Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Q&A

Contact is key

Q I am an assistant headteacher and the designated officer for child protection matters. This morning a year 9 girl came to me and told me that a teacher had slammed a door in her face. She said that he had done it deliberately, because they had an argument in class. I am not sure whether this is a child protection matter or not.

A If the door slammed onto the student and caused her injury or hurt, then it probably could be deemed to be a child protection matter. However, if the door was slammed and no physical contact was made with the student, our view is that it should not be viewed as a child protection issue. An appropriate response would be to ask the girl for full details - if you think that she is telling the truth and that the teacher did it deliberately, perhaps have a word with him and leave the matter there. It does not appear that it is serious enough to warrant disciplinary procedures.

A diabetical decision

Q One of our 14 year-old pupils went on a school trip a couple of years ago and suffered a hypoglycaemic attack whilst away from his home and his parents. It subsequently emerged that the boy was diabetic, although there was no indication of this at the time he started the trip. His class is now preparing to go on another trip away from home and I would prefer to prevent the boy from attending, since it is unfair on the supervising staff to expect them to have to cope with a diabetic student who might go into a severe attack.

A We would strongly advise you not to remove this boy's name from a list of students accepted for the school trip until you have carried out a risk assessment, and to make sure that you can show that your decision is based on that assessment. If you are challenged you will need to show evidence that you have considered and weighed the risks and possible outcomes. There is a court case from 2002 (White v Clitheroe Royal Grammar School), in which the school's decision to do exactly what you wish to do was judged to be fatally flawed because of the way it was done; that is, they did not make a proper risk assessment and consider the implications.

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