Teacher wins £850k settlement following classroom assault

A teacher who was assaulted by a student has been awarded £850,000 in compensation following a personal injury claim, his union has reported.

The teacher, who remains anonymous, was punched in the face and kicked by the pupil during a science lesson at his school in London.

He sustained numerous physical and psychological injuries as a result of the attack, including a head injury, tinnitus, hearing loss, bruising and back and ankle injuries, as well as PTSD and severe depressive disorder.

At the time of the incident, in January 2017, the pupil was not supposed to be attending the teacher's lessons due to previous disruptive and violent behaviour.

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The teacher has been unable to work since the attack, and medical experts have concluded the impact of his injuries means he is unlikely to ever be able to return to work as a teacher.

The second-largest teachers' union in the country, the NASUWT, brought the personal injury claim on his behalf.

The union detailed the case at its Annual Conference held over the Easter weekend as part of a yearly round-up of successful litigation it has pursued on behalf of its members.

In another case, £79,853 was secured for a drama teacher from Wales who was dismissed from her job after developing life-threatening asthma.

The teacher developed late-onset asthma following a refurbishment of her classroom. She suffered from headaches, a runny nose, coughing and wheezing before eventually being taken to hospital after suffering an asthma attack at school.

Her asthma and an unrelated scheduled operation in late 2018 led to unavoidable absences from work. However, by the time she was informed she was being dismissed, her asthma was under control.

The union succeeded in bringing claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: "While compensation is recognition of the personal, and in some cases, financial loss that members have suffered, it can never make up for the impact which unfair treatment, discrimination and physical injuries have on individuals.

"The money awarded cannot compensate for the emotional, physical and mental distress members have experienced and the fact that for some, their experiences have left them unable to continue working in teaching.

"Furthermore, these cases are only likely to represent the tip of the iceberg. There is no doubt that many other teachers will have been driven out of the profession without proper redress for poor, discriminatory or unfair treatment because they were too fearful to come forward or believed nothing could be done."

Dr Roach added: "Too many employers believe they can act with impunity as the Government fails to take any action to secure compliance with employment law or health and safety legislation, allowing poor employment practices to flourish.

"The NASUWT will continue to take all steps necessary to support our members in ensuring they are treated fairly at work and to underline to employers that they are not above the law."

Adam Carey

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