Duty of Care Owed Before and After School

Research Title:

The duty of care owed to students outside of school hours and when travelling to and from school.

The relationship between teacher and student falls within an established category of duty of care (Richards v Victoria, 1969). The relationship is one of responsibility and control whereby teachers must protect vulnerable students against the consequences of their own immaturity (Churchill et al., 2011). Students place a reliance on teachers. This reliance creates a protective relationship and imposes upon teachers a positive duty to act. Schools and teachers have a common law duty of care to anticipate potential risks of injury to students (Tie, 2006) and are under a duty of care to take reasonable measures to protect students against reasonably foreseeable harms. The duty is not to ensure against injury, but to take reasonable steps to prevent it (O’Brien, 1998). The general rule is that the teacher has a duty to take positive action for the safety of students whenever the relationship between teacher and student exists (Verma, 2002). This research seeks to identify if duty of care is owed outside of school hours and when students are travelling to and from school?

Literature Review
Research context and background

The liability for duty of care falls under the common law tort of negligence. The law of negligence is the result of common law, judge made law and to a lesser extent statutory law. Students must have individual responsibility for their own actions and safety, they are not entitled to expect to live in a risk free environment (Swain v Waverley, 2005).   However, risks can be outside of student control due to the negligence of others. Therefore schools and teachers have a legally enforceable duty and responsibility for their students (Stewart, 1992). This legal obligation is referred to as a duty of care (Churchill et al., 2011).

The law states that “when students are on school premises, in school hours, schools...