Schools' duty of care to pupils

Find out about your school's duty of care to pupils, when you might be held liable for an injury and how to minimise the risk of this happening.

Last reviewed on 8 August 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 7677
  1. Defining duty of care
  2. Start and end of duty of care
  3. Conducting risk assessments
  4. Liability for pupil injury
  5. When parents are in school
  6. Sending pupils home during the day
  7. Pupils travelling to activities alone

Defining duty of care

Schools have a duty of care to all pupils, including:

  • Pupils who are on the school's roll part time (dual registered)
  • Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities
  • Pupils with medical needs

The DfE told us this. 

While there are no absolute duties under legislation or common law, school staff must take all reasonable steps to ensure children are not exposed to unacceptable risks.

A teacher’s duty of care was historically often described as the teacher acting 'in loco parentis'.

Read more about teachers' duty of care in guidance on education law from the National Education Union (NEU).

Start and end of duty of care

Your school is responsible for pupils during: 

You're not responsible for pupils once the specified school day is over and once pupils have left the premises, except on specifically

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