09/02/2015 06:30 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Teaching Assistant Who Slipped On Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Costs Taxpayers £40,000


Teaching staff have been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation for injuries caused by everything from slipping on a jigsaw puzzle piece to breaking up playground fights.

In one of the most extreme cases, a teaching assistant who slipped on a jigsaw piece cost taxpayers £40,000 after a legal battle over compensation. The assistant, from Blackpool, fractured her coccyx and suffered back pain.

Blackpool council paid the assistant £4,800 in compensation but also had to settle £32,000 in legal costs.

The case was one of 281 payouts made to teachers and assistants last year for injuries sustained at work.

The figures have been uncovered by the Mail following a study of town halls across England.

It found that local authorities shelled out a total of £7 million in taxpayers' money in damages and legal bills.

Andy Silvester, a spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the newspaper: "Either schools aren't providing a safe environment or are paying out too quickly in spurious claims.

"This compensation culture is out of control and it is taxpayers who end up with the bill. We simply have to bring this figure down, because every penny spent on compensation is a penny that can't be spent on education."

Christopher McGowan, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "The 'compensation culture' is having a debilitating and disastrous impact on schools.

"The latest evidence shows that the compensation culture has spread with a vengeance from claims by pupils to claims by school employees. It has become a compensation 'free for all'. Money that should be spent on the education of children is being lost to the law and to the lawyers."

The newspaper said the largest payout was £114,000, given to a teacher in Birmingham who developed a stress disorder after being injured when breaking up a fight.

Another teacher in the city was handed £32,000 after slipping on ice, £25,000 was paid to a teacher injured when items fell on them from a store cupboard and two payments of £4,500 and £16,000 were given to teachers after projectors fell on their heads.