Compensation claims result in over £16m paid out to teachers

TEACHERS have been paid compensation of more than £16m - including £1.5m paid out to staff in Yorkshire - in the past year for successful claims including unfair dismissal, personal injuries and criminal assault.

Picture: PA

The NASUWT union said six-figure sums were brokered for those on the end of the worst treatment, with a 59-year-old teacher from London receiving £185,000 after she slipped a disc in her back when she was knocked to the ground twice in a week by two unruly pupils.

A member of teaching staff in North Wales, 55, was given a £100,000 compensation package when he banged his head on a concrete floor as the chair he sat on collapsed. It was later discovered that three bolts were missing from the furniture.

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There were also examples of teachers receiving smaller payouts due to accidents in the workplace, including a £55,000 package for a female member of staff in the north west of England who tripped on a tear in the lino surface of her science classroom. She was later diagnosed with chronic back syndrome.

The NASUWT teaching union said it secured a total of £16,077,328.53 from teachers’ employers for its members during the last 12 months.

Union general secretary Chris Keates said many of the injuries would be reduced if more employers “took the welfare of staff seriously” and followed good health and safety practices.

She said: “The consequence of negligence is careers, lives and health blighted and millions of pounds of public money spent in compensation.

“Unfortunately, there is no incentive for employers to take health and welfare seriously when they witness the Government cutting funding for inspection and failing to take steps to secure compliance with the law. Failure to respect the rights of employees and to comply with employment law is also prevalent. Employers flout the law, but it’s the teachers and the taxpayers who pay the price.

“While compensation is important, it can never make up for the fact that teachers suffer permanent physical and mental injury and often cannot continue in their chosen career.” The NASUWT, which starts its annual conference today, has also released figures showing that children as young as seven have been caught sexting by their teachers, with more than half of all school staff in the UK aware of pupils using social media to share sexual messages, pictures and videos.

A study by the union found half its members discovered negative or abusive comments about them on social media - including posting doctored images to make them look like Islamic State ringleader Jihadi John, being falsely called a paedophile, and receiving rape threats.

Almost one-third (31 per cent) saw a photo or video of them taken without consent, while almost one-tenth (nine per cent) experienced threatening behaviour.

The survey also revealed pupils used Facebook to get in contact with 60 per cent of NASUWT members, while 15 per cent used Twitter to send them a message.

One-third of teachers said they did not report the personal abuse, with half of them saying they feared nothing could be done.

Ms Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, said: “Over the three years the NASUWT has been running this survey the situation has deteriorated.”