Playground Supervision including Duty of Care

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					             Playground Supervision
                  Duty of Care

                                            Employment Relations

Playground Supervision
• The experience of playground activities contributes to
  students’ physical, emotional and social development.

• Playgrounds must be safe places where such
  development is encouraged in an environment where
  risks are minimised and adequate provision is made for
  a range of student activity.

• Staff supervising playgrounds have a vital role in
  ensuring student safety and well being.

• Supervision needs to be timely and proactive and suit
  the nature of the activity, the physical area and the
  number of students.

Defining Supervision

 “Supervision may mean the actual overseeing of an
 activity or task, or the management and direction of the
 activity or task. Adequate playground supervision is
 required to effectively manage the health and safety of
 all participants within a school environment including
 students, staff and external personnel within a school.”

 Guidelines for Playground Supervision (2009)

Award Provisions
 The School Support Staff Award (2008) makes provision for School
 Support Staff undertaking playground supervision:

 “Employees may only be required to perform playground supervision
 where the employer has developed and implemented a playground
 supervision policy in consultation with the Independent Education
 Union. Such a policy must contain provisions that:

 (a)   Specify the levels of training to be provided to employees;

 (b)   Ensure appropriate levels of support and assistance;

 (c)   Recognise that the introduction of playground supervision
       should not increase existing workloads of employees without
       commensurate increases in their paid hours of work unless
       playground supervision takes the place of another of the
       employee’s tasks.”

Some “Tips”
When on duty:

• Position yourself so that you can see the majority of
• Continually scan and move around the designated area.
• Anticipate problems – be pro-active
• Follow school procedures (e.g. administration of first aid,
  playground rules)
• Report issues/concerns at an appropriate time
• Intervene immediately if you believe that games or
  activities are not appropriate.

 Duty of Care

 •   Effective supervisory policies and procedures are
     vital to a school’s Duty of Care.

 • Every school community has a right to expect that the
   daily organisation of a school will demonstrate Duty
     of Care.

 • Duty of Care is based on Common and Statutory law.

Common and Statutory Law

• Common law- the extent of supervision expected of
  school staff/schools/education authorities (based on
  cumulative decisions made by courts)

• Statutory law- based on the Occupational Health and
  Safety Act NSW 2000 Section 8(2)- the employer is
  obliged to ensure that non employees (e.g. visitors,
  school children) are not exposed to risks to their health
  and safety.

Duty of Care – When is it breached?

    It would be considered a breach of a staff member’s duty
    of care only if:

•       the injury was reasonably foreseeable

•      the injury occurred because the staff member
        did not carry out their responsibilities in a
        sufficiently careful manner

Duty of Care – When is it owed?
    A duty of care is owed when the school is exercising
    control over students actions. In effect this is at all times,
    “in loco parentis”. This includes:

•    classes, laboratories, computer rooms, libraries, etc
•    indoor and outdoor play areas
•    during sport and physical education areas
•    when students are moving about the school
•    when students are travelling to or playing sports away
     from the school
•    during excursions and camps.

Duty of Care – Travelling to and from school

    Generally schools are not responsible when students are
    travelling to or from school on public transport.

    An exception to this rule would be where a staff member
    knew of some danger to students or knew of a danger
    the student might pose to the public, and failed to
    provide a warning about it.

Duty of Care - Liability
• A school’s duty of care cannot be delegated to anyone
  else. Even if the injury was caused by the staff
  member’s carelessness, the school will still be liable.

• When a student is injured, the parents are more likely to
  sue the school than the teacher, as the school’s
  insurance policy will pay the compensation for the

• The school will not be liable for a students injuries where
  the teacher is:
       - criminally negligent
       - is acting in a private capacity.

Duty of Care – How careful do you have to be?

  The courts apply a test to see how careful the
  staff member should have been. This is the
  reasonable teacher test. Courts will consider
  what the reasonable teacher or supervising staff
  member would do in the circumstances.

Duty of Care – What do you need to consider?

•   Was that particular event foreseeable?
•   The age and capacity of the students
•   The behavior of the group
•   Weighing the risk against the likelihood of it occurring
•   The gravity of the risk
•   Can the risk be justified on educational grounds?
•   Common practice
•   Student/teacher ratios and guidelines
•   Teachers with specialist skills

Duty of Care – Playground/Sport and Physical
                    Education Supervision

• The standard of care expected of staff supervising
  the playground, or organising sport and physical
  education, is determined by the factors mentioned

• What is critical is that the students are in a safe
  situation and that staff supervising are diligent and
  pro-active at all times.

Duty of Care – What to do if a student is injured
• Be familiar with and follow school procedure for this
• Duty of care requires you to take control of the situation
• Check with school administration to determine if there
  are any special instructions from the parents regarding
  medical care
• If the accident has occurred away from the school, try to
  obtain the names and addresses of any witnesses
• Once you have the opportunity, follow school procedures
  in recording the chronology of events, witnesses and a
  brief statement of the circumstances.

A Quick Tour through Our School Policies

• You need to be familiar with the school policies and
  procedures which relate to supervision.

• What are some key elements of each policy?
     e.g. Playground Supervision Policy
          OH&S Policy
          Bus Supervision
         “Drop Off and Pick Up”
          Excursion Policy
          Anti-Bullying Policy
          Child Protection.

Child Protection – examples of reasonable physical contact

 • Administrating first aid

 • Helping a student who has fallen sick

 • Assisting the toileting of a student who has special
   needs (individual plan in place)

 • Non-intrusive touch, e.g. to gain a student’s attention,
   guiding a student or comforting a distressed student.

 Child Protection – Good practice includes …
 • Avoid being with a student one on one and out of sight

 • Avoid touching a student other than on the hand, arm,
   shoulder or upper back

 • Do not touch a student in a way that may be
   uncomfortable for the student

 • Do not presume a hug or touch is acceptable to a
   particular student

 • Use verbal direction rather than touching.

 Child Protection – remember!

     It is not appropriate to make physical
     contact with a student in order to
     ensure they comply with directions.

Factors in Determining Playground Supervision

 In determining the level of playground supervision for the
    school, the Principal and staff performing this function
    should consider:-

 •   Numbers and ages of students
 •   Disabilities of certain students
 •   Behavioural difficulties of certain students
 •   Hazardous plant
 •   Trespass routes
 •   Student traffic

     Risk Management
Risk management is a process involving:

1.    Hazard identification

2.    Risk assessment - evaluating the likelihood and
      severity of risks

3.    Risk control - choosing control measures to
      eliminate/reduce the risk and implementing the
      control measures

4.    Monitoring and reviewing the control measures.

Become familiar with how risk assessments are conducted.

     Hazard Identification

      Studies into playground injuries show that the main types
      of injuries that occur are:
          -   concussions
          -   fractures
          -   cuts
          -   lacerations
          -   bruising.

      Effective supervision will help minimize these injuries

Hazard Identification
  A list of possible hazards in the playground might include:
        • overcrowding
        • hard surfaces under equipment
        • inadequate fall zones
        • lack of maintenance
        • platforms with no guardrails
        • equipment with the potential to trap children
        • pinch points and sharp edges
        • protrusions and entanglements (e.g. sharp edges and ropes)
        • syringes
        • broken glass
        • infection
  Report any hazards that you observe.

OHS Requirements

• Staff are required to report hazards under the
  OHS Act 2000

• If it is possible action must be taken to remove the
  reduce the risk of injury

• A report should be made if preventative strategies are
  required for the future.

Injury Management

• Become familiar with the school’s injury management

• Reporting of accidents and incidents which occur in the
  playground is essential to comply with effective
  workplace management and legislative requirements for
  these incidents.

• Causes of injury and disease need to be assessed so
  that necessary measures may be implemented to
  prevent further occurrences.

First Aid
• First Aid is the emergency care of injured or sick
      - preserve life
      - promote recovery
      - prevent the injury or illness becoming worse.
• The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 makes it
  an offence to hinder or obstruct the giving or receiving of
  aid to a person who is ill or injured at work, or to refuse a
  reasonable request for assistance in the giving or
  receiving of aid.
• What are the steps at your school?

Potential Supervision Risks

• Sun Safety

• Bullying

• Child Protection

• Local Issues e.g.
    - proximity to major roads
    - students prone to “escaping”

• Other?

Playground Supervision

     Enjoy the experience !

    You are performing an important
     role for the students in your care.


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