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GRC Professional : GRC Summer 2013
17 COVER STORY In June last year, for instance, Year 6 pupils at Mount Martha Primary School in Victoria staged a protest on their school oval after they were banned from hugging or giving each other high-fives. Their parents were right behind them. In August Sydney's Drummoyne Primary School ban ned children from doing handstands, cartwheels and somersaults during lunch and recess, unless supervised by a trained gymnastics teacher. An outraged parent started a petition of protest. Principal Gail Charlier defended the ba n, saying it followed con sultation with the Depa rtment of Education State Schools Sports Unit, without going into specifics. In November Amber Rome, a student at Adam Road Primary School in Bunbury, south of Perth, made the news for being given detention because she gave her friend a quick hug after the school bell ra ng, violating the school's no-hugging policy, introduced in 2011. The Western Australian Education Department confir med the policy, stating that excessive hugging 'left some students with bruises and others feeling left out', but after a hue and cry from parents the school overturned the rule, relying instead on common sense. While they make good headlines and the policies implemented by pa rticula r schools may be clumsy responses to perceived risks, what the media has not acknowledged is that schools, now, are not the same environments commentators may have grown up in. Principals and staff are increasingly being required to develop compliance and risk management policies and procedures without any particular expertise in this area. The potential risks and compliance obligations for schools are growing. Over a generation schools have obser ved the increase in health and safety issues for students, from a rise in the occurrence The pervasiveness of social media and the use by students for bullying increases the complexity involved for schools attempting to manage it. Recent popular media debate about schools banning seemingly innocuous schoolyard activities like students hugging and cartwheels in the playground creates headlines, making these school policies appear extreme resulting in a generation of "cotton wool kids". BY DENISE MCNABB AND NAOMI BURLEY Putting the ruler over schools' duty of care
GRC Spring 2012
GRC Autumn 2013