A 44-year-old teaching assistant has been awarded thousands of pounds in compensation after an attack by one of her students left her on crutches and in 'chronic pain'.
Aleksandra Aukett sued the London Borough of Hillingdon, the local authority responsible for overseeing the school at which she was teaching, this week after the incident in 2017 saw a five-year-old 'punch, pinch and kick' her.
The student, who was in reception at the time, was described as being 'big for his age' and became physical with the teacher as she tried to keep the classroom in order.
Five years on, Aukett appeared on crutches at Central London County Court where she described 'life-changing' chronic pain she suffered as a result of the attack, which left her with multiple soft tissue injuries and long-term inflammation.
The teaching assistant claimed the London Borough of Hillingdon should have done more to protect her in the workplace and was ultimately awarded £140,338 in compensation, as well as money to pay her lawyers' bills.
Aukett's barrister, Gemma Witherington, told Judge Richard Roberts the teaching assistant had been 'acting in the course of her employment when she was attacked by a child known as X'.
"He had attacked another child and she removed the other children from the room to safety when X launched himself at her in the corridor and punched her in the chest and pinched her. He then kicked her in the hip and groin and legs," she said.
Witherington said Aukett accepted that the child had learning difficulties and a 'difficult background', but stressed the incident was 'a very nasty assault which had physical and mental health consequences for her'.
She also claimed none of Aukett's colleagues had warned her about the young boy's 'violent tendencies' despite him having a record for 'physically assaulting other pupils and staff'.
"If Ms Aukett had known about X's condition/behaviour and/or had relevant training, then it was more likely than not that she could have taken steps to avoid the attack."
Lawyers for the London Borough of Hillingdon argued Aukett had been trained in how to restrain pupils and de-escalate incidents, with council barrister Roderick Abbott stressing the authority did everything in its power to safeguard staff and pupils.
He also drew attention to a risk assessment carried out on the five-year-old which highlighted a risk of potential hazards, including 'throwing items and risk of injury to staff or other pupils'.
Abbott also claimed it would have been 'impossible for Ms Aukett to be unaware of X's behaviour'.
Aukett, who has not yet returned to work, told the court she still has a lump and swelling around her hip from the attack and that she has yet to return to work.
Medical experts described the 44-year-old as having been resilient and cheerful prior to the assault but said she is now plagued by chronic back pain, PTSD and depression.
"I'm nowhere near the level of mobility, fitness and health I was at before the accident," Aukett added.
Following the reward of compensation, Aukett said she was 'looking forward to opening a new chapter' in her life.
Words by: Emily Brown