Education International
Education International

UK teachers awarded millions in compensation

published 19 April 2011 updated 20 May 2011

The NASUWT, one of the largest teacher unions in the UK, has secured millions of pounds in compensation for its members who suffered accidents, assaults and injuries suffered on school grounds in 2010.

The NASUWT union confirmed that its members have received more than £10.5m in compensation, which represents a 20 per cent increase on the previous year’s figure.

Cases include that of one teacher who received £200,000 after slipping on food and leaving him unable to work.

NASUWT general secretary, Chris Keates, said: “the level of compensation is no cause for celebration. What this figure illustrates is the cost to the public purse of employers’ poor or discriminatory employment practices and failure to pay due regard to health and safety in the workplace.

“Behind each of these cases is a person whose life has been changed through serious injury or unfair dismissal from their chosen career. Compensation is important but it is cold comfort if your health is irreparably damaged or your professional career has ended.”

NASUWT Deputy General Secretary and EI Executive Board member, Dr. Patrick Roach, said: “The fact is that the Coalition Government’s determination to deregulate and remove already inadequate protections for working people, compensation claims will undoubtedly rise in the future.

“If the government is genuinely concerned about value for money and high quality public services they should be investigating and addressing poor employment practices that lead to unfair and unsafe treatment of teachers.”

Other cases highlighted include a 49-year-old from the West Midlands who received a settlement of £100,000 after suffering from a compressed disc in her back when she slipped on spilt food in the school's lunch hall.

Another NASUWT member received £80,000 after slipping in a school dining room, fracturing bones in her leg, tearing ligaments behind her knee and damaging nerves. She was unable to return to teaching.

The biggest single out-of-court settlement awarded to an NASUWT member for a personal injury claim in 2010 was £292,795 which covered loss of earnings and pension. This was awarded to a 40-year-old who tripped on a pothole in a school car park, injuring his back. He had to undergo surgery and has been unable to return to work. The union’s evidence showed that the school was aware of littering problems around the school but had not taken action to prevent or minimise it.

In an assault case, £202,108 was received by a 51-year-old who was injured in November 2004 as she tried to stop a fight between two pupils. One of the pupils attacked her and she suffered injuries to her back and shoulder. She also developed mental anxiety and was unable to return to work.

In employment claims, the NASUWT union obtained a settlement of £35,417 for a 50-year-old teacher in the North West, after unfair dismissal following gender reassignment steps.

The NASUWT’s Annual Conference will be held in Glasgow’s SEC Centre from 22-25 April.