A teacher received a record £850,000 payout after being a seriously assaulted by a pupil, the NASUWT teachers’ union has revealed.
The union secured almost £15m in compensation for its members during 2021 it has stated, on the eve of its annual conference.
Payouts were awarded for claims relating to unfair dismissal, redundancy, discrimination, trade union-related detriment, performance management, bullying, contractual disputes, health and safety, unlawful deductions from wages and personal injury.
The teacher who received £850,000 is unlikely to ever be able to return to teaching after being seriously assaulted by a pupil.
He was punched in the face and kicked by the pupil during a science lesson at his school in London. At the time of the incident in January 2017 the pupil was not supposed to be attending the members’ lessons due to previous disruptive and violent behaviour.
The teacher said at the time: “Following a previous incident, the pupil was suspended for three days and I was reassured that they would no longer take part in my classes.”
But the pupil appeared in the science class on his return from suspension. The teacher, who has requested anonymity, said: “When I saw him at the beginning of class, I made the point that he shouldn’t be there and asked him to leave and he walked out and shut the door.”
The pupil then swiftly returned and assaulted the teacher.
Among the numerous physical and psychological injuries caused by the attack, which caused a significant head injury, were tinnitus, hearing loss, as well as PTSD and severe depressive disorder.
NASUWT brought a personal injury claim on his behalf and the settlement reflected the impact of the assault and the loss of income, the union said. The teacher worked for an academy chain whose insurers will foot the bill.
Among other payouts, £79,900 was secured for a drama teacher in Wales who was dismissed from her job after developing life-threatening asthma following the unsuccessful refurbishment of her classroom in 2013. Medical opinion agreed that the onset of her asthma was caused by working conditions, partly because mould was growing on the classroom walls and cracks had developed allowing damp in. One asthma attack led to her being hospitalised.
In 2019 she was informed she was to be dismissed from her employment because of her absences from work but by this time her working conditions had been altered and the asthma was under control. NASUWT 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.
“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.”