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Accident Claims In Schools Going Up

It was only 3 years ago that Lord Falconer warned that unfounded fears of a "compensation culture" threatened to undermine important activities such as school trips. Yet it has just been discovered in figures obtained by a Welsh newspaper that councils across Wales are facing a minimum of £1m in compensation claims for accidents and injuries in schools and on school trips.
The accident claims have covered incidents ranging from stolen mobile phone to students being hit by cars. The claims all vary in details, in one case a student teacher is claiming £5,000 from Neath Port Talbot Council after being hit on the head while breaking up a fight whilst another has an £8,000 claim ongoing for breaking an ankle after stumbling on a three-inch Lego brick. Most of the claims mention the same one detail: lack of supervision at school.
The councils in Wales may be facing a huge compensation bill of over £1m after the claims have been tallied. The figure comprises insurance claims for accident, injury and loss as well as final pay-outs and other costs.
When Lord Falconer first made his comments, Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair was insistent on promoting outdoor school activities. He and the MP’s that approved the idea were not thinking about the possible accident claims that could sprout up. They opined that schools, local authorities and the voluntary sector were worried about claims being brought and so were less enthusiastic about planning more field trips and outdoor school events.
One of the biggest teaching unions, NASUWT disagreed strongly at the time and the figures from Wales suggest they have been right all along. What is needed is the proper guidance given to schools, to help them assess and manage the risks involved in trips. Following regulations and safety procedures was always the suggested way forward after the subject was mooted by government, but the reality remains that some schools remained unconvinced about what guidelines to follow because of pressures on curriculum time, lack of specialist expertise, concerns about taking risks and fear of litigation.
Although accident claims have not risen dramatically, the number of past incidents still gives schools cause for concern. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by way of proper consultation with school regulatory bodies and local councils, as children need outdoor activities and methods of learning to facilitate what is going on inside the classroom.
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