Schools and the Law

Great leaders understand the law
Principals Australia Institute (PAI) invites principals to participate in this series of seminars, designed to help school leaders better understand the many facets of law involved in school management.

PAI is proud to partner with respected law firm Wallmans Lawyers to deliver this professional learning opportunity.
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Schools and the law: what you need to know

Every school leadership team needs to know and understand key legal risks that may impact upon the running of their school. From understanding a school’s duty of care, anti-bullying and discrimination against principals, and managing social media, , to preventing and managing stress-related claims, employment law, work health and safety, and dealing with difficult or hostile parents, every school principal should know how to deal in these situations.

PAI and our partner, Wallmans Lawyers, have worked together to bring you a series of workshops covering these key topics, to help prepare you and your teams for dealing with such issues if the situation arises. Topics include the following:

What is duty of care in the context of schools?
  • Understanding your duty of care
  • Codes of conduct and policies 
  • Is there a duty in recruitment of staff? 
  • Obligations on yard duty, before and after school care, sport and other injuries 
  • Educational malpractice 
  • Crossover with contractual duties 
  • Does a school's liability extend to the criminal acts of its employees? 
  • Record keeping and risk management, including understanding an employer’s obligations in relation to Working With Children Checks 

Employment contracts in public and private schools
  • Preparing and drafting an employment contracts: tips and traps 
  • Relevant considerations including industrial awards, policies and procedures 
  • Part-time and relief staff 
  • Performance management 
  • Managing staff who are ill or injured, or have extended absence from work – an overview 
  • Contract termination 

How to manage staff: from under-performance to misconduct
  • How to manage teacher performance generally - legal considerations, policies and procedures 
  • Addressing underperformance issues when they arise 
  • What is misconduct? 
  • How to investigate misconduct claims, including best practice in evidence gathering 
  • Case law: lessons learnt 
  • Managing the disciplinary process 
  • Managing a Fair Work or Industrial Relations claim 

Bullying and discrimination claims against principals
  • Defining bullying and harassment claims 
  • Defining discrimination claims 
  • Claims made when undertaking performance management or performance reviews 
  • Dealing with external investigators 
  • Reviewing case studies: what have we learnt? 
  • Creating environments which reduce the potential for bullying and harassment claims 

Preventing and managing stress-related claims
  • What is psychological injury and what are the common warning signs? 
  • What are the causes of occupational stress? 
  • Creating environments which can reduce psychological injury claims 
  • Managing workers with psychological stress 
  • Disputing claims 
  • The workers’ compensation system for psychological claims: what you need to know 

Violent or problematic students: duty of care and management
  • Ensuring the welfare of students and staff: what is the duty of care? 
  • Cyber bullying and other behaviours, including sexual offending 
  • When police should be involved 
  • Claims of discrimination against violent students 
  • Practical considerations for handling violent or problematic students 

Managing difficult and hostile parents
  • Identifying the types of behaviours that can cause problems 
  • Understanding the scope of parents’ rights with respect to the school 
  • What other rights need to be considered? 
  • Points at which behaviour becomes cause for consideration of legal action, and what are the legal avenues available 
  • Best-practice record-keeping in dealing with difficult parents 
  • Tips for handling tricky situations, challenging personalities and hostile environments 

Social media in the school context
  • Case reviews: what we have learnt about social media in the context of schools 
  • Managing staff members’ social media activity 
  • Inappropriate online interaction with students 
  • Managing online interaction between staff and parents 
  • Cyber bullying 
  • Student social media misconduct 
  • Reputational risk 
  • Crisis management on social media, including claims of sexual abuse 
  • Appropriate policies and guidelines 

About our presenters

Chris Wellington, Special Counsel, Risk Management and Dispute Resolution 

Chris is a highly experienced litigator and specialises in dispute resolution, particularly in the areas of professional indemnity, professional negligence, insurance claims and public liability. His expertise has been recognised in the prestigious Best Lawyers Australia list which identifies the nation’s outstanding legal practitioners as well as in Doyle’s Guide as a leading litigation and dispute resolution lawyer. 

Chris has a significant client base in the education sector, providing advice and training to South Australian teachers on a range of professional and legal issues, as well as to the University of South Australia. Active in his industry, he is regularly invited to present at state and national events, including at the annual ANZELA (Australia & New Zealand Education Law Association) conference, and to provide tailored training programs on a range of risk management and compliance issues to organisations and businesses.

Michael Kay, Partner, Employment, Safety & Workplace 

Michael heads Wallmans Lawyers’ specialist workplace relations, employment and safety practice. He has a significant client base, acting for employers in both the public and private sectors across Australia and internationally. 

As a result of his significant expertise, Michael has been individually recognised in both Best Lawyers of Australia for his work and expertise in labour and employment law, and in Doyle's Guide as a recommended Leading Employment Lawyer. 

Michael provides clients with day-to-day advice in relation to all aspects of workplace relations and employment management. Active in his field, Michael frequently presents at industry conferences and conducts in-house training for clients across all sectors. He has recently presented at the Law for Schools Legalwise Seminar, where he discussed Employment Contracts in the Education Sector. 

Find out more
Download the brochure here. To find a Schools and the Law seminar near you, visit our Events Calendar. You can also contact Principals Australia Institute on 08 8394 2100, or email us.