A teacher who slipped while avoiding a slice of HAM and another who tumbled on a pen lid are among dozens of bizarre compensation payouts made by schools, it emerged yesterday (Weds).
The teacher scooped £17,000 after side-stepping the meat slice on the dinner hall floor and slipping on “something gooey”.
One council had to shell out £83,000 after an eight-year legal battle over a teacher who tripped on a football net.
The payouts are among £150,000 paid by councils in the Bristol area for school compensation claims.
Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Education chiefs must resist the creeping compensation culture that is to be found in too many schools these days.”
South Gloucestershire Council found itself embroiled in an eight-year legal battle of the football net fall which ended in a four day court hearing.
The teacher got his foot caught in a loose goal net and was demanding £30,000 in compensation – but was handed just £619.50.
But because the council was judged to be partly to blame for the accident it was forced to pay £82,070 in legal fees, including the cost of the claimant’s solicitors.
The money was paid in 2011-12, eight years after the accident at the undisclosed South Gloucestershire school in 2004.
Council spokesman Dominic Moody said: “The council contested the claim on the basis that the teacher had been negligent of their personal health and safety.
“The judge found that not only was the claimant 50 per cent responsible for their own accident but the injuries were far less serious than claimed, resulting in a compensation payment of only £619.50, significantly less than the £30,000 originally claimed.
“The bulk of the costs were the claimant’s solicitors’ fees which, in spite of our success in the case, were awarded, in their entirety, against the council.
“Under the old regulations, the costs followed the case, regardless of contributory negligence being found on the part of the claimant.
“This particular case ran for eight years with four days in court, hence the high level of costs, and, as the council were found contributory negligent, the costs were awarded in their entirety against the council.”
He added that reforms introduced at the end of July this year meant that in future cases, such “disparity of costs compared to damages” should not happen again.
North Somerset Council has dealt with 35 claims made by teachers, support staff and pupils between 2008 and 2013 relating to incidents in its schools.
A teacher at Backwell School, in Backwell, won £17,000 in compensation after she sidestepped a piece of ham on the floor in the lunch hall but then slipped on “something gooey”.
At St Katherine’s School, in Pill, a pupil was awarded £15,719 after he cut his knee open on a protruding paving slab.
The youngster was running towards the school’s playing fields with his classmates to play rugby when he slipped on wet leaves and fell down a grass bank.
A pupil at Worle School, Weston-super-Mare, was awarded £9,666 after he slipped on a wet floor in his tutor room and landed on his elbow, causing it to fracture.
At St Martin’s School, in Worle, a pupil was handed £12,442 after suffering burns to one of their arms while working with a teacher to build a wooden rocket.
The youngster said the teacher had refilled a glue gun and pumped it, causing the substance to drip on to the unnamed pupil’s arm, causing burns.
Other recent claims in South Gloucestershire include one by a teaching assistant who fractured her foot after catching her shoe on an uneven playground surface while loading waste into a skip.
In February 2011, she received £2,800 in compensation and the council had to pay a further £7,500 to cover the claimant’s legal fees.
Bristol City Council said it could not supply details of compensation claims made by teaching staff and students in the last few years because it could lead to the disclosure of personal data,
Hilda Kalap, spokeswoman for the authority, said: “We have only had one successful compensation claim made by teaching staff against the council over the last five years.”
The total claimed by tripping teachers and slipping students in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire was £148,127.
Matthew Sinclair of pressure group TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Education chiefs must resist the creeping compensation culture that is to be found in too many schools these days.”
But NASUWT teaching union general secretary Chris Keates said: “It is a myth that compensation is easy to obtain.”
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