Slips, hits and writs: teachers win pound;20m

15th April 2011 at 01:00

A teacher awarded pound;200,000 after slipping on a discarded grape was among school staff to win more than pound;20 million in compensation claims last year, documents reveal.

Hundreds of teachers won payouts after suffering injuries, being the victims of criminal attacks and in compromise agreements when leaving their posts, figures show. The final total could be considerably higher as details of only a selection of cases have been released.

The NUT member who slipped on the grape, which had been left on a stairwell, won the six-figure sum because it aggravated a hernia problem and eventually led to him being unable to work because of chronic pain.

"Evidence showed that the school were aware of littering problems around the school but had not taken action to prevent or minimise it," the NUT said. The payout covered loss of earnings and pension.

In a separate case, another NUT teacher won pound;20,000 when she fractured her hip after slipping on a grape in a corridor - the school was liable because it did not operate a proper system for clearing the floor after lunchtime breaks.

The biggest single pay-out published by the NUT was pound;459,000 that went to a female teacher in London who was left confined to a wheelchair and unable to work after she was injured restraining a nine-year-old pupil.

The child was threatening classmates with a ruler. When approached by his teacher, he pushed her backwards on to a filing cabinet with protruding handles, severely injuring her back, the NUT said. The incident happened in 2002, but the payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) was only agreed last year.

A teacher at a residential boys' school won more than pound;426,000 after being sprayed in the face with an aerosol by a pupil. They suffered from "severe breathing difficulties" that required "various operations" and also suffered depression and anxiety, the NUT said. The member was awarded more than pound;253,000 from the CICA and a further pound;173,000 for future loss of earnings.

An experienced primary head received pound;407,000 when she developed a severe psychiatric illness after her employers failed to support her when she suffered at the hands of abusive and aggressive governors. She won her case at the High Court after retiring on health grounds.

The NUT, which does not release figures for the overall amount won for members, secured around pound;2.5 million-worth of claims in 2010 for which it has published details.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said it had won pound;4 million in compromise agreements for members, and pound;1 million in injuries claims in 2010. The NASUWT said it expected to win "slightly more" in 2010 than the pound;9 million for criminal injuries and other compensation claims it secured in 2009, although figures have not yet been finalised.

The Association of School and College Leaders said it had dealt with a similar number of cases during 2010, but the total won in compromise agreements may be lower than 2009's pound;4 million because of tighter budgets.

Slipping on a grape: pound;200,000

Sprayed in face with aerosol: pound;426,000

Staple gun fired in face: pound;3,500

Reclaimed docked pay after volcanic ash delay

OTHER AWARDS

- Staple gun fired in teacher's face at school for children with behavioural problems: pound;3,500

- Autistic pupil punched teacher in the head, causing whiplash and migraines: pound;5,610

- Injury to arm and hand in coach crash while on school trip: pound;375,000

- Docked pay reclaimed after teacher was stranded by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.

- Stabbing injury to the hand from knife sticking up out of a dishwasher in the staff room: pound;4,500.

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