Chalk Talk: Not even the unions will allow us to escape this Royal wedding

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The Independent Online

Sad to note that the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has shied away from going head to head with the Royal wedding for news coverage a week on Friday.

For journalists with republican tendencies, it was a good ready-made excuse to get out of helping out with the coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials. It would have been easy to tell the news editor: "Sorry, I'd love to help you, but there's this press briefing on the biggest headteachers' union's conference which I really can't miss!"

It would also have carried on a long tradition of mine with Royal weddings – go and immerse myself in the proceedings of a trade union. OK, I'm cheating a bit – the last time, with Charles and Di's wedding in 1981, it was the opening of the Professional Association of Teachers' conference – the no-strike union – and it ensured a break in conference procedure so delegates could watch the happy (?) couple on television.

This time, though, there is no chance. The briefing has been put back to Saturday lunchtime when it clashes only with Football Focus.

* It's that time of year again when details emerge of all the compensation deals negotiated for teachers as a result of a range of accidents suffered in schools – courtesy of the teachers' unions' annual reports.

This year, the three big unions – the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers – netted their members a record £20m in deals. Pride of place has to go to the NUT member awarded £200,000 in compensation after slipping on a grape.

One shouldn't be too flippant, though. The teacher concerned fell down a stairwell which aggravated a hernia problem and he was unable to work because of chronic pain. What does not emerge from the report, though, is whether the grape was left there on purpose or not.

The report also covers cases of compensation for assaults on teachers. The biggest award – of £459,000 – went to a female teacher in London who was left confined in a wheelchair and unable to work after attempting to restrain a nine-year-old.

The boy was threatening the class with a ruler. When she approached him, he pushed her backwards on to a filing cabinet with protruding handles. That's ammunition to use when anybody pipes up about what an easy life those teachers have with all those long holidays.