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Oxfordshire schools pay out nearly £150k to settle compensation claims
NEARLY £150,000 has been paid out in compensation claims against Oxfordshire schools over the past five years.
From 2008 to 2013, Oxfordshire County Council settled 25 claims amounting to £96,649 made by pupils, employees and members of the public, while 60 were dismissed.
For the same period, a further £47,651 was paid out in relation to school trips, mostly for cancellations.
The biggest payout was in 2008 to a member of the public who claimed £10,750 after tripping in the grounds of a school.
The headteacher of one of the city’s biggest educational establishments said there was too much paperwork around school trips.
But she said she did not believe there was a compensation culture that was out of control in the county – a point confirmed by the fact the figures are on the wane.
Sue Croft, headteacher at Oxford Spires Academy, said: “It’s important to have the right approach to risk, but not get into a ‘what if this happens’ mindset. I do worry sometimes there is so much bureaucracy around trips it can put people off.
“Everything you do has a risk. You have to assess it and minimise that risk but I don’t think it should stop really good activities taking place.”
She added: “It doesn’t sound like a horrendous amount, given the number of schools, but of course it is a sum of money that could be back in schools. It could be spent on children’s education and is a bit of a shame – I could spend £150k very happily on helping students do better.”
The figures reveal that other claims included £2,500 paid to an employee who sprained their leg restraining a pupil, while one pupil received £4,566 after suffering a fracture after tripping in the playground.
A further 33 claims have yet to be settled.
The number of claims each year has dropped slightly, with 25 claims in the 2008-2009 financial year compared with just 14 from 2012-2013 — 12 of which are still outstanding.
Only one claim from 2012-2013 has been settled, with £361 going to a parent for property damage in the school grounds.
In Gloucestershire, about £150,000 was paid out just to pupils in the same period, while Kent County Council’s bill for claims by pupils ran to nearly £700,000.
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Paul Smith said it took a “rigorous approach” to managing claims.
- 2008-2009: £25,844.81
- 2009-2010: £39,774.50
- 2010-2011: £19,795.80
- 2011-2012: 10,873.62
- 2012-2013: £361
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