Suffolk: Schools pay out more than �500k to injured staff and pupils

MORE than half a million pounds has been paid out in compensation to staff, pupils and visitors following accidents at schools in Suffolk, new figures have revealed.

The damages payouts, over the last three years, include nearly �200,000 to a member of staff who suffered an injury at an Ipswich school, and �50,620 for a pupil who had suffered a sprain.

The table of payments, which totals �598,101, was released by Suffolk County Council after a request under the Freedom of Information by the EADT.

The council was unable to give details of each individual claim and the exact injuries suffered.

But education chiefs said last night that the figures should serve as a warning of the importance of health and safety, and that it was a collective responsibility.

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The second highest payout was awarded to a visitor to an Ipswich school who received �63,000 following an injury.

Another claim involved a pupil from a Haverhill school who was given �21,937 for a head injury, and another from Ipswich awarded �50,620 for a sprain.

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It is believed that the compensation is covered through indemnity insurance, however an excess payment would have been paid for each of the incidents.

A total of 27 claims were successfully pursued against schools run by the council in the three year time frame, with the smallest payout being �500 for a chipped bone.

Councillor Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education and young people, said: “It is extremely unfortunate that these incidents have occurred, especially as school’s staff carry out routine checks.

“The county council offers detailed guidance on premises inspections in schools and in the last 18 months the authority has trained hundreds of school governors and school leaders in health and safety management.

“It is true that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility which is why I would encourage people to report any health and safety hazards that they notice, whether they are a student, a member of school staff, a parent or a visiting member of the public.”

There was also a word of caution from NUT Suffolk secretary Graham White.

He said: “The number of schools in Suffolk and the number of pupils involved it doesn’t seem a high figure.

“But I’d warn schools that if you’re going to become an academy you will bear the cost yourselves, not the authority.

“The academy might say it will never happen to us or we have insurance but insurance companies might find a loophole and not pay out.

“The figures from Suffolk County Council demonstrate that, with all the expertise they have, accidents do still happen.”

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