By law, the level of care expected of a teacher is that they act in loco parentis, or in place of a parent. A court will assess the behaviour of a teacher in the time leading up to an accident, and compare it to how a reasonably competent parent would have acted in similar circumstances. Schools are covered by the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, and owe a duty of care to their pupils, meaning they must take all reasonable steps to prevent accidents occurring on the school’s premises.
Under UK law, schools must also hold public liability insurance, to protect them in case of a successful compensation claim against them. Such claims have a knock-on benefit of driving up standards in schools, and reducing the chance of similar accidents involving children in the future.
Typical Accidents In Schools
Falls in playgrounds e.g. defective climbing frames
Slips and falls in swimming pools and changing rooms
Trips and falls in outdoor areas on uneven surfaces
Slips on ice and snow in winter
Injuries from improper or dangerous play during sports
Injuries from bullying and lack of supervision
Lack Of Supervision Of Children At School
Accidents at schools are commonly caused by lack of supervision on the part of teaching staff. Teachers may be poorly trained or on 'supply', meaning they may have no knowledge whatsoever of a school and its procedures. Supervision is especially important during sports and recreation activities, as it is during these periods that a high proportion of child injuries occur. Activities may also be poorly planned by teachers creating unnecessary dangers, or children may not have been properly instructed in how to carry them out. Children are often reckless with their own safety, and aggressive towards one another. A competent teacher must ensure that such behaviour does not imperil any child in their care.
Lack Of Maintenance Of School Premises
Defective, damaged or unsuitable equipment is another major cause of school accidents. Schools must provide safe installations and equipment for their pupils to use. This includes playground fixtures, such as climbing frames, and sports equipment, such as protective masks. Accidents may also result from a school’s grounds being in a state of disrepair, a common example of defective premises. Schools must ensure that all outdoor areas are safe for children to walk on, and kept free from obstacles and obstructions which could cause accidents. Concrete and tarmac must be properly finished and maintained, with no rough edges to prevent trips and cuts. In winter ice poses unique challenges, and many schools are forced to close temporarily as a result.
School Accident Compensation Claims
Parents often ask us; can I claim against a school if my child has been injured there? The answer is often yes. Provided your claim relates to an accident at a school that has taken place in the last three years, Bartletts can represent you on a no win no fee basis. You are assured of keeping 100% of any compensation awarded, with no deductions. In the event that your claim is successful, our fees are paid by the losing party. Apart from financial compensation for pain and suffering, you can also claim for loss of earnings, the cost of medical treatment and travel expenses. The vast majority of the claims we take on are successful, and where they are not we will charge you nothing. Using a regulated firm of solicitors is different to using a Claims Management Company because you are protected by the rules of the Solicitors Regulation Authority which govern the conduct of solicitors.