28th September 2001 at 01:00
A parent is bringing an action against the school, because her son was injured by a football while watching a match from the touchline. Part of the case centres on the fact that the referee was a sixth-form student, albeit one who holds a referee's qualification. Several teachers were present on the touchline. Are we liable?

I should be surprised if this case went very far. This appears to have been a properly organised and conducted football match. It is reasonable to suppose that anyone watching a match from the touchline knowingly accepts the risk of being struck by a football and the fact of the ball going out of play does not indicate either negligence or recklessness on the part of any player or of the referee.

The fact that the referee was a student seems irrelevant, all the more so as he was qualified to do the job.

It was unfortunate that actual injury was caused, but, assuming that those present gave prompt and appropriate attention to the injured pupil, it is hard to see any basis for a viable claim.

My headteacher has refused to allow me leave of absence with pay to attend an interview for a promotion post at another school. Has she the right to do this?

It is a long-established custom and practice in the teaching profession to allow teachers to take reasonable leave with pay, when attending interviews for other jobs. All schools benefit from this when they have to make appointments.

There are times, however, when schools can be placed under considerable pressure, especially if a number of teachers are all going off for interviews at the same time. Aggravation is also caused when some schools, particularly when dealing with senior posts, stretch their selection process over two, or even three, days.

The granting of leave with pay is entirely subject to the headteacher's discretion and, should he or she consider that any individual is making unreasonable use of the system, then leave of absence without pay is the alternative. An aggrieved teacher may always appeal to the governing body, if the head proves adamant.


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