Staff paid £20m for accidents and assaults

Teachers have won more than £20m in compensation in the past year as a result of assaults by pupils and accidents in the classroom.

The National Union of Teachers, whose annual conference opens in Torquay today, has dealt with 200 cases in the past year in which 53 teachers were injured. A further 76 cases involved criminal damages being sought after assaults.

In one case, a teacher won £459,000 in damages after a nine-year-old pupil shoved her against a filing cabinet. She suffered severe back injuries. The NUT's legal department said the boy was "wielding a metre rule and threatening classmates and refusing to put it down".

"As the member approached him, he spun round and pushed her on to a filing cabinet with protruding handles, severely injuring the member's back. The member had an immediate back operation but her condition deteriorated so she became wheelchair-bound and had to have considerable periods off work and a series of operations."

A Midlands teacher was assaulted by the parent of a pupil, who punched him in the head. He suffered both physical and psychological injuries as a result and was awarded £172,676 in criminal damages. Another teacher was injured when a pupil picked up a full bottle of water and threw it at her face, resulting in an eye injury. She was awarded £4,552.

A London secondary school teacher was injured when an interactive whiteboard fell on her head during a lesson. The board had been secured using inadequate screws. The teacher was awarded £11,000 in compensation.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said its members had received a record £12.6m in awards last year – an 11.9 per cent increase on the previous year. At the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the figure was £4.5m. The NUT would not give an overall figure but it is thought to be similar to that of the NASUWT.

Other cases dealt with by the NUT include a teacher who slipped on a grape on a stairwell and, as a result, had to have an operation for a hernia problem which had been aggravated by the fall. The teacher was awarded £200,000.

200

Cases dealt with by the NUT in the past year – in which 53 teachers were injured.

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