When it comes to private tuition, parents and students may seek to apportion blame for a failure to reach a desired outcome. To some people, blame equals compensation. Nowadays, rather than accepting any personal responsibility, people are encouraged to search for someone else to blame for their misfortunes. Here are some examples of the kinds of professional indemnity claims that could arise:
Blamed for poor grade – You undertake a series of private lessons to prepare a student for an upcoming examination. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, the student fails to achieve the required standard and does not get the grade expected. The student’s parents allege that you did not adequately prepare him technically and emotionally for the examination. They claim that the failure to achieve the desired grade is due to neglect on your part and demand a refund of tuition fees and compensation for emotional distress.
Alleged lack of supervision – You are coaching a sports team when one of the students gets injured. The parents of the injured child allege that you failed in your duty of care and did not maintain adequate discipline in the group. They claim that it was a lack of class control and/or supervision which resulted in the injury and make a claim for compensation.
Failure to check medical condition – You are taking a private sports lesson when a pupil suffers an asthma attack which leads to a period of hospitalisation. The child’s parents claim that you failed to take adequate precautions and did not recognise the problem soon enough. They seek compensation for suffering and emotional distress.
Wrong syllabus used – You provide private foreign language tuition to a pupil in preparation for “A” level examinations. Part of this preparation includes working through past papers and practising for an oral examination. The pupil fails one of the written examinations and it subsequently transpires that the past papers used for pre-exam preparation were from a different examining body which had a slightly different syllabus. The pupil and her parents allege that the preparation was inappropriate and inadequate and hold you liable for the failure to pass the exam. They demand a refund of fees and compensation.
Text not on syllabus – You are tutoring some students in English literature and have been covering various texts which form part of the syllabus. A few weeks prior to the examinations, you realise that one of the plays you have been studying is no longer on the syllabus- you had originally referred to an out of date list in error. You quickly correct the error but the students are left with a very short timescale to cover the correct text. Two of the students issue a claim against you seeking compensation and recovery of tuition fees.
In our compensation culture it seems all mishaps are considered to be avoidable. What might once have been dismissed as an unfortunate accident can now lead to an immediate claim for compensation. The risks may be slight but they are there:
Damaged Piano – Whilst teaching piano lessons at a student’s private home, you place a hot mug of coffee on the piano and find that the heat has damaged the instrument. You are expected to pay for repairs.
Smashed Ornament – Whilst teaching in a student’s private home, you accidentally knock over a valuable ornament. The parents ask you to pay the costs of replacement.
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