Unions win pound;7m for school staff

9th April 2004 at 01:00
A teacher whose eardrum was perforated when a pupil threw a water-balloon at her was among hundreds of school staff to receive compensation totalling more than pound;7 million last year.

Britain's two biggest classroom unions won payouts for more than 400 teachers who were unfairly treated, injured or assaulted.

The biggest pay-out went to a 51-year-old science teacher who received nearly pound;278,000 after slipping on a wet floor at a Chesterfield secondary school.

The teacher, a member of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, had to retire on health grounds after the accident.

The teacher with the perforated eardrum also had to take ill-health retirement, quitting her Sheffield secondary because of anxiety.

The National Union of Teachers, which helped her to gain pound;25,517, said she had initially not reported the case to police because she feared it would disrupt the pupil's GCSEs.

Two other NUT members sat on chairs which collapsed beneath them, several tripped over carpets or in uneven playgrounds and one suffered an electric shock.

Details of personal and criminal injury cases as well as employment tribunals won by the two unions are revealed in reports to their annual conferences, which are due to start over the bank holiday weekend.

The NASUWT claimed more than pound;6m for its members, including personal injury payouts for 80 teachers totalling pound;1.6m and almost pound;2.5m in employment tribunal judgments. The NUT won personal injury and criminal injury compensation of more than pound;1m for 78 teachers. At least pound;39,000 was paid out following employment tribunals.

Members of the NASUWT now want compensation for teachers subjected to malicious allegations from pupils. Rising numbers of children are making false accusations. A total of 183 NASUWT members sought legal help after being accused of abusing pupils physically, verbally or sexually. Only one allegation has led to a conviction.

Malicious allegations were significantly higher than in 2002, when pupils made 157 claims against NASUWT members.

A motion to the union's annual conference in Llandudno urges it to fight for a legal change so that teachers can win compensation from pupils'

families in cases in which a child falsely accuses them of abuse.

The union's national executive intends to oppose this proposal.

Other issues due to be debated at the NASUWT conference include problems with six-term years, management bullying, key stage tests and pupil behaviour. The NUT conference in Harrogate will debate possible strike action to reinforce its opposition to teaching assistants taking classes.

Some trained teaching assistants will be able to supervise classes through the national workforce agreement agreed by the other teaching unions.

One reason teaching assistants may cover classes is to allow teachers non-contact time for planning, preparation and assessment.

The NUT's executive wants new laws to guarantee that the number of qualified teachers in each school takes into account the need to provide non-contact time.

doug mcavoy 11

TEACHERS' COMPENSATION AWARDS INCLUDED:

* A teacher in east London who was kicked and punched in the back by a four-year-old pupil: pound;1,650.

* A South-west teacher who will suffer from dermatitis for five years after using a whiteboard cleaning fluid. The bottle carried a warning, but the teacher had no instructions on how to use it and no gloves were provided: pound;4,250.

* A South-east teacher who claimed for negligence over an incorrect, unfair and misleading reference: pound;4,500.

* A deputy headteacher in the North who had part of a toe amputated after a "staging unit" fell on her foot: pound;11,500.

* A half-English, half-German teacher at a Plymouth secondary school who was assaulted in the school grounds by a pupil after she sent him to his head of house for disrupting her language class with racist taunts: pound;14,118.

* A teacher from the South-east who was assaulted by a pupil with a table-tennis bat: pound;50,000.

* A teacher who slipped on a wet floor in the toilets at a Grimbsy primary school and injured her right knee so badly that she took early retirement: pound;108,000.

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