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Trip over a maypole wins Miss pound;165,000 damages

A teacher who won pound;165,000 after tripping over a maypole is among school staff who have been awarded a total of more than pound;20 million for work-related injuries and employment disputes in the past year.

The Dorset teacher won the money after the pole - used for traditional rural dances - fell out of a PE locker, causing her to trip and seriously injure her left foot.

Another teacher hurt his back when the trampoline he was on collapsed beneath him as he was demonstrating exercises to pupils. He received pound;3,000.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers won pound;8.3 million in compensation payouts last year, the NASUWT pound;8.1 million, while the NUT, the biggest union, does not yet have a final figure.

The unions said that victims of criminal assaults were sometimes less eligible for help than those who hurt themselves in unsafe workplaces. In one successful criminal case, a member of the NASUWT union won pound;85,000 after she was assaulted by a primary pupil who had a history of violence. A teacher in Northern Ireland won pound;7,500, and one in Leeds won pound;5,500, when they received injuries at the hands of violent pupils.

And in Scarborough, a teacher suffered an eye injury and post-traumatic shock disorder after a pupil directed a laser pen into her home. Compensation worth pound;1,750 was awarded.

But these payouts were far less than many of the personal in- jury claims. Among such payouts was a record pound;625,000, revealed by The TES last year. Insurers for King Edward VI Grammar School in Lincolnshire agreed to pay the sum to a science teacher who was permanently crippled by an electric shock in his lab.

The NASUWT said 52 of its members had asked for legal help after being assaulted, but there were tight constraints on criminal compen-sation. "These cases are difficult to pursue to a successful conclusion," the union stated in its annual report.

The NUT agreed, saying the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme excluded those who suffered minor injuries at the hands of pupils. It was also being capped at a maximum pound;500,000 for serious injuries "This, in effect, punished the more vulnerable and the most injured," the union said.

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