A SCHOOLTEACHER has been left with life-changing injuries after an attack by a pupil.

Craig Hearne, a 52-year-old design and technology teacher, was attacked by a pupil at Queenswood School near Ledbury in January 2020.

It left him with permanent nerve damage to his face and caused ongoing psychological injuries.

Ledbury Reporter: Craig Hearne was left with permanent nerve damageCraig Hearne was left with permanent nerve damage (Image: Thompsons Solicitors)

The incident occurred when the pupil swung a catering lid at Mr Hearne, severely injuring his neck.

Mr Hearne, from Hengoed, was taken to A&E then referred to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff for specialist treatment.

Doctors confirmed he had suffered a deep cut of his neck, resulting in permanent nerve damage. He was unable to work for a month afterwards.

Now, after discussions involving his employer Aspris Children’s Services and the NASUWT union, Mr Hearne has secured what law firm Thompsons Solicitors calls a "significant compensation settlement".

Ledbury Reporter: Queenswood School near LedburyQueenswood School near Ledbury (Image: Google Maps)

The incident left Mr Hearne suffering with sleepless nights and ongoing psychological trauma. As a result, Thompsons arranged psychological support services for Mr Hearne.

The assault also resulted in a permanent loss of sensation on the right side of his face, leaving him unable to ride a motorcycle as he struggles to put a helmet on.

Queenswood is an independent school for children and young people (aged 11-19) with social, emotional, and mental health difficulties. 

Mr Hearne said the incident was not an isolated one and that he was angry his concerns about this particular pupil "were not adequately addressed by the school".

“The safety of staff members appears to be secondary to the money they can make from school fees," he said. "That can’t be right.

“I hope by taking this action, robust behavioural procedures will be implemented and strictly adhered to, so that others won’t have to endure the physical and psychological distress that I have had to experience."

Caragh Hogan, a lawyer at Thompsons Solicitors, said: ”I cannot begin to imagine what our client has been through over the past four years.

“He’s been left with life-changing physical injuries and is still dealing with the psychological trauma as a result of this attack. His employers failed to address staff concerns and implement behavioural procedures that dealt with the risk posed by the pupil.

“We hope this settlement can provide Mr Hearne with some closure, so that he can begin to move on with his life.”

A spokesperson for Queenswood School said: “We support young people with a range of complex social, emotional and mental health difficulties, meaning that colleagues may experience challenging behaviour on occasion. We have robust procedures in place to minimise the risks this presents and encourage staff to follow them at all times. 

"In this instance, three witnesses said the incident was not foreseeable and there is no evidence to suggest there had been assaults earlier in the day.

"We elected to settle the staff member’s injury claim out of court by offering a modest sum of compensation in recognition of the injury he suffered, as in our view it was the fair thing to do.

"The incident was fully investigated and we are confident that appropriate measures were in place to avoid such an incident if they were followed correctly. 

"We strongly challenge any suggestion that finances are prioritised ahead of the safety of our dedicated and valued colleagues who consistently deliver incredible support to the young people entrusted into our care, and note that the majority of fees received from the Local Authorities who fund the placements are spent on staffing in the school.”