It is quite obvious that students need complete safety in the school, both at the time of the classes and during the break. With help of the system of rules suggested in the Duty of Care for Students, the latter will be provided with safety and will be protected from any harm at school. Following the rules introduced in the Duty of Care for Students, both the teachers and the children will be able to feel certain in the school.
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There is no need saying that the only rationale for the Duty of Care for Students is the concern for students’ safety and the wish to provide them with all the necessary knowledge represented in the curriculum and at the same time care for the students’ health.
As the Policy Statement says, “The duty is to take such measures as are reasonable in all the circumstances to protect students from risks of harm that reasonably ought to be foreseen” (The Department of Education). Thus, the chief goal of the Duty of Care is to provide the instructions which will guide the teachers to the safest way of holding classes and will allow them to create the safest environment for the students.
It must be born in mind that the policy for the Duty of Care for Students deals with multiple issues, which allows teachers to apply it to various situations. Dealing both with the issue of students’ safety and with providing them with the necessary knowledge, the Duty of Care also emphasizes the necessity to balance between controlling the students’ behavior and providing students’ with personal space:
Teaching stuff must exercise their professional judgement to achieve a balance between ensuring that students do not face an unreasonable risk of harm and encouraging students’ independence and maximizing learning opportunities. (The Department of Education)
Code of Conduct
Another important issue concerning the Duty of Care policy is the code of conduct which it suggests. Establishing the rules for both the students and their supervisors will help to avoid the complicated situations in school practice. Aimed at providing the top-level protection for students, these rules are designed to shape the idea of teachers’ correct behavior.
The rules in the Duty of Care for Students presuppose that the teachers’ actions were aimed at students’ safety: “All staff employed by the Director General is responsible for the care, safety and protection of children” (The Department of Education).
Thus, the code of conduct prescribes the reasonable use of teachers’ authority for the benefit of students. Duty of careA duty imposed by the law to take care to minimise the risk of harm to another.School administrators (principals and those as listed in regulation 127 of the School Education Regulations 2000);
- Teachers other than school administrators; and
- Any other class as prescribed in regulation 127A of the School Education Regulations 2000.
It goes without saying that the policy suggests the rules which the students’ safety depends on. Thus, its importance cannot be denied. With help of the rules in the Duty of Care, students will feel completely protected, and their parents can be absolutely sure that nothing will happen to their children as they attend the school classes.
Subjects of Policy
As it has turned out, the teaching staff who are supposed to ensure students’ safety as far as the school activities concern are subject to the Duty of Care fro Students: “Teaching staff owe a duty to take reasonable care for the safety and welfare of students whilst students are involved in school activities” (The Department of Education). However, it must be admitted that not only teaching staff can take care of students: non-teaching personnel, the volunteers, are also welcome (The Department of Education).
One of the conflict situations which need solution is the fact that children arrive earlier than the first teacher does. Being unattended, children can face a number of dangers, which means that the situation must be somehow tackled. As Alexander (2000) marked, “All people owe a duty of care to other people not to injure another as a result of his or her negligent acts or omissions” (p. 1).
Thus, the early arrival of students, which is the cause of concern in the given case, must be controlled. However, it is worth noticing that in this case the situation should not be handled by teachers. Since the rules prescribe that both the school staff and the students must arrive at certain time, it is the parents’ concern to take care of the children in this case. Thus, parents should put their children in before-school care to avoid probable danger.
Such approach should not be considered the reason to think that the teacher cannot handle the complicated situation. What it signifies is the fact that the teacher is not supposed to go beyond his commission and interfere with the schedule of both parents and children. Instead, the teaching stuff should suggest the idea of before-school care to the parents. As Human Services (2000) claims, “What is considered reasonable will depend on all the circumstances” (8).
As it has been detected, students misbehave and do not follow the instructions of the teacher during the school excursions. Feeling that the environment has changed from the enclosed space of the classroom into the open space, the students interpret this change as the reason to behave in a way different from the established rules.
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As a result, they seldom follow the instructions of the teacher during the excursions. Although their behavior does not trigger serious consequences, it might cause certain difficulties, which means that it must be dealt with. Since school excursions “contribute to the development of their understandings, skills and attitudes” (The Department of Education), it would be inappropriate to forbid excursions.
Instead, in this case, it is necessary to talk to the students, explaining them that excursions are a type of school activities, and therefore the students must follow the teacher’s instructions during the excursions as well: “An excursion is any student-learning activity conducted off the site of the school” (The Department of Education.). In the given situation, the balance between enjoyment and legal liability must be maintained (Crouch 1996, 26)
As it has turned out, some students argue that they should attend the classes in agricultural education, yet the age restrictions do not allow them to. It should be added that such classes are not considered as compulsory, for the students to choose between agricultural education and exploring some other subject of their preference in depth.
Yet some students have expressed eagerness to participate in the abovementioned classes, but have encountered the age limit for this kind of activities. However, it must be kept in mind that agricultural classes can take place among younger students if they are held under the supervision of the professional instructor: “Principals may authorise secondary students participating in agricultural education programs to drive vehicles and machines on the school property” (The Department of Education).
Since the teacher must also play the part of a facilitator, suggesting the students the “learning opportunities” (Harden 2000, 337), the students can take part in the agricultural classes so that they could learn how to handle various vehicles. As Flewelling (2003) says, articulating the problem will launch the sense-making cycle and help to tackle it faster (94).
It is quite evident that with help of the Duty of Care for Students the most complicated issues concerning the school program and school behavior can be tackled. Following the principles established in the Duty of Care for Students, the teachers can be certain about the safety of the students. Thus, the significance of the Duty of Care for Students cannot be doubted.
Alexander, C. & Ellison, M. (2000) Duty of Care for Schools. Sydney, AU: NCSIA Conference.
Crouch, R. H. W. (1996) School Sport and the Law. The Practicing Administrator, 3, pp. 26 28. Duty of Care for Students. The Department of Education. [Data file] Web.
Flewelling, G. & Higgison, W. (2003) Where Do a Problem Solver’s Problems Come from? Teaching with Rich Learning Tasks: A Handbook (92-95). England, UK: Badsey Publications.
Harden, R. M., & Crosby, J. (2000) Amne Guide No 20. The Good Teacher Is More Than a Lecturer – The Twelve Roles of the Teacher. Medical Teacher, 22 (4), pp.334-345
Human Services. (2000) Duty of Care. Legal Services, Victorian Government Department of Human Services: Melbourne, AU