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Teachers' damages payments revealed

A teacher won £200,000 in compensation last year after slipping on a grape, according to new figures.

Another, who fell on spilt food on a school canteen floor, was awarded £100,000.

The cases are examples of claims which saw teachers win millions of pounds in compensation in 2010 for accidents, injuries, assaults or unfair dismissal at school.

The teacher who slipped on a grape left on a stairwell received the six-figure sum because the injury aggravated an existing hernia problem. He was eventually unable to work because of chronic pain.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT), which represented the teacher, said the payout covered loss of earnings and pension. "Evidence showed that the school were aware of littering problems around the school but had not taken action to prevent or minimise it," the union said.

Another NUT member was also awarded compensation for slipping on a grape, this time in a corridor, according to figures reported in the Times Educational Supplement. She won £20,000 after fracturing her hip.

Separate figures from the NASUWT teaching union, provided to the Press Association, show that one of their members, a 49-year-old from the West Midlands received a settlement of £100,000 after suffering from a compressed disc in her back when she slipped on spilt food on the school's lunch hall floor.

Another NASUWT member received £80,000 after slipping in a school dining room, fracturing bones in her leg, tearing ligaments behind her knee and damaging nerves. She was unable to return to teaching. In total, NASUWT members were handed £10.5 million for compensation cases completed in 2010.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "The level of compensation is no cause for celebration. What this figure illustrates is the cost to the public purse of employers' poor or discriminatory employment practices and failure to pay due regard to health and safety in the workplace.

"Behind each of these cases is a person whose life has been changed through serious injury or unfair dismissal from their chosen career. Compensation is important but it is cold comfort if your health is irreparably damaged or your professional career has ended."

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