Teachers awarded £12m damages over past year

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Britain's teachers have netted more than £12m in compensation payments in the past year as a result of accidents and assaults in schools.

The record payouts included £80,000 for a woman teacher from St Helens, Lancashire, who slipped on a patch of mud while walking between school buildings. She injured her left hip and lower spine, exacerbating rheumatic problems and forcing her to retire because of ill health.

A 29-year-old Essex teacher won £28,100 after falling down an unlit staircase while trying to find two pupils who had absconded on a residential trip. She broke her elbow and nose, damaged her teeth and suffered severe bruising.

The biggest payment of the year was a Criminal Injuries Compensation Award of £279,000 to a teacher from the East Midlands who was seriously assaulted by a 13-year-old boy. The attack eventually caused her to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder as well as physical injuries and led to the recurrence of a depressive illness. A year after the assault, she was forced to take ill-health retirement.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, whose members won more than £8,700,000 in compensation, said: "Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money could be saved every year if all employers took their legal responsibilities seriously."