Incursions, Excursions and Duty of Care

"Teachers, you don't have to do it on your own!"
 
This is general advice for individual artists and arts and cultural organisations providing incursions in, and excursions for, Western Australian schools.
 
The policies cited here apply only to Western Australian public schools and do not differentiate between, intrastate, interstate, international, Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA) and Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) schools. Individual artists and artists and cultural organisations are therefore advised to seek further information from these groups about relevant policies.
The public school insurance cover policies and guidelines apply to all external providers. To read the full list of school requirements to enable excursions with external providers visit the Department of Education website.
 
The Department of Education is committed to achieving a balance between protecting students from an unreasonable risk of harm and encouraging students independence and maximising their educational opportunities. Therefore, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Department of Education highly recommend artists and arts and cultural organisations working with public schools seek up-to-date advice and information from peak bodies and suitably qualified professionals in areas such as insurance, arts law (e.g. copyright and intellectual property), taxation and accounting.
 

Incursions

Public school Principals are able to engage relevant organisations/businesses to their enter school sites to complement the programs they offer to support staff and to meet the educational, health and wellbeing needs of their students. The type of activities being undertaken on the school site will inform the level of public liability and/or professional indemnity insurance. Decisions about appropriate levels of insurance should be made on a case-by-case basis and will be dependent on the nature of the activity. This type of service is often referred to as an incursion as the students do not leave the school grounds and the Department does not have a policy that specifics maximum or minimum amounts.
 
It is not unreasonable to expect any individual artist or arts organisation who receives payment for their work in schools to have public liability cover, ideally, at the level of cover required for excursions (see next section).
 
Ultimately the decision regarding the level of insurance required rests with the Principal.  It would be expected that the principal would require the external provider to have some level of cover; they may or may not be willing to accept an alternative amount. That amount is informed by the activity delivered by the external provider.  A Principal is within their right as the responsible officer for the school site to request evidence of cover from any external provider before entering into a contract.
 
It is highly recommended that artists or arts and cultural organisations working in schools negotiate a contract or work agreement before commencing any activities on site in schools. The conversation about insurance cover should happen early on in this negotiation along with rates of pay and working hours, use of facilities etc.
 
Agreement on insurance cover should be stipulated in the contract/work agreement. See advice on artist agreements here.
 
If an external provider does not have their own public liability insurance cover then the school would be liable and this should be explicit in any contract.
 

Excursions

An excursion is any student-learning activity conducted off the site of the school, at which students are enrolled, that is organised or managed by a member of staff employed by the Department of Education and who has obtained the appropriate approval(s). For example a school visit to an artist’s studio, theatre or gallery.
 
Many venue-based institutions run in-house education programs and/or employ educators, education officers or managers who can explain their programs and may be able to tailor them to meet public school requirements.
 
Excursion providers can assist teachers to deliver more engaging and relevant activities for students, not only in the five art subjects and cross-curriculum priorities, but also across other learning areas.
 
For an individual artist or arts and cultural organisation, informing teachers about your excursion activity and making sure you assist them to develop a proposal for excursion is essential.
 
In developing your proposal, consult the Department of Education policy* provided to public school teachers about excursions. This document can be obtained from the Department’s website here.
 
Individual artists and arts and cultural organisations must liaise directly with those schools they are booked by to ensure systemic and local needs are addressed. Schools are responsible for submitting excursion proposals compliant with Department of Education policy.
 

Duty of Care

The Principal (through his/her teaching staff) has a duty to take reasonable care for the safety and welfare of his/her students while those students are involved in school activities or present for the purpose of a school activity.
 
The Department of Education’s Duty of Care for Students policy for public schools provides that, in some cases, it may be appropriate to entrust the care of students to an external provider such as teaching artists without a teacher also being present.
 
Individual artists and arts and cultural organisations are advised to consult the policy to inform their future practice. The policy* document is available for download from the Department of Education’s website.
 
* The Excursion and Duty of Care policies are under review; artists and arts and cultural organisations are advised to check the Department of Education website regularly for updates.
 

Further reading: