In the latest Education Law Monitor newsletter, Partner and Catastrophic Injury specialist Nicholas Thorne considers the nature and extent of the legal duty of care owed by schools to their pupils.
At around 14:55 hours on 14 January 2011, Hannah Pook, a Year 6 pupil, sustained a serious elbow injury at her junior school when she and other pupils were allowed to run from the changing rooms to the Astroturf pitches where they were to have a PE lesson for mixed year groups. The route took them through a car park and over an internal road within the school estate. As she and another Year 6 pupil approached the pitches, they started to race each other and Hannah decided to cut the corner by running over a grassy and muddy area rather than staying on the tarmac. The exact mechanism of the injury is unclear but it was accepted that she was running when she was injured and had fallen forward, most probably having tripped on the kerb at the point of the grass verge.
These were the facts that came before Spencer J, on appeal, in the case of Pook v Rossall School  EWHC 522 (QB) and which encapsulate the competing arguments as to the scope of the duty of care owed by a school to its pupils. It was not disputed that the supervising teacher, who was experienced in sports and PE, permitted the pupils to run to the lesson. Furthermore, that the claimant and her fellow pupil were out of sight of the teacher when the incident occurred, the teacher bringing up the rear with the equipment needed for the lesson.
Read the full details of this interesting case here (page 9 of the PDF)
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