Tens of thousands of pounds awarded to injured students

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EDUCATION chiefs are shelling out tens of thousands of pounds in payouts to pupils hurt in Wigan schools, we can reveal.

An investigation by the Evening Post has uncovered dozens of compensation requests from students claiming to have been injured at schools in the borough over the last three years.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show more than £70,000 has been awarded to primary and secondary school pupils since April 2008.

In total, 42 requests for compensation were made, which resulted in six successful claims.

However, this figure may rise as some cases are still to be dealt with.

The largest payout saw one pupil receive more than £23,600 after suffering a back injury when slipping during a PE lesson in a school sports hall.

Another student was awarded £14,000 after being struck in the face by a brick, which had allegedly been thrown by another pupil during building work at the school.

A pupil received £12,300 after fracturing an ankle when they slipped on sand that had overflowed from the sand pit area in the corner of a classroom.

Council chiefs today said they had “effective systems” in place to reduce the risk of accidents in schools.

Nick Hudson, Wigan Council’s corporate director for people, said: “The council takes the health and safety of pupils extremely seriously and works with schools in an advisory capacity to help minimise the risk of accidents taking place on and around school premises.

“These figures must be taken in the context of the thousands of children who attend schools in our borough.

“While any injury accident involving children is unfortunate, regrettably accidents do happen and, while we can do all we can to minimise the possibility, we can never entirely eradicate them.

“In terms of the amount of money paid out in compensation claims, once again we do all we can to minimise this.

“However, it is worth pointing out the majority of this will be money paid out in legal costs, rather than compensation to the actual injured party.”

Fourteen compensation claims for pupils were brought against schools each year in 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Successful claims included a child who was awarded £9,300 after fracturing a knuckle, following a trip on a raised flagstone on a school footpath.

A student received £7,200 after falling into a flower planter and damaging their jaw and teeth.

Other payouts included £1,500 to a pupil who ran into an air conditioning unit which had no guard, £1,400 to student who injured their back while folding away trampolines, more than £380 to a youngster who suffered ankle ligament damage after catching their foot in a grid with a broken cover, and £350 to a student who caught their finger in a set of double doors which had closed quickly.