An increasing number of slips and trips in the classroom, physical assaults on teachers and instances where schools and local authorities have failed to comply with their legal responsibilities relating to health, safety and employment, led to teachers injury compensation exceeding 25 million pounds in 2011.
Exactly how much compensation for teachers injuries was paid out last year is not yet known, as only two of the three largest teaching unions have so far revealed what their members received ahead of their respective Easter conferences.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers accounted for 17.9 million pounds of teachers injury compensation, while the National Union of Teachers annually assists teachers in the UK with compensation claims totalling more than 10 million pounds in value.
Among some of the highlighted teacher injury compensation claims was a case where a former teacher received 220,000 pounds after contracting mesothelioma cancer due to exposure to asbestos in the classroom and a settlement of 222,215 pounds was paid to a teacher who suffered permanent brain damage after being attacked by a special needs student.
Psychological injuries attributable to stress and employment disputes were also a major contributory factor to the total amount paid in teachers injury compensation in 2011, with the majority of teachers injury compensation claims being settled by negotiation via legal channels rather than through the courts or an employment tribunal.
Union leaders admitted that the payments of teachers injury compensation could be perceived as a waste of public money but blamed school heads and the education authorities for failing to protect their staff. Chris Keates – General Secretary of the NASUWT union was quoted as saying “Employers who deliberately flout the law are not only causing distress, ill-health and job losses, they are costing taxpayers millions of pounds”.