School of Hard Knocks

August 21, 2009
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Sadly, some schools have recently become a different kind of place to the kind of care free, firm but fair temples of educational lore that one might associate with Hogwarts or Grange Hill for example. The Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Palmer v Cornwall County Council reflects the violent reality inherent in so many schools today only too well.

This was a personal injury claim involving a pupil at a Cornish school whose eye was injured by a stone that was purposefully thrown at him by another pupil while he was playing in their school’s field. It was alleged by the Claimant that there had been a negligent failure on the school’s part to properly supervise the pupils in the field and that it was reasonably foreseeable that in the absence of adequate supervision, dangerous activities such as stone throwing would be allowed to continue unabated putting pupils such as the Claimant in harm’s way.

The claim was not successful at first instance. Factually the original court found that a ratio of 1 member of supervising staff to 50 children constituted adequate supervision. This decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal which recognised (perhaps resignedly and with a certain deference to the violent reality of school life today) that such a low comparative ratio fell well below what was realistically required.

If your child has been badly injured at school by another child’s violent act, it may be worth considering what the school could (or even ought) to have done to prevent the incident from happening. Your child may have a claim for compensation against the school for failing to take preventative action.

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