Claims Ireland

The Independent Service that Assesses Compensation Claims

Supervision in Schools

Much has been written about the issue of supervision in schools A school has a duty to exercise the care that a parent would in the circumstances. The duty to supervise arises from this primary duty. The school must provide adequate supervision in all the circumstances.

The degree of supervision required will depend on factors such as the numbers and ages of the pupils and the nature of the activities taking place at the time. It is accepted for example that there should be supervision in the major areas where students congregate, younger children need more supervision as do hazardous activities.

On the other hand it has been held in cases such as Byrne V St Laurence's National School that "one must not go to the other extreme of bringing up children 'cocooned in cotton wool'". So said Justice Lynch in dismissing that High Court action. Judge Frank Martin in the Circuit Court dealing with a 1983 accident involving Gaelscoil Insechoir said that "Teachers are under no obligation to constantly shepherd pupils at school". He said that "Constant supervision is not necessary" and that the duty of the teachers "is one of reasonable care, the same as a parent would apply". In O'Gorman v Crotty (1946) a ten year old pupil was being chased during play in the playground. O'Byrne J. said "In circumstances such as these careful supervision is essential and the persons having charge of the school are bound to see that there is supervision of the playground during play intervals". On the other hand O'Dalaigh C.J. in a 1966 Supreme Court judgement said that "when normal healthy are in the playground it is not necessary that they are under constant supervision". We have noted with interest the judgement of Justice Peart in the recent High Court case of  Wayne Maher  V Presentation Junior School 2004. The judge was very much of the belief that the requirement is for reasonable supervision and he emphasises the in loco parentis rule. The test is clearly what a reasonable parent would have done in the circumstances.