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£10,000 for Teaching Assistant after Classroom Assault

06 June 2015

Slater and Gordon Solicitor was instructed by a Teaching Assistant who was assaulted while carrying out her duties.

Slater and Gordon Solicitor: An Associate Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Case Value: £10,000

What happened: 

The client worked at a Behavioural Improvement unit run by her employer, the London Borough of Newham.

The unit catered for pupils of primary school age who, for various reasons, had been excluded from mainstream education, as well as children diagnosed with specific conditions such as autism and ADHD.

One of the school’s pupils was known for some time to have exhibited challenging behaviour to the extent that the client had warned senior management at the unit that he was potentially dangerous, not only to members of staff, but also to other vulnerable children of a similar age.

The boy’s behaviour included disrupting classes, exposing himself to other children, and making sexual noises. On the date in question, his behaviour resulted in him being removed to a place of safety where he could be adequately controlled until he was safely able to return to class.

The client did what she could to calm the situation down, but when the pupil reacted aggressively following his removal from class, she was punched and bitten on the arm, and struck several times on the head. As a result, she was left concussed with injuries behind her ears and scratch marks to her arms.

Impact: 

Understandably, the client found the entire episode extremely distressing, particularly having to attend hospital where she was given a precautionary hepatitis vaccination. Subsequently, she was unable to return to her role as a teaching assistant over the ensuing months due to the psychological impact of the incident. 

As the Solicitor said, “What was particularly sad about this case is the fact that although my client made a gradual recovery, she then had to leave the teaching profession and her work with disadvantaged young children – work that she saw as her vocation - because this incident proved so traumatic for her." 

How Slater and Gordon helped: 

Our Solicitor contended that his client’s employer had failed in several respects to provide her with a safe place of work and prevent her from sustaining injury.

They were able to highlight that his client had received no training on how to de-escalate and handle such volatile situations and, despite her requesting to undergo such training, this was never arranged.

Although risk assessments regarding the pupil had previously flagged up a number of risks posed by him, including physical attacks against staff, our Solicitor was able to show that no effective strategy for dealing with him was ever implemented.

Furthermore, there was no generic risk assessment in respect of the risk he posed generally to staff, which should properly have covered measures such as training. Other issues highlighted included - whether the unit was the appropriate place for the pupil, and what measures could have been taken after he had attacked his first teaching assistant to prevent a similar event from re-occurring.

Decision: 

Liability was initially denied but after the Solicitor clearly laid out the his client's case in Court documents, an offer was made to the client to the sum of £10,000.

The client accepted this offer as she was happy this represented a reasonable amount to compensate for her financial losses, physical injuries and emotional distress arising from the incident.

Related practice area: 

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