Teachers awarded tens of millions of pounds in injury and discrimination payouts


Tens of millions of pounds in compensation was paid out to teachers last year after staff suffered serious and long-term injuries and discrimination in the line of work, new figures show.

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.

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 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."

Separate data from the NUT, which keeps its overall compensation figures private, said there were two cases of personal injury compensation paid to its members last year.

One included a £46,000 payout to a teacher who suffered "severe psychological injury" following "a sustained campaign of bullying and harassment by senior leadership".

Another NUT member was awarded just under £4,500 after she fractured a finger on a defective doorknob, causing her long-term aches and a deformity.

The union said it offered legal help in 130 cases last year, including 71 involving criminal activity, 57 in employment cases.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said it secured more than £5 million for members in compromise agreements, almost £400,000 for members who lodged employment tribunal claims and nearly £900,000 for injured members and their families.

The figures were published on the first day of the NUT and the NASUWT's annual spring conferences, in Brighton and Birmingham, respectively.

The ATL's will be held next weekend in Liverpool.