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(A Child) v A Governor of King Edward School

15 August 2000
The issues

A Duty Of Care Owed By A School To Visitors To Sports Training Sessions – Supervision Of Pupils.

The facts

A Claimant claimed damages for personal injuries against the Defendant School when injured on the school premises. She had accompanied her mother to the school premises to collect her brother from an after school hockey practice. Practice took place on a pitch surrounded by a high fence with 30 pupils taking part between 11 and 12. There were three teachers present. After practice the pupils left the pitch through a gate whilst the teachers remained in a corner of the pitch collecting the kit, waiting for three or four boys to finish. As one of the pupils went through the gate he practised a hockey shot and struck the Claimant in the mouth with his stick causing her to suffer a fracture to the right upper central incisor, soft tissue injuries to the lips and psychological trauma. The Claimant contended that the pupils were unruly and not sufficiently disciplined whilst practising on the pitch or on leaving the pitch and that a number of pupils swung their hockey sticks after leaving.

The Defendant claimed that the pupils were given a talk on the dangers of hockey at the start of every season and that the pupils had left the pitch in a calm orderly manner.

The decision

The Defendant was in breach of its duty. Children could not be supervised every minute of the day. The boys had been warned about sticks. However, the school fell below the appropriate standard of care on this occasion. The pupils were disorderly before they left the pitch and the behaviour continued off the pitch. The three teachers were concentrating on packing up kit and not watching the pupils. None of the teachers saw the accident. If there had been a teacher by the side of the gate it would have been enough to prevent the pupils behaving the way they did.

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