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Supervision of Pupils

The issue of school insurance cannot be considered in isolation from the issue of supervision of pupils.

Department of Education Circular 16/73 states that, subject to the authority of the board of management, the overall responsibility for the day to day activities of the school devolves on the principal teacher. Specifically the Circular states that:

"The principal teacher should organise supervision for the order and general behaviour of the pupils during school hours. In particular she/he should organise and participate in the effective supervision of the pupils during breaks, lunch periods, assembly and dismissal. A table of names and times of supervision duties should be on display in the staff room."

In accordance with the above, the principal and staff should formulate a school policy on supervision. This policy should be updated from time to time and should be approved by the board of management.

It is a matter of judgement for the principal, staff and board of management to be satisfied that the number of teachers on duty at any one time is sufficient to provide "adequate supervision". There is no agreed definition of "adequate supervision" as the degree of supervision required of the teacher will vary with the circumstances.

In this regard the following issues should be considered in formulating a school policy on supervision:

  • the opening and closing time of the school. (It is recommended that parents should be informed in writing, from time to time, of the opening and closing times of the school). A circular should advise parents of the hours between which the school will accept responsibility for pupils. A sample circular is contained in Church & General's Guide to Insurance Safety and Security in the School;
  • the number, ages and level of maturity of the children;
  • the layout of the school, including the layout of school play areas;
  • existing supervision practices and experience of accidents or claims;
  • arrangements for specific circumstances, such as wet day supervision, absence of teachers, swimming, school tours;
  • arrangements for allowing individual children to go home early in the event of illness, visit to a doctor, parental request etc;
  • the supervision of infants allowed to remain on the school premises after the conclusion of classes for infants; and
  • the supervision of children arriving via school transport before the formal start of the school day and the supervision of children awaiting collection by school transport after the formal conclusion of the school day. (c.f. Department of Education, Circular 24/71: Insurance Against Liability for Injury to Pupils and Teachers)