Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

McDonald, Jan (2001), Protection at school - the liability of school authorities for teacher misconduct. The National Legal Eagle, November 2001, pp. 9-12.

Copyright ©The Law Society of New South Wales , 2001.

Reproduced with permission.


Extract: Epidemics of flu, gastro and head lice aside, the school environment is generally a safe one. School authorities take care to select appropriate teaching staff. They establish procedures for the supervision of playgrounds, fire and emergency evacuation, and the conduct of sporting and other outdoor events. These procedures ensure that many potential accidents are prevented: science experiments are conducted with care; fights are broken up before anyone gets hurt; classrooms are emptied before fumes or smoke can overwhelm; swimming pools are protected by shade cloth. Occasionally, however, injuries do occur. Many of these injuries are the result of nothing more than unfortunate and unavoidable accidents among boisterous youths. A smaller number result from the intentional torts of third parties, especially assaults and batteries. This article considers recent developments in the law regarding cases where a teacher’s tortious conduct injures a student. In particular, it compares two decisions of the New South Wales and Queensland Courts of Appeal, and examines their reasoning in light of relevant High court decisions.

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