Costly price of education



It's not just science lessons that are causing chaos in Scotland's schools.
It's not just science lessons that are causing chaos in Scotland's schools.

By Cara Sulieman

COUNCILS across Scotland have shelled out a whopping half a million pounds in compensation claims in the last three years.

Although some of the accidents are serious, many raise questions about the safety of children and staff in the country’s schools.

Bizarre accidents have resulted in huge payouts for local authorities and added to the claims bill.

In North Ayrshire an employee cracked their ribs when they were pushed into a shelf by an opening door. The claim is still ongoing but expected to pay out a large sum of money.

And in South Lanarkshire a staff member successfully claimed an undisclosed amount after swallowing a piece of glass that was in their canteen food.

Glasgow City Council paid out £ 1,659.75 to a pupil who was struck on the head by a child-size garden hoe.

The amount of money spent on these claims has been criticised, with critics saying that money is being wasted.

Joining the ranks of the outraged is Mark Wallace, Campaigns Director at the Taxpayer’s Alliance.

He said: “It’s ridiculous. The compensation culture has got so out of hand that some people some happy to claim such large amounts of taxpayer’s money.

“Now compensation claims have become so popular councils have a responsibility to be tougher and to take more care of taxpayer’s money.”

And politicians have also spoken out against the payouts.

Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader, is worried that this sort of behaviour will lead to financial problems for the authorities in the future.

He said: “At a time of severe pressure on the public finances, local Councils need to be extra careful with the money they have.

“Councils need to develop a robust approach to spurious claims which will help deter them and, in the end, save the taxpayer money.”

But local authorities have defended themselves, saying that although they try to reduce accidents, they have to take responsibility if they have been negligent.

A COSLA Spokesman said: “Councils take the health and safety of their employees and people in their care extremely seriously and take every opportunity to reinforce a ‘safety first’ message. Every council has in place robust systems to ensure compliance with the Health &Safety at Work Act.

“There is significant investment in Health & Safety planning and training and risk assessment. Accidents in the workplace are required to be logged and the causal factors are fully investigated. Occasionally an injury will occur and will result in a claim for compensation and where appropriate this will be met.”