Head teacher warns that law firms are targeting schools

Ambulance chasers are creating a generation of compensation culture children as the trend for litigation against schools grows, teachers fear.

The National Association of Head Teachers has warned that pupils' parents are threatening legal action against schools over exclusions, playground accidents, exam results and other issues.

Association professional advice head Kathryn James said claims companies encouraged parents to pursue schools for compensation.

"We have evidence of solicitors' firms with advertisements such as `are your children having problems at school?' and `are your children's special educational needs being met?' " she said.

"We're having an increasing number of parents being supported by solicitors and even barristers at exclusion meetings."

Compensation firms are also approaching parents whose children have appeared in newspaper articles over troubles at school, she said.

James said as a result there were children growing up with the belief that it was normal to pursue compensation, as some parents were unwilling to accept that schools were capable of accidents.

In a bid to defuse the problem, James said the association was looking at how complaints against schools were dealt with.

The association has also starting talking with the government about the regulation of claims companies.

Weightman Vizards partner Mark Whittaker said the movement of the compensation culture into schools was a worrying development.

"No one wants to deny compensation to children who have been injured as a result of a school's negligence," he said.

"However, this new trend could encourage claims with little validity, obliging schools to spend scarce resources in investigating and defending claims.

"Does the public really want teachers to spend more and more time dealing with lawyers rather than teachers?"