Compensation payments made to teachers who have been injured at work has more than doubled in the past year, figures reveal.
Members of Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), received a total of £686,716 in compensation settlements in the past 12 months.
This is more than double the total compensation awarded in 2019, when just over £290,000 in settlements was paid out.
The payments were awarded for a wide range of workplace injuries, including those caused by accident, assault or poor working environment.
What were claims made for?
Figures released by the EIS show that of the total compensation awarded this year, £290,000 was for assaults.
One claimant alone was awarded £200,000 after they were seriously injured in an assault by a pupil.
A further £55,000 was awarded for a claim of violence after an altercation with a pupil saw one member assaulted, causing serious injury and distress.
Just last week figures published in response to a freedom of information request showed more than 600 attacks on teachers in Tayside and Fife in 2019 alone.
This was labelled “incredibly concerning” by Scottish Conservative justice spokesman and north-east MSP Liam Kerr, who said it was “imperative” school staff were supported.
Claims made on health and stress grounds were also awarded compensation, with a total of £240,616 being paid out in 2020.
One EIS member received £65, 616 for ill-health suffered due to the workplace environment.
Successful accident claims totalling £21,100 included one from a member who fell in an untreated school park and sustained an elbow injury.
What is the union saying?
Commenting on the figures, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan highlighted the need for schools to be made as safe as possible to ensure staff are not injured whilst at work.
He said: “It is never a welcome development to report on an increase in compensation payments received by our members.
“Whilst the sums involved do represent success for the EIS in pursuing appropriate compensation for injuries suffered at work, our clear preference would be to see these types of injuries eliminated entirely from our schools, colleges and universities.
“The most common cause of injuries remains slips, trips and falls. These types of incidents are entirely avoidable with correct adherence to appropriate health and safety procedures in the workplace.
“It is essential that the relevant employers take all possible precautions to ensure that all facilities are as safe as possible for staff and for students.”
The union secretary also raised concerns over the current safety of schools during the current coronavirus pandemic and said the EIS would continue to stand up for members’ welfare to ensure their voices were heard.
He added: “Many teaching professionals have felt particularly vulnerable in their places of work over the past year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All employers have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for their employees in order to protect both their physical and mental health.
“It is never a welcome development to report on an increase in compensation payments received by our members.”
“Working in buildings that many teachers do not believe are Covid secure, without sufficient safety mitigations in place, has had significant implications for the physical and mental wellbeing of many of our members.
“It is important to emphasise the valuable role that unions such as the EIS play in standing up for employment rights and the health and wellbeing of employees.
“The EIS will continue to do all that it can to defend its members from all workplace risks by continuing to push local authorities and the Scottish Government to ensure that our schools, colleges and universities are safe places to work and to learn.”