Claims against schools
Claims against schools

The following PI & Clinical Negligence guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Claims against schools
  • Cause of action and who to sue
  • Procedure for child claimants
  • Breach of statutory duty
  • Negligence
  • Deterring desirable activities—Compensation Act 2006
  • Other types of claims

Claims against schools by pupils can arise in a number of ways, including pupils:

  1. being injured due to condition of premises

  2. injuring each other or themselves

  3. being injured by a teacher or other school employee

  4. being injured outside school premises while undertaking activities

Cause of action and who to sue

Claims can be brought against schools under breach of statutory duty and/or negligence. There is considerable overlap but, generally, claims can be divided into two categories:

  1. occupancy duties—duties, which relate to the condition of school premises

  2. activity duties—duties, which concern things done on school premises (or outside school premises while performing school activities, eg a school trip or sporting activity)

Claims involving occupancy duties can be brought against the school occupier for breach of statutory duty under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957). Identifying the occupier is often straightforward, being the owner of the premises in physical occupation. It is not specified by statute, but if a child is injured at a state school, usually the occupier will be the local (education) authority. Where the identity of the occupier is not obvious, the question is of control, ie who had sufficient control over the state of the premises? There may be more than one occupier at any given time.

Schools also owe pupils a common law duty to see that they