Managing Risks in School Curriculum Activities

Version Number

5.4

Implementation Date

26/07/2016

Scope

All state schools

Purpose

​The department is committed to the health, safety and well-being of students, staff and others involved in all curriculum activities at schools or other locations. This procedure outlines the responsibilities of regional directors, principals, teachers and others to manage the hazards and risks associated with school curriculum activities. ​​​​

Overview

​This procedure:

  • establishes the context for effective curriculum activity risk management
  • outlines the responsibilities of school staff and others for the safe delivery of curriculum activities
  • establishes a minimum process for approval and implementation of risk management for curriculum activities undertaken in schools and other locations
  • applies to all curriculum activities organised and/or conducted by school staff.

Those responsible for any school curriculum activity have legal obligations and a common law duty of care to ensure the safety of all those involved in the activity through risk management.

When effectively implemented, risk management processes enable staff to demonstrate a systematic approach to safely managing curriculum delivery thereby fulfilling their legal obligations.

Curriculum activity risk management forms part of a school’s overall risk management framework.

The risk management of curriculum activities involves the identification of hazards, assessment of risks, control of these risks, and review of control measures.

All curriculum activities, especially new or unusual ones, must be considered in terms of their inherent level of risk.

This procedure, the Curriculum Activity Risk Planner and Curriculum Activity Risk Assessment (CARA) activity guidelines are to be used to determine the inherent risk level of an activity and, where necessary, plan control measures according to the ‘hierarchy of control’ so the activity can be conducted with an acceptable level of residual risk.

CARA activity guidelines have been developed for most curriculum activities to assist schools to identify and manage risks.

The majority of routine classroom curriculum activities involve minimal risk to safety, and can therefore be considered low risk. As these activities have little inherent risk, a formal written risk assessment is not required. Schools can manage this risk through regular class planning.

For medium risk activities, schools can document risks and controls, and manage risk, through regular curriculum planning processes.

For high and extreme risk activities, a CARA must be prepared and approved, and recorded in the School Curriculum Activity Register if not recorded in OneSchool.

Parent/carer consent is recommended for high risk activities, and must be obtained for all extreme risk activities and any activities that are conducted off school premises (i.e. covered by the School Excursions and International School Study Tours procedure).

Responsibilities

Regional Directors
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that curriculum activity risk management strategies are implemented in schools in accordance with this procedure.
Principals:
Deputy Principals, Heads of Programs (i.e. Head of Department, Special Education, Curriculum):
  • provide support to teachers and others in preparing CARAs and managing risk.
Teachers:
  • undertake, document, and seek (and record) approval for a risk assessment as required for the risk level of the activity
  • plan, implement, manage, monitor and review risk management practices for curriculum activities to ensure the safety of students and others.
Others supporting the delivery of curriculum activities (e.g. sporting club coaches, qualified instructors, parents/carers, volunteers):
  • implement effective risk management strategies to ensure the safety of students and others.

Process

Regional Directors:
  • provide training for principals to ensure their competence in risk management of curriculum activities.

Principals:

  • ensure all staff are aware of, and understand the need for compliance with this procedure
  • establish a process for Curriculum Activity Risk Management which facilitates:
    • identification of potential hazards
    • assessment of risk level of proposed activity
    • determination of control measures to mitigate risk
    • implementation of control measures
    • consideration and approval of CARAs for high and extreme risk curriculum activities, noting that only the principal can approve CARAs for extreme risk activities
  • record whether the approval of CARAs for high risk activities has been delegated to any relevant deputy principal or head of program (such as head of department, special education, curriculum)
  • use OneSchool or establish a process to maintain a School Curriculum Activity Register of high and extreme risk curriculum activities, including the following activity details as a minimum:
    • date/s of the activity
    • staff responsible for the activity
    • student groups undertaking the activity
    • activity description including the inherent risk level
    • date of approval to undertake the activity
  • provide training for staff responsible for the planning and/or delivery of curriculum activities to ensure competence in risk management of relevant activities
  • include a curriculum activity risk management component in staff induction programs, conducted as soon as practicable after appointment, to ensure all new and returning staff:
    • are competent in risk management for relevant activities
    • understand processes for the documentation and approval of CARAs (and recording on register if not using OneSchool)
  • be satisfied the competence of the nominated leader is appropriate for the activity
  • ensure a registered teacher takes overall responsibility for a curriculum activity (even when another adult is engaged for instruction in an activity)
  • ensure any incident or injury that occurs in association with a curriculum activity is reported, recorded, investigated and notified in accordance with Health and Safety Incident Recording, Notification and Management.
Deputy Principals, Heads of Programs (i.e. Head of Department, Special Education, Curriculum):
  • consider and approve CARAs for high risk activities as delegated by the principal
  • ensure details of the approved high risk activities are recorded in the School Curriculum Activity Register, if not prepared in OneSchool
  • monitor curriculum activities to determine whether an appropriate level of risk management is being undertaken.
​Teachers:

Activity planning and risk assessment

  • Refer to the Curriculum Activity Risk Planner to guide the risk assessment process when planning curriculum activities (i.e. when teachers are planning units of work or when a school is developing its curriculum)
  • Adhere to the CARA activity guidelines for the curriculum activity (if one exists). If a minimum recommendation cannot be met, identify and implement alternative controls to ensure an acceptable level of safety. If a mandatory requirement cannot be met, the activity is not to occur
  • Review available information about any condition (e.g. physical or medical) that may impair a student's capacity to safely engage in an activity; implement precautions as required
  • Comply with the following requirements for the risk management of curriculum activities, as a minimum:
    • for low risk activities:
      • manage through regular curriculum planning processes
    • for medium risk activities:
      • document risks and control measures and manage through regular planning (or complete a CARA – in OneSchool or by using the generic template)
    • for high risk activities:
      • discuss the intention to undertake the activity with your supervisor
      • complete a CARA for the activity in OneSchool or use the generic template
      • obtain documented approval to undertake the activity from the principal, or a delegated deputy principal or head of program, prior to the activity being undertaken
      • if not using OneSchool, record the activity in the School Curriculum Activity Register
      • consider obtaining written consent from parents/carers for students to be involved in the activity.
    • for extreme risk activities:
      • consider whether the activity should be done as part of the curriculum – do the potential benefits of the activity warrant the inherent extreme level of risk? Consider alternatives or modifications to the activity
      • discuss the intention to undertake the activity with your supervisor
      • complete a CARA for the activity in OneSchool or use the generic template
      • obtain documented approval of the principal to undertake the activity in accordance with the CARA prior to the activity being undertaken
      • if not using OneSchool, record the activity in the School Curriculum Activity Register
      • obtain written consent from parents/carers for students to be involved in the activity.
  • Note: Schools may choose to take a more detailed approach than using OneSchool or the generic template. At a minimum, any alternative risk assessment pro forma must include the following essential information:
    • activity details (date, locations, etc.)
    • identification of the hazards and risks
    • inherent risk level of the activity
    • students participating in the activity
    • level of supervision and competence of leaders
    • explanation of the planned control measures
    • date of submission for approval
    • approval details (who approved, approval date)
    • activity review notes.
  • The Curriculum Activity Risk Management Flowchart summarises the minimum processes required for activities at each risk level
  • Whenever there is a change of circumstance for an activity such as venue, student cohort, time of year or number of participants, any existing risk assessment is to be reviewed and updated as necessary.

Managing the activity

  • Manage the hazards and risks associated with all curriculum activities
  • Continue to assess the effectiveness of control measures during the activity, and adjust and/or supplement as necessary
  • Respond to any risk that emerges to ensure the safety of all involved in the activity
  • Conduct any curriculum activity in accordance with the approved CARA activity guideline
  • Provide comprehensive safety instruction in the processes and techniques associated with the activity to all involved
  • Ensure others supporting the delivery of curriculum activities are aware of all relevant responsibilities and risk management strategies e.g. provide a copy of the CARA or instruction information
  • Emphasise students’ personal responsibility for:
    • their own safety and the safety of others
    • following safety procedures and instructions
    • safely managing and reporting additional hazards identified
  • Reinforce safety considerations throughout the activity
  • Maintain adequate supervision of students at all times
  • Ensure students adhere to all safety instructions and directions in relation to the activity and the use of equipment, materials and personal protective equipment
  • Ensure Blue Card requirements are met in accordance with the Working with Children Check - Blue Cards procedure. 

Monitoring, reviewing and responding to events

  • Maintain an ongoing review of control measures to ensure adequate reduction of ri​sks associated with hazards
  • Modify or add control measures as necessary to ensure safety, and document these amendments so they can be used the next time the activity is undertaken
  • Report all injuries, illnesses and dangerous incidents that occur as a result of the activity in accordance with the Health and Safety Incident Recording, Notification and Management procedure.
Others supporting the delivery of curriculum activities (e.g. sporting club coaches, qualified instructors, parents/carers, volunteers):
  • Implement risk management processes as provided by the supervising teacher
  • Follow instructions and/or CARA
  • Raise any concerns with responsible staff immediately
  • Report any incidents to the supervising teacher immediately
  • Comply with Blue Card requirements in accordance with the Working with Children Check - Blue Cards procedure.

Online Resources

Review Date

31/05/2017
Attribution CC BY

Acceptable level of residual risk
An acceptable level of risk exists when the educational outcomes expected to be achieved in undertaking an activity justify doing the activity, given the level of risk.
Residual risk is the level of risk remaining after the controls have been put in place.

Controls/control measures
Actions implemented to eliminate or minimise a risk as far as is reasonably practicable. Control measures should be regularly reviewed to ensure their effectiveness.

Curriculum Activity Risk Assessment (CARA)
A document that records the risk management process that a school has undertaken prior to the curriculum activity occurring.

Curriculum Activity Risk Assessment (CARA) activity guideline
Information that has been collated about an activity to assist staff to assess and minimise risks and conduct the activity as safely as possible.

Curriculum activity risk management
The process of managing the risks of curriculum activities, involving:

  • identification of potential hazards
  • assessment of the inherent risk level
  • identification and implementation of controls to mitigate risk
  • monitoring and review of controls to ensure ongoing effectiveness.

For high and extreme risk activities, a CARA (and approval) is also required prior to the activity being undertaken.

Duty of care
Under common law, those responsible for curriculum activities must take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risks of injury, for example:

  • making sure that activities are safe and appropriate for students’ ages and abilities
  • ensuring students are properly instructed and prepared for the activities
  • ensuring all equipment is in a safe condition
  • providing adequate supervision.

Extreme risk activity
An activity that is inherently dangerous. There is a high chance of a serious incident occurring that would result in a highly debilitating injury.

Hazard
Anything that has the potential to cause harm to a person (e.g. electricity, chemicals). Hazards generally arise from the physical environment, equipment or materials used, and how the activity is designed, performed and managed.

Hierarchy of control
Control measures should be considered and used in this order:

  1. ​Elimination: remove the hazard completely from the workplace or activity
  2. Substitution: replace a hazard with a less dangerous one (e.g. using a softer ball, different location)
  3. Isolation: separate people from the hazard (e.g. safety barrier)
  4. Redesign: changing a work process or layout of a work area
  5. Administration: putting rules or training in place to make a workplace safer
  6. Personal Protective Equipment: protective clothing and equipment (e.g. helmet, gloves, shin-pads).

High risk activity
An activity where there is a likely chance of a significant incident resulting in injury or illness requiring medical treatment.

Inherent level of risk
The level of risk existing before any controls are put in place, relating to:

  • the nature of the activity
  • those involved, including:
    • age and ability of students
    • competence of leaders
  • equipment used
  • environment in which the activity is undertaken.

Legal obligation
A responsibility under relevant law. For example, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 places specific duties on persons.

Low risk activity
An activity that has little chance of an incident occurring which would result in an injury.

Medium risk activity
An activity that has some chance of an incident occurring which would result in an injury requiring first aid.

Others
Parents/carers, volunteers, external coaches and leaders involved in planning, delivering or supervising any curriculum activity.