Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Extra protection for extracurricular activities

The Compensation Act contains clauses which are specifically included to assist schools and colleges that are involved in 'desirable activities' (eg outdoor pursuits) which may involve a degree of risk.

Negligence cases often turn on whether certain steps should have been taken to reduce risk. Under the act, courts may now have regard to whether the steps to reduce risk would "prevent a desirable activity from being undertaken at all, to a particular extent, or in a particular way," and/or "discourage persons from undertaking functions in connection with a desirable activity".

In other words, it recognises that some measures which could be taken to reduce risk (for example, having one adult for every three pupils), could be so expensive or cumbersome as to make the outing infeasible.

It does not eliminate the need for risk assessments or sound judgement but it does mean that where a prudent balance has been struck, there should be less risk of legal action.

A second provision will make it far easier for schools to express concern and regret, should an unfortunate incident occur, without putting themselves at risk.

The clause says that "an apology, an offer of treatment or other redress shall not of itself amount to an admission of negligence or a breach of statutory duty".

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