NUT members win record injury pay-outs

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The Independent Online

Teachers have received a record £2m in compensation for injuries suffered at work in the past year, with many caused by the poor state of school buildings.

Britain's biggest teachers' union has secured pay-offs for more than 200 of its members - some of whose careers have been ruined by accidents on school premises. It is pursuing a further 611 claims this year.

Legal officers of the 267,000-strong National Union of Teachers (NUT) say the payments showed billions of pounds of government money being spent on repairs is still failing to halt worsening conditions in the schools.

Graham Clayton, the union's senior solicitor, describes the £2m compensation as "the tip of the iceberg". He said the figure could be tripled as other members benefited from the precedents created by these cases without having to go to court.

The biggest single pay-out of £232,500 was made to a teacher who suffered crippling back injuries when he fell from a large ladder fixed on a platform being used to move lights ready for a school theatrical show.

The teacher, from the southwest of England, was unable to return to the classroom again - although he was found a job in his local education authority's personnel department. The settlement was to pay for health care, loss of employment and a sum for the injury itself.

The most tragic case involved the death of a teacher who was exposed to asbestos dust as a result of her job. It was settled for £135,237.

Amanda Brown, head of the NUT's legal department, said: "It's a reflection of a general trend of difficulties in school buildings. It is a general trend of worsening school buildings."