Is a school obliged to supervise pupils when they leave the premises at the end of the day?
This question was the subject of a case heard by the Court of Appeal last year. In the case of Wilson v Sacred Heart Roman Catholic school, a parent sued the school for damages for personal injuries to a pupil who was struck in the eye by a coat swung by another pupil while they were crossing the playground on their way home. The parent held that, had there been someone supervising at the time, the incident would not have occurred.
The court found that, while schools commonly provided supervision for pupils during the lunch break, there was no evidence that this was normally the case during the brief period when pupils were leaving at the end of the school day. The claim was, therefore, dismissed.
It is normal practice that teachers are expected to supervise pupils leaving classrooms at the end of the day and in the school building at that time. Where pupils have to wait for buses, supervision is provided to ensure good order, particularly when the queues are on the premises. Every legal case depends on the particular facts, but the Wilson case supports the reasonableness of current practice.