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Duty of care at school or daycare – Who is responsible?

Children in a playground | Shine Lawyers

What duty of care do teachers and carers have towards your children?

Every parent hopes that child’s time at day care and school will be an adventure filled with learning, play and new experiences. Children can’t (and shouldn’t!) be shielded from every bump and bruise but ultimately, carers and teachers must do what they can to protect them from serious injury. This significant responsibility is not only a moral imperative, it’s a matter of law.

Who is responsible for your children?

While on duty, carers and teachers have a ‘duty of care’ for the children they are entrusted with. Although it will ordinarily be the employer who will be legally liable for mistakes, teachers and carers will face consequences for serious breaches.

The question of whether a duty of care is owed towards children on school grounds before or after school is more complicated. The answer will usually be yes, if the school knew and allowed this to happen.

Teacher and Child in a playground | Shine Lawyers

What is the duty of care owed?

Owing a duty of care doesn’t automatically mean schools or day cares are liable for any and all harm which occurs on their watch. Accidents are a fact of life, especially where large groups of playful children are involved, and some injuries are no one’s fault. Applying the ordinary principles of negligence, the injury or harm must have been both reasonably foreseeable and caused by a failure to observe a reasonable standard of care. Teachers and carers aren’t expected to be supermen and women, but they are expected to take sufficient steps to protect their charges against reasonably foreseeable risks. In some states and territories, the government has introduced legislation which raises this bar even higher.

In practical terms, schools and day cares have a duty to provide safe and adequately supervised school grounds, take reasonable safety precautions during activities like sport and, to a certain extent, protect children from their own immaturity and the behaviour of other children.

What are your rights?

If your child has been injured at school or day care because of their teacher or carer’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation for their suffering and medical expenses. Shine Lawyers’ team of friendly, approachable lawyers can walk you through you your options on a No Win No Fee guarantee.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: February 22, 2018.

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  • Donna Johnstone wrote:

    Hi Ladies and Gents,
    Our son was on two occasions that we know of hurt which would of caused a huge amount of tears and pain. Both of these occasions the staff knew nothing about it. One a set of teeth the other a bruise that looked like an adult had punched him in the leg. Our son doesn’t have a lot of speech but his behaviour over the month that we had to endure before we could put him in a different daycare speak volumes. He was scared of being left there and couldn’t wait to get out the door of an afternoon.

    • Shine Lawyers wrote:

      Sorry to hear about your experience Donna. If you’d like to provide more details about the situation to our New Client Team they can talk you through the different services we offer and let you know if we can help. You can find our contact details here: ~Steph.

  • Maggie wrote:

    Hi, my daughter(5 years old) was injured in OSHC. Her teeth were bumped onto the floor and two of them intruded into the gum by 2/3 and another two were mobile. Her lip and gum was swollen seriously and there was lots of blood. The staff on duty had no idea what happened. They said the senior students playing with the young kids told them she tripped when playing a sort of running and chasing game. But my daughter said she was pushed/rolled by a boy. And my son also said that boy was involved. And after the accident, there was no notification from the care facility at all. We met P&C and they believed there were no negligence from them and they followed the right procedures by not notifying us. My daughter has been to emergency, two dentists, specialist twice and more in the future. I’m really upset.

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