Blunder put Sheffield schools top of pay-out table

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Sheffield’s status as the compensation capital of the country when it comes to payouts for accidents and injuries in the city’s schools has been torpedoed by council officials.

A new league table based on responses from more than 130 councils showed Sheffield at the top of the tree – apparently having paid out almost £1,150,000 over the last three years.

But officers blundered when replying to a Freedom of Information request which released the latest figures.

The total included claims from schools requesting the council to repay the cost of repairing property damage – which as the period included the severe winter of 2010-11 were abnormally high.

Also included were claims made on a council travel insurance policy and others for damage to staff vehicles.

The final revised figure for the three years comes to around £139,000 – which is much lower than many authorities and not in the national top 10.

In some cases no compensation was ever paid but the council must log the cost of defending a claim.

The most recent statistics for the last school year show only one payout to a pupil – £1,000 to a youngster who was the victim of an assault.

Staff made claims totalling £11,400 – by far the highest a £7,800 payout to an employee hurt by defective equipment.

A teacher who was the victim of an assault received £630, while another who was hurt slipping on ice was paid a similar amount.

Other claims after staff tripped up on floors, stairs, obstructions and steps resulted in no payouts at all.

A council spokeswoman said: “The original FOI request had not been interpreted correctly and we provided the details for all school claims in the period.

“This would then include property damage claims, which aren’t compensation claims – they are claims for repairs which are insured in a similar way as you and I would insure our homes or possessions.”

The spokeswoman added: “The figures happened to be much higher than the norm because they included 2010/11 when many schools suffered from burst pipes in the exceptionally cold winter.”