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Surge in payouts to injured teachers

Union leaders have blamed dilapidated school buildings and badly behaved pupils for the rise in compensation claims by teachers which last year resulted in more than pound;12 million in payouts.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers won total compensation of over pound;6.7 million for members - almost pound;700,000 more than the previous year. This included pound;1.2 million for personal injury claims for 89 teachers. One of the largest sums, pound;140,000, was for a member who tripped on an ill-fitting carpet in school. Another tripped on a step on the edge of a netball court while umpiring a match, and received Pounds 77,603.

Compensation also followed employment tribunals: two teachers won out-of-court settlements of more than pound;200,000 each for stress-related claims. A teacher assaulted in a secure unit won an estimated pound;250,000 following a trial but this award is now subject to appeal. A teacher who was injured when a pupil threw a stool at her, was awarded pound;155,030.

The National Union of Teachers claimed almost pound;2 million in 2004 for 200 injuries to members. Graham Clayton, NUT senior solicitor, said total payouts could reach pound;6 million when all claims are settled. He said the number of cases reflected the poor state of school buildings.

One head of technology in Worcestershire won pound;220,000 from the local council after contracting asthma due to breathing in wood and metal dust.

The family of a teacher secured pound;135,237 from a local council after she developed a mesothelioma and died following exposure to asbestos dust.

A music teacher in North East Lincolnshire, who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus following exposure to loud instruments, was paid pound;40,000.

Violent pupils caused a series of incidents. One Newcastle teacher won Pounds 5,000 after a pupil poured boiling water over him and a teacher from the South-east won pound;16,000 after almost being blinded when a pupil catapulted a rubber into her eye.

The biggest payout was for pound;232,500 when a teacher from the South-west fell from a ladder as he was moving lights for the school show.

The teacher was unable to return to work and cash covered loss of earnings, pension and care expenses. One teacher in a school in west London received pound;2,750 from her local authority after falling off a chair during a risk assessment meeting.

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