Teachers Accident Compensation Claim Payouts

The Educational Institute of Scotland, Scotland’s biggest teaching union has revealed that its members had been awarded over £170,000 in settlement of compensation claims made last year for accidents and assaults at work.

The union has revealed that when legal fees were added to the £171,954 gave out in compensation the total cost to taxpayers in the year 2005/2006 was a staggering £250,000.

EIS General Secretary, Ronnie Smith, said health and safety for both staff and students in schools and colleges should be better. The union said that the number of serious incidents and the level of compensation awarded in that year were similar to previous years.

Some of the major awards to EIS members in settlement of compensation claims in the year 2005/2006 included;

  • £50,000 – injury following slip in school car park.
  • £5,000 – injury after slipping on water.
  • £2,475 – injured while trying to break up pupils fighting.
  • £4,500 – hearing loss due to exposure to noise.
  • £3,000 – injury after tripping over mat.
  • £4,000 – injury after being hit in the face by heavy door.
  • £4,000 – injuries to shoulder caused by pushing pupils in wheelchairs.
  • £18,625 – injuries to face following assault.
  • £1,000 – hit by pupils.
  • £3,500 – attacked by pupil.
  • £26,184 – punched by pupil.

The majority of the awards paid out are shown to be for personal injury incidents such as tripping, and these are said to be avoidable accidents according to the union. They insisted that if employers took more care in providing safe facilities for teachers then injuries would become less common, reducing the strain on the public purse.

The union also said the fact that the number of compensation claims and awards are unchanged year to year shows that there is very slow progress and much more is needed to be done to make all schools and colleges a safe place for teaching and learning.

Mr Smith said: “The lack of progress in making our schools and colleges the safest possible environment for teaching is a real cause for concern. While it is a fact of life that accidents occur, all employers have an obligation to do everything they can to protect their employees and to ensure that they can work in a safe and secure environment.”

He said: “The figures on compensation claims held by the EIS show that the biggest risk to teachers and lecturers in the workplace remains slips, trips or falls. Teachers, in common with many other public service workers, are far too often on the receiving end of assaults in the course of their work. Employers have a duty to assess and minimise the risk facing teachers, and also to send a clear message that all violent conduct – physical or verbal – will not be tolerated or condoned.”

The release of the union’s figures and statements coincide with figures obtained by the Scottish Tories under the Freedom of Information Act which show that the number of assaults on teachers by pupils in Scotland’s schools had risen by 25% in the same year. Rising from 2,224 assaults in 2004/05 to 2,768 in the year 2005/06.

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