such circumstances and provide clear guideline on how they should be handled.
In conclusion the policy document would be helpful to back-up my actions as a teacher in providing duty of care to the students. Though the document may not provide concrete elaborations under some circumstances, it grants the needed authority in exercising care to students.