THE annual conference of the NASUWT opens in Birmingham today with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi becoming the first ever recipient of a new International Solidarity Award .
TEACHERS won millions of pounds in compensation last year after accidents, injuries, assaults and discrimination at school, new figures show.
In one case, a teacher was awarded more than £222,000 after suffering a brain injury when a pupil hit a bus door against her head.
Another was given almost £175,000 after being punched in the head by the parent of a pupil.
Others were given settlements of thousands of pounds after tripping or slipping at school, the figures show.
The NASUWT teaching union alone secured £12.6m last year, almost a 20 per cent increase on the 2010 figure of £10.5m. This is for claims including personal and criminal injury, unfair dismissal and employment cases.
Their largest out-of-court personal injury settlement was for a teacher in the North West who slipped on mud, which was the result of building work, during a fire drill, and hurt her back. The woman was awarded £158,000.
A teacher at a primary school for children with special needs was awarded £74,689 after an aggressive parent threatened her while she was alone in a classroom. She had a psychiatric breakdown, ending her 32-year teaching career.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Employers who deliberately flout the law are not only causing distress, ill-health and job loss, they are costing taxpayers millions of pounds.
“Behind each of these cases is a person whose life has been damaged through serious injury or unfair dismissal from their chosen career. Compensation is important but it is cold comfort when they have lost their job, or their mental or physical health is irreparably damaged.”
The National Union of Teachers does not release an overall figure for the amount of compensation won on behalf of its members. One of its members from the Midlands was awarded £21,289 after falling over a bag of balls, injuring her hip, while another got an £11,000 settlement after a large interactive whiteboard fell on her head, leaving her with a head injury that caused continuing headaches and dizziness.
A teacher from the North slipped on a book that was hidden by a floor mat, fracturing her right elbow and wrist. Her case was settled for £25,674 and costs.
And a teacher in the South of England was given £7,000 after being scalded by a kettle knocked over by a colleague.
One of the NUT’s largest settlements was for the teacher in the eastern region, working at a school for pupils with learning and behavioural problems, who suffered a brain injury after a bus door was hit against her head.
She was awarded £222,215 for injuries, loss of earnings and future losses.
In a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) case, an NUT member from the Midlands was awarded £172,676 after being punched in the head by a pupil’s parent.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said it achieved more than £4.5m for its members in compromise agreements last year, and around £800,000 for injured members and their families.
Today it has also emerged that more than two fifths of supply teachers say they are being used to cover the lessons of badly-behaved pupils,
A poll announced by the NASUWT union on the first day of their annual conference suggests it is inexperienced supply teachers who are most likely to say that they are asked to take these classes.
It also reveals concerns among supply staff about the lack of work available to them, with many being forced to claim benefits.
The survey, which questioned nearly 900 UK supply teachers, found that 42 per cent say they feel they are used to cover the lessons of more difficult pupils. This rose to almost half among those who had been teaching up to two years.