More than £1.5m has been paid out in compensation to children injured due to ‘basic health and safety failings’ in Greater Manchester schools in the last five years.

A pupil at a school in Rochdale was awarded £8,000 after being struck by falling goal posts and a child from another school in the town received £2,000 after being hit on the head by a crossbar that fell.  One pupil in Tameside received £22,326 after being injured in a school activity and a child who was hurt after being pushed by another child at a primary school in the borough received £9,494.

Of the ten boroughs Manchester was responsible for the bulk of the successful claims – 190 – which cost £943,848.  The figures were obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Eccles-based safety experts, Employment Law Advisory Service.

In Bolton there were 14 successful claims and a total of £150,881 was paid out including £671 to a child who was injured slipping on ice and leaves. The largest payment was for £24,383 for a claim over ‘classroom supervision’.  Rochdale dealt with eight successful claims which cost £49,146, and Salford seven claims costing £103,223.

Oldham paid out £41,920 for seven claims, and Stockport £89,245 for ten claims, and Trafford £19,250 for six claims, including £8,000 after a child injured a wrist in a playground.  Tameside paid out £84,792 for eight claims, Bury £48,337 but declined to say for how many claims, and Wigan £108,699 for 15 claims.

Pay outs by Manchester included slips and trips in playgrounds, fingers trapped in doors and behind radiators, children falling of climbing frames, and accidents involving defective school equipment.  In total there were 255 successful personal injury claims across the county against schools – more than Greater London and Birmingham combined.

ELAS’ lead health and safety consultant, Wayne Dunning, said: “These figures are shocking and clearly not enough is being done to protect children in schools from what are, in the main, preventable accidents.  “Health and safety is not being managed properly in the education sector and this is costing taxpayers millions, not only in direct compensation, but also additional hidden costs from administration. It’s clear from the nature of the accidents that many areas are being overlooked by school managers and teachers, not through any fault of their own, but because they haven’t received the necessary training required to identify the potential risks and hazards that may prevent an accident.  These are quite basic health and safety failings and the government needs to invest more in training.”

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