When non-teaching staff, volunteers and external providers agree to take personal care of students in the absence of a teacher they will owe a duty of care to the students. They must take reasonable measures to prevent harm coming to the students.

The Department of Education policy describes non-teaching staff, volunteers and external providers as follows:

Non-teaching staff – employees of the College who work on the College premises and are not part of the teaching staff. eg Librarians, laboratory assistants, exam supervisors.

Volunteers – an adult or organisation who/which offers services for College activities, but receives no remuneration from the College for the services provided, eg parents/guardians and other relatives, community members, employers who accept students on work experience, student teachers.

External Providers – a business/individual paid by the College to provide a venue, service and/or expertise appropriate to a particular College activity, eg. private dance teacher, Perth Zoo, AQUA, Scitech.

Non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers are not generally personally responsible for students and do not have the same duty of care to students as do teachers.

However, in certain situations and under certain conditions teachers may delegate a proportion of their duty of care to non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg. parents) and/or external providers. In this case the non-teacher will then owe the same level of care to students as a teacher.

Before the College and/or the teacher delegate the duty of care responsibility to non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers, it is necessary for the College and/or the teacher to ensure the following are satisfied, as a failure to do so could result in a breach of the College and/or the teacher’s duty of care to the student:

  • That the non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers are suitable for the task being delegated.
  • That the non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers involved are covered by either the College’s insurance or have in place their own adequate insurance cover.
  • That the non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers agree to assume this personal duty of care for the students. They have the right to refuse unless it is part of their normal duties.
  • That the teacher has provided the non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers with clear instructions as to the level of care required.

It is recommended that these instructions for caring for students, the level of care required and the acceptance of this responsibility be recorded in writing and signed by the non-teaching staff, volunteers (eg parents) and/or external providers.

The Volunteers (Protection from Liability) Act 2002 states that schools, that are an incorporated association under the Associations Incorporations Act 1987, are responsible for the acts of a volunteer (ie the College is vicariously liable for the volunteer) where the work performed by the volunteer is done on behalf of the College and is done in good faith by the volunteer.

It is recommended that all schools familiarise themselves with the Volunteers (Protection from Liability) Act 2002, this is available at www.slp.wa.gov.au