Payouts to teachers on the rise

Teachers were awarded tens of millions of pounds in compensation last year, after bringing claims for accidents, attacks and discrimination at work.

Teachers were awarded tens of millions of pounds in compensation in 2013
Teachers were awarded tens of millions of pounds in compensation in 2013

Figures show a surge in payouts to school staff, with the overall totals reaching record levels.

One 33-year-old West Midlands teacher received more than £300,000 in total after she was injured breaking up a fight between two pupils, whilst an East Midlands teacher got half a million pounds after being hurt in a plummeting lift.

Information obtained from three of the UK's largest unions show that a number of school staff were handed five or six-figure payouts, with figures indicating that the total amount paid out in compensation last year stretched to more than £40 million.

The NASUWT teaching union said it secured around £20.7 million for its members in 2013 - over 30% more than in 2012.

This included payouts for slips, trips and accidents at work, employment disputes and attacks by pupils.

The NASUWT's largest employment-related assault claim was for the West Midlands secondary school teacher who suffered injuries to her face, head, neck, right arm and shoulder after being assaulted by two pupils as she attempted to break up a fight between the pair. She received £113,905 in compensation, plus an additional £200,473 in a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) award.

A 33-year-old college teacher from the East Midlands was given a settlement of £500,000 after sustaining a back injury when a lift she was travelling in at work suddenly dropped from the mezzanine floor to the reception.

A third NASUWT member, from the South East, got a CICA compensation award worth £91,784 after being punched in the mouth by a Year 10 pupil. The 59-year-old suffered a broken root on a tooth and developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

The union's largest employment tribunal out-of-court settlement was £50,000 for a Welsh primary school teacher whose employer had failed to follow the right redundancy procedures, the NASUWT said.

General secretary Chris Keates said: "The tragedy is that in most cases compensation would be unnecessary if employers followed good employment practices and followed health and safety procedures.

"Instead teachers have their careers, lives and health blighted and millions of pounds of public money has to be spent.

"Employers flout the law, but it's the teachers and the taxpayers who pay the price."

She added: "It is deeply disturbing to note that instead of seeking to protect working people, the coalition Government is recklessly deregulating health and safety provisions, employment and equality legislation. Consequently, more of these cases will arise."

Information from the National Union of Teachers (NUT), shows that one of its members was awarded £79,415 after slipping on an icy ramp at school. As a result of the injury, the teacher was unable to drive to work and was sacked.

In another personal injury case, a secondary school teacher was awarded £110,000 after falling when her foot got caught in a deep pothole on the school's drive.

And in a CICA case, a teacher from the North West was handed £31,300 after being attacked by a pupil with a chair. She suffered psychological symptoms as well as bruising to her knee and a toe.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said it had achieved more than £4.6 million in compromise agreements, more than £180,000 for members who had lodged employment tribunal claims and nearly £500,000 for injured members and their families.