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Abuse in schools by teachers

A school should be a place for pupils to feel safe and create the perfect environment to help children and young people flourish. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and children have suffered abuse from the very people who have a duty of care and are supposed to be looking after their best interests: teachers, assistants and other school staff.

Abuse takes place in all types of schools including: public, state, faith and special schools. Abuse can include physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

All schools are expected to have sufficient safeguarding procedures to prevent abuse by school employees. Over the years we have heard many accounts of children being abused in the education sector. By now it would be hoped that lessons had been learnt, and sufficient safeguarding procedures put into place to prevent history from repeating itself.

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If you’ve experienced sexual abuse in any form, you have every right to make a claim for damages, and we’re here to advise and support you through the legal process. We will:

  • Speak to you in confidence
  • Listen and advise
  • Welcome a friend or family member to be with you
  • Only do what you ask us to do

You are in control – you haven’t started a process you can’t stop.

If you have suffered school abuse from a teacher or staff member

If you are a survivor of teacher sexual abuse or abuse from a school staff member whilst attending school, even if a long time ago, you should report it to the police.

It is also important to get in contact with the available help and support services who can offer free counselling and other advice on all sexual abuse cases. See below for a list of recommended support services.

How we can help

If you were sexually abused whilst a pupil at school, contact us for free initial advice. The school abuse could have happened at a state, private or public school. You might be able to claim compensation for the physical and psychological harm you suffered.

You may be able to bring a claim against the person who abused you or against the local authority in the case of a state school, or the owners of the private or public school. Many schools are insured and so the claim may be handled on their behalf by the insurers. This will depend very much on the circumstances of your case.

Our team of specialist lawyers offer survivors ongoing support throughout their case when dealing with abuse against teachers and other staff members.

Client, sexual abuse at school survivor:

Thank you for all your hard work in this case. As you said at the beginning, there wasn’t much hope of a settlement from Jersey, and I felt that this was the case too knowing Jersey as I do.

I can now look forward to getting some treatment for my PTSD and try to move on in life, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without your help.

I cannot thank you enough.

Key contact

Alan Collins


Alan Collins is one of the best known and most experienced solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals.  Alan has represented interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).

Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

Case studies

Abuse from secondary school teacher

We represented a woman who had been sexually assaulted and groomed by her school teacher throughout her secondary school years. This had impacted her education greatly and delayed her career.

The school in question had been aware of previous inappropriate behaviour by the said teacher but allowed him to remain in his position of trust. The client disclosed the abuse whilst she remained a pupil, however the school did not report this to the police.

The claim was brought outside of the limitation period; however, we were able to progress the claim swiftly without needing to issue court proceedings.

We secured a settlement for our client, to reflect her psychological injury and loss of earnings from a delay in her career.

Student harassed by university lecturer

We represented a university student who had been harassed by her lecturer over a 6 month period in the form of text messages. Our client felt unable to concentrate on her studies and feared she would be sexually assaulted. This greatly impacted her studies and mental health.

The university had completed an internal investigation on receipt of our client’s formal complaint, but the tutor remained employed with the university and our client felt she had no option but to end her studies and leave the university.

The university in question on receipt of our letter of claim, settled our client’s claim for damages including a full refund of her tuition fees she had paid for the course.

This was a fantastic result for our client and a recognition by the university that they had failed our client.

Your questions answered

Sexual abuse includes any form of unwanted touching, as well as name calling or internet contact, or using sex as a way of causing pain or humiliation. It can be a one-off occurrence or carry on over a period of time. It might have happened earlier in your life or still be happening now. If you have suffered sexual abuse, or you suspect someone else is being sexually abused, you should report it to the police, even if it was a long time ago.

You can make a claim for sexual abuse compensation against an abuser, but also any organisation, institution or individual that failed in their duty of care to protect you from harm.

We’ll help you gather the evidence you need to make a claim. To help, you should try to preserve all the evidence as best you can. Photograph injuries, print off internet logs, keep soiled clothing safe in a freezer bag, and keep details of all doctor’s or hospital visits. Get the names and addresses of people who could be witnesses, including people you told about the abuse.

The courts know that abuse doesn’t always happen in public, and that there may be no witnesses. In many cases, your description of the sexual abuse may be enough to support a claim, particularly if other cases are reported. If there has been a criminal conviction, this will provide even greater grounds for claiming damages. But even if your abuser has been acquitted of all charges, it does not necessarily mean you can’t claim compensation.

The time limit for making a compensation claim is usually two years from the date the abuse took place. However, as these compensation claims are often sensitive, these times limits can often be extended, especially if there has been a recent police or other investigation. We can advise you on this.

There are different time limits, or limitation periods, for bringing a claim for compensation for sexual abuse suffered in childhood. Ordinarily, the time limit is three years from the survivor’s 18th birthday; so the claim should be brought before they reach the age of 21. Many if not the majority of claims are brought outside this time limit.

If the survivor is outside of the time limit for bringing a claim, it is possible to ask the court to waive the time limit or to extend it. Each request to waive the time limit is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, the courts are fully aware of the difficulties that survivors of sexual abuse have in disclosing abuse due to the trauma they suffered.

In most cases, you won’t. If a case had to go to court, we’d meet you in person to get your instructions, and do so in a place where you feel comfortable. You’d also have the chance to reconsider. If you wanted, we could arrange for you to give evidence by video.

Absolutely. You have a right to confidentiality, so no one else will know what we discuss unless you tell them.

We can represent you on a no win, no fee basis, so there’s no worry about having to pay. We’ll explain in detail how it works.

We’ll do only what you ask us to do – you’re always in control and can stop the process at any point.

Next steps

We’re here to get things moving. Drop a message to one of our experts and we’ll get straight back to you.

Call us: 033 3016 2222

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