School injuries cost Humber authorities £1.1m in payouts

School compensation claims are "becoming more common"

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Councils in East Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire have paid out more than £1.1m in compensation and legal fees for injuries in schools.

A BBC Freedom of Information request revealed 27 claims cost East Riding of Yorkshire Council £600,533 in payouts and fees in the last five years.

In North Lincolnshire, six claims totalled £239,100, while 10 claims in Hull cost the city council £187,974.

North East Lincolnshire had 14 claims with a total expenditure of £156,485.

The figures cover the period 2009-2014.

One of the largest single claims in the region was £7,750 paid out by Hull for broken bones after a large object fell on to a student's leg. Legal fees and medical costs had cost the council an additional £39,846.90.

A primary school child in Hull who was hurt in a game of tag received £1,100, but the case cost the local authority £14,716 in legal fees.

In North Lincolnshire, there was a £2,451 claim for a student who suffered bruising and a sprain after slipping in a school hall.

'Opportunist claims'

Kevin Rowlands, principal of the Oasis Academy in Immingham, said there were strict health and safety rules.

He said it did not affect the way students learned or the number of school trips pupils went on, but some parents were encouraged to claim by solicitors.

"There is an opportunist approach to claims perhaps where there's been an injury in sport," he said.

"Parents who have been accepting that accidents do happen, they've been encouraged to pursue a claim and to try to look into a blame culture."

Chris McGovern, chair of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Schools are wrapping children up in cotton wool because they are fearful of this compensation culture.

"Teachers are diligent but they are thinking there's so much bureaucracy and form-filling and the threat of compensation claims, that maybe we shouldn't even bother with things like school trips.

He added: "I think [school compensation claims] are becoming more common.

"There is a compensation culture out there and it is having damaging consequences for the children."

Mark Robinson, a partner and head of personal injury at Wilkin Chapman Grange Solicitors, based in Grimsby, said school injury claims were rare but the accidents could be very serious.

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