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Behaviour disorders and the negligent teacher

By Gordon Tait


The purpose of this paper is to examine the legal implications of the continuing rise in the number of school children diagnosed with behaviour disorders. Not only are teachers now subject to a dense grid of legal regulation, they are also increasingly vulnerable to actions in tort. It will be argued here that as more and more children are labelled ‘disordered’, then the concomitant duty of care requirements for teachers becomes more onerous. As a consequence, teachers are less likely to be able to defend themselves against claims of negligence. It is concluded that while the schooling system needs to retain a healthy scepticism about each new pathologising disorder that seeks special status for its sufferers, it also needs to provide greater training and resources for teachers regarding disorder management. It is also concluded that recent changes to negligence law regarding the issue of ‘reasonable foreseeability’ within breach of duty of care, may not be as significant as might have been hoped by the teaching community. Indeed, the elevated standard of care, as required by increasing numbers of disordered pupils, place teachers in an ever more difficult legal position

Topics: 180119 Law and Society, ADHD, Behaviour Disorders, Tort Law, Education
Publisher: AARE
Year: 2008
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