Figures released by the teaching unions have revealed that more than £26 million was paid out in settlements of compensation claims for teachers in 2014.
The figures released by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) apply to all compensation claims for teachers – including personal injury claims, assault claims and employment claims – and reveal a wide range of injuries that can be sustained by teachers in the course of their work.
Among the settlements of compensation claims for teachers included in the figures were:
A 25-year-old PE teacher in the south-east received £41,000 after suffering soft tissue injuries and a dislocated knee while demonstrating long jump techniques to his students. The local authority admitted liability after the long jump pit was found to be in an unsafe condition.
Another teacher from the south-east was paid £17,250 compensation after damp and mouldy conditions at her school – brought about by an unrepaired leaking roof – caused her to develop breathing problems and anxiety which prevented her from teaching.
Another female teacher received £70,000 in injury compensation after slipping on a wet floor with no warning signs. Her fall resulted in the premature onset of arthritis in her hip, and the teacher had to resign from teaching due to the consequences of her injury.
One of the largest settlements of compensation claims for teachers was paid to a 53-year-old teacher, who tripped on an unsecured carpet and suffered a serious head injury – which resulted in memory loss – when she hit her head on a shelf as she fell.
Commenting on the settlements of compensation claims for teachers, Chris Keates – the General Secretary of the NASUWT – said: “The tragedy is that in most cases compensation would be unnecessary if employers followed good employment practices and appropriate health and safety procedures.”
He continued: “The distress and displeasure of the incident to the individual teacher and their family has often been compounded by years of legal action and court proceedings before any award is made.” The largest settlement of a compensation claim reported by the NASUWT was £210,000 for a retired teacher, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in 2013 following exposure to asbestos in a classroom.