This is a case study of a successful teacher stress at work claim that our personal injury team recently made.
In readiness for some time off work for surgery our client, a secondary school teacher, prepared lesson plans and notes so that supply teachers could keep her students up to date and on target for their coursework. Unfortunately this did not happen and our client returned to work following her surgery to find her classes very behind. She had a “back to work” meeting with her deputy head and explained what had happened. She explained that she was struggling to get the students up to speed and needed extra support and assistance. Her plea for help was refused.
Our client did her best to bring the students up to date, including running extra lessons at lunchtimes and after school. However she was struggling and, again, asked the deputy head and then head teacher for support and assistance. It was not forthcoming.
As a complicating factor our client suffered from a longstanding heart condition which her employers knew of. This was exacerbated by stress and her blood pressure and heart rate became dangerously high. Our client saw her GP who warned her that she was showing signs of an impending stroke. Our client reported this to the head teacher, but again there was no support for her.
Our client continued to suffer and struggle. She was signed off for a spell with extremely high blood pressure. Despite this no adjustments (such as reduction of classes, allowing her some non-contact hours or extra support staff) were made.
Our client was again signed off sick by her GP. She had a further “return to work” interview when she explained that she could not cope with the workload and extra support was needed. Unfortunately, her plea for help was once again ignored.
Our client’s school had some difficulties with the behaviour of its students. These difficulties had been noted by Offsted. They had a system in place by which members of staff could call for help from others if they needed it.
When our client was threatened by students on two occasions the system failed and she was left unsupported and frightened for her own safety. This was the final straw for our client and she was unable to remain at work due to her psychological health.
It was against this background that our client contacted us. We agreed to investigate her stress at work claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.
We sent a formal letter of claim to the school. They responded by denying any wrongdoing. They specifically denied that our client had planned her lessons prior to her absence. They denied that she was refused adequate help and they denied that their system for summoning help was defective.
We gathered evidence about the lesson plans which proved that she had done what she said she had. We also managed to speak to two supportive witnesses who had worked at the school at the relevant time about the coursework investigation and the problems with the system for teachers to call for help.
Although the school continued to deny any wrongdoing, they nevertheless negotiated an out of court settlement of our client’s stress at work claim, agreeing to pay her a substantial sum of compensation.