Teacher handed 400,000 in compensation after pupil knocked his arm into a filing cabinetCompensation for teachers broke through the 30million barrier last yearSuccessful claims rose by up to a quarter compared to 2011The payouts have left councils and schools with soaring legal bills

. This was up a quarter on the previous year – a figure that was already up 20 per cent on 2010.

Call to lift veil on academy heads pay

The National Union of Teachers – which together with the NASUWT represents 90 per cent of teachers – does not compile total payouts.

But, together with 5.5million from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the total paid out for personal injury and employment disputes, as well as awards from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, is believed to be well above the 25million paid out in 2011. Much of the money was paid out by insurance companies.

Most of the compensation came through compromise agreements, which are legal deals that avoid costly tribunals.

These prevent employees from pursuing claims through any other route. But critics fear they make the likelihood of a payout greater.

The NASUWT said nearly 12.5million was secured for 984 members through compromise agreements. A further 4.3million was won this way for members by the ATL.

The financial awards will raise questions about ‘rewards for failure’. One teacher resigned after she was told her weak performance increased the risk of the school going into special measures.

She won a 30,000 constructive dismissal claim. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: ‘Behind every one of these cases is a person who has been damaged physically or mentally.’

But Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the sums involved were ‘shocking’ and meant ‘less money spent on educating children’.

Michael Gove yesterday squared up to teachers’ unions threatening to strike.

The NUT and NASUWT want the Education Secretary to delay pay and pension reforms and take part in constructive talks. Mr Gove promised only to maintain a dialogue.