Teaching assistant who exaggerated pupil attack loses negligence appeal
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A teaching assistant who exaggerated the extent of the injuries she suffered while restraining a disruptive six-year-old pupil has lost an appeal that the school had been negligent.
Sharon Durrant had made a claim over injuries to her left shoulder, chest and limbs, and for post-traumatic stress disorder, following the incident at Clover Hill VA Infant School and Nursery in Bowthorpe.
She had argued the school’s ‘Sunshine Room’, a calming-down area for disruptive children, was an unsafe place of work and that the school had not effectively operated systems for monitoring and management of difficult pupils.
She claimed that the upset boy should have been removed to ‘the Base’ - a special mobile classroom discipline facility at the neighbouring senior school, at some point before the incident.
A hearing in Norwich had found Norfolk County Council liable due to negligence for the injuries she sustained in the incident, which occurred in 2015.
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Following an appeal, the council has now successfully overturned the judgement at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
In her finding Honourable Mrs Justice Foster said that the earlier hearing had rejected a large part of Ms Durrant’s evidence, finding she had been “deliberately untruthful about her health”, and also about details of the incident.
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She had withdrawn claims she had fallen to the floor and that a fellow staff member had seen the attack and done nothing. She also falsely told her doctor she had been pushed against a pole and hit with shoes.
The judge had found her to be “significantly dishonest” and characterised her evidence as “muddled and unreliable”.
It added she had not been inadequately trained or managed by the school, which had been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for ‘leadership and management’ and ‘behaviour and safety of pupils’.
Upholding the council’s appeal, Mrs Justice Foster said: “I have come to the clear conclusion it is impossible logically to spell out a finding that any of the failures found were breaches of Norfolk County Council’s obligations to Ms Durrant or that such caused the damage whether directly or indirectly suffered.”