Beaten teacher gets pound;402,000

7th September 2007 at 01:00
A TEACHER has received a record pound;402,000 compensation payment after she was attacked and seriously injured by a pupil.

Authorities are making unprecedented payouts to teachers who have been hurt by violent teenagers. The National Union of Teachers, which negotiated the settlement with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, said the Staffordshire teacher is unable to teach after suffering serious back injuries when she was assaulted by a pupil in a secure unit. The award is close to the authority's maximum payout of pound;500,000.

Graham Clayton, the union's chief legal officer, said it was the biggest compensation payment the union had negotiated in recent years, but was "entirely justified" by the career-ending back injury the teacher suffered.

And in West Yorkshire, a 45-year-old teacher received pound;165,000 from Leeds City Council this year after being repeatedly injured breaking up fights in a rough inner-city school.

Speaking to The TES on a condition of anonymity, the Leeds teacher said she had been forced out of a job she loved by the school's failure to protect staff and pupils.

"It's hard when you've had the confidence knocked out of you mentally and physically," she said.

The Government this week gave heads new powers to hold parents accountable for children's behaviour. They can apply directly to the courts for parenting orders.

Last year, 740 children were expelled for assaulting adults, and another 8,240 were temporarily excluded. Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said: "I understand the concern of parents and will not allow troublemakers to disrupt the education of others."

Schools reported one fatal injury and 1,940 serious injuries to teaching professionals last year, Health and Safety Executive figures show.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the union which negotiated the Leeds teacher's compensation, said teachers felt obliged to step in and break up fights so that children were not injured.

"It's still only a tiny minority of children, but teachers are vulnerable," Ms Keates said. The Leeds teacher suffered shoulder injuries and a cracked right eye socket in six assaults by pupils, as she tried to restrain them or break up fights.

The attacks came towards the end of a 20-year teaching career, in which she was promoted to become a senior teacher earning pound;42,000 a year. Most of that time was at Matthew Murray High School, a troubled comprehensive spiralling downwards into special measures.

The teacher said that gangs of white, Pakistani and Bangladeshi boys clashed in the corridors and playground. The last straw was when a group of white boys, chasing a group of Pakistani boys, trapped one 13-year old and began punching him in the face. The teacher had been told not to intervene but could not help herself.

"It sounded like the bone was crunching," she said. "As a rational adult and a teacher, how can you stand and watch? Your natural instinct is to protect someone."

Accepting she would never teach again, Leeds City Council paid her Pounds 165,000 compensation so the case was not taken to court. Matthew Murray High School has now merged with another school.

The teacher has found a pound;15,500 a year job working for an industry association, but said she missed teaching. "I was damn good at the job," she said. "I know I did a good job in difficult circumstances."

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said staff were trained to defuse situations. "We work closely with schools and unions to protect and support our colleagues and improve behaviour management," he said.

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