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Mail compensation claims II – sour grapes

April 16, 2011

Here’s a story from the Mail that could well be receiving the Littlejohn com-pen-say-shun treatment soon:

Massive payouts!  For slipping on grapes, and having rulers waved at them!  Those teachers’ll do anything for easy money, won’t they?  I mean, they already get really long holidays, finish work at 3:30 every day, and get paid LOADS of money for their cushy job (***DISCLAIMER*** Paraphrasing one of the commenters, who said, “Teachers are all on the the ‘money for nothing’ bandwagon that’s why they are teachers, wouldn’t survive in the private sector, all them holidays finishing at 3:30 still complaining, more pay? For what marking an essay, wake up!” [sic]).  Damn that ‘money for nothing’ bandwagon.  I’ll bet those children could teach themselves.  Why do they need degree-qualified teachers anyway?  All that subject knowledge, lesson planning, taking marking home at evenings and weekends, after school activity organising, paperwork completing, data tracking, pastoral care giving, etc, etc – it’s just money for nothing.

Moving away from the sarcasm and onto the rhetorical question, does the headline stand up to scrutiny?  Let’s start with the, “£200k for slipping on a grape!”  The Mail says;

A teacher won £200,000 in compensation last year after slipping on a grape which was left on a stairwell.

He was awarded the six-figure sum after aggravated an existing hernia problem as he fell. He was eventually unable to work because of chronic pain.

£200,000 for being unable to work following an accident, then, rather than for actually slipping on a grape.

How about the teacher given £459k for being, “confronted by a pupil wielding a RULER”?

In the biggest claim, a teacher confronted by a pupil wielding a one metre ruler was awarded £459,000.

The youngster spun round and pushed the teacher on to a filing cabinet, which had handles sticking out, as she tried to restrain him after he had been threatening classmates.

The worker severely injured her back and, despite an operation, her condition deteriorated and she became wheelchair-bound.

Her union revealed she was only able to return to work part-time following the incident in 2002 which was only settled last year.

Ah, I see.  The ruler was a metre rule, not a thirty centimetre long shatterproof plastic one as implied, and the pupil physically assaulted the teacher as she tried to protect her other students.  Waiting nine years to be awarded £459,000 for being physically attacked and ending up in a wheelchair doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous as the headline suggests.

Further examples are given, throughout the article, of teachers who have suffered other significant, serious injuries caused by accidents or assaults, and also a teacher who was unfairly dismissed following what the Mail calls, “gender reassignment steps.”  Towards the end of the article, Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT is quoted as saying;

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.

It’s a shame her point is buried towards the end of the piece, where it’s likely to be overlooked by anyone who didn’t read the whole thing.  Still, we know the Mail isn’t fond of compensation claims or teachers ( or any public sector worker, really), so shouldn’t be too surprised when it uses the tried and trusted formula of printing a huge, misleading headline, which doesn’t stand up to the most cursory of glances at the text.  It’s a depressingly commonplace tabloid tactic, one that is allowed by the PCC because headlines are viewed as ‘editorial space.’  I doubt this is something that will change any time soon.

However, it’s always a comfort when some of the commenters see through the bullshit, so, to close this post, here’s a selection of the ones that cheered me up:

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