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Over £450,000 paid in compensation to Scottish teachers last year

Teachers and lecturers working in Scotland have received over £450,00 in compensation after suffering injuries at work in the last year. The injuries received have come as a result of accidents as well as assaults.

Payments which were made to members of the teacher’s union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) who were victims of violence which took place in the classroom or school totalled £76,877.

One teacher received a payout of £45,000 after being attacked by a pupil. The teacher suffered injuries to their ribs after the pupil had repeatedly kicked and punched them.

Most common cause of accidents ‘slips, trips and falls’

A different educator received £17,125 following another attack by a young person, who injured their hip and lower back after using a ‘flying kick’ as a form of attack.

One EIS member was given £12,452 and was made to go through an operation. This was after a pupil in their charge lashed out at them, and in doing so managed to kick their kneecap off.

Another teacher was given £2,300 after they suffered a number of conditions following a confrontation with a parent. The irate parent shouted and swore in the teacher’s face, causing them to suffer from headaches, loss of sleep and panic attacks.

Despite these horror stories, the majority of payouts were awarded to teachers who suffered injuries as a result of falling. The largest payout for a fall was £220,000. This payout was a result of someone slipping on a wet floor in a dark corridor. The fall caused a fractured hip, as well as a number of other serious injuries.

One teacher who was on a school trip was awarded £31,000 after they fell over in a car park which was full of potholes. Another received £20,000 due to becoming unwell after being subjected to working in classrooms which were too dusty.

One teacher was given a payout of £19.907 after they were concussed when a shelf fell on top of their head. The total of payouts which were made over the course of the year were £469,758.

The general secretary for the EIS, Larry Flanagan, spoke about the moves which have been made to make workplaces safer for teachers and lecturers, but said that ‘there is still a long way to go’ to being able to get rid of the number of injuries which occur in schools, colleges and universities.

He said that due to the nature of these workplaces, the environment will never be completely risk-free. He added, however, that the facilities must all be as safe as possible for both workers and learners.

He conceded that the most common form of injuries continue to come from unnecessary accidents, including ‘slips, trips and falls.’

He said that the organisation have also noticed an ‘alarming’ increase in the number of teachers and lecturers who have taken time off due to stress, saying: ‘The EIS has also observed an alarming rise in the number of cases of work-related stress illness and injury claims over the past few years.’

He has blamed a number of factors for the increase in these stress related illnesses. Highlighting budget cuts, as well as a decrease in the number of teaching staff, as well as support staff, he said that teachers feel the full impact, saying that their workload increases as a result of these factors.

The payout figures from EIS come just weeks after it was revealed that the increased use and dependence of mobile phones and tablets are being blamed for the increasing levels of ‘disruptive’ behaviour which is taking place in primary school classrooms.

A report which was compiled by the Scottish Government found that there was a marked increase in ‘low-level disruptive behaviour’ in the last four year. Low-level disruptive behaviour includes verbal abuse, physical violence and physical aggression.

Teachers have blamed societal changes for the increase in low-level disruptive behaviour in classrooms. They say that the increasing numbers of young people using technology was directly contributing to a rise in the problems which are taking place in class.

Politicians from opposing parties have said that the compensation figures are ‘unacceptable’. They say that the figures show that there must be more action taken from ministers.

An MSP for Scottish Lib Dem, Alex Cole-Hamilton, spoke about how schools should be places where teachers and students must feel safe, to allow learning and teaching to thrive. He said: Children and teachers must feel that their school is a safe place where they feel comfortable, confident and ready to learn. 

“Violence, or even the fear of such disruption, can hold that back.’

He has called on the Scottish Government to develop a plan to address the problems which have been highlighted. He has called for them to make local authorities as well as schools aware of the steps which they plan to put in place to help tackle these problems head on, and to reverse the ‘worrying trend’.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government agreed with Mr Cole-Hamilton, saying: ‘Every pupil and teacher should feel safe from harm at school and in their community.’

She said, however, that it is not only the responsibility of the government, but of local authorities to keep schools as safe environments, saying that they have a ‘statutory responsibility’ to ensure that schools within local authorities are kept to safe and sufficient standards.

The spokeswoman for Scottish Tory education said that pupils who think that this type of disruption in classrooms should be removed from the classroom no matter what age they are, saying that it is the benefit of teachers and fellow children to do so.

She said that failure to do this will result in a further difficulty in attracting professionals to become teachers.

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