Teachers and pupils in Southampton were collectively awarded more than £305,000 in compensation last year as a result of slips, trips and falls, new figures have revealed.
An investigation by Capital FM revealed this was the highest sum for any local authority area in the country during this period. One teacher received £100,000 in compensation after being injured by a piece of metal in a cupboard. Meanwhile, a pupil received a comparable payout after falling on the stairs at his school.
Southampton City Council's total bill for slip, trip and fall compensation came to £305,833.
This put it well ahead of other local authorities along the south coast. For instance, Portsmouth City Council paid out £17,957 as a result of slips, trips and falls in schools. Meanwhile, the total bill at West Sussex County Council added up to £38,738.
Capital FM also published figures for local authority payouts following accidents in schools in the north-east of England. Councils in the region paid out a collective total of almost £170,000, with Gateshead Council's compensation bill coming to nearly £80,000, one of the highest individual figures in the country.
One of the highest compensation settlements was in Sunderland, with a teacher in the city receiving a £32,000 payout after slipping over in school.
According to guidance from the Department for Education (DfE), health and safety in schools is the responsibility of the employer, such as local authorities, governing bodies or the proprietor, although it points out staff can be asked to take on certain responsibilities.
Official guidance also states that children should "be able to experience a wide range of activities", with health and safety measures helping them to "do this safely, not stop them".
"It is important that children learn to understand and manage the risks that are a normal part of life," the DfE writes.
"Common sense should be used in assessing and managing the risks of any activity."
By Francesca Witney