Nearly half of schools unaware of asbestos presence

According to an online survey by the National Union of Teachers, nearly 50 per cent of all respondents had not been told whether their school contains asbestos.

This is despite 86 per cent of schools containing the substance.

Less than five per cent of respondents had been told that their school did not contain asbestos; therefore the majority of respondents either knew that asbestos was present in their school, or had not been told either way.

Of the 46 per cent of respondents who had been told that their school contained asbestos, half had not been told where the asbestos was located, meaning staff cannot take steps to avoid disturbing it.

Nearly 75 per cent said that the asbestos was in accessible locations, such as floors, ceilings, and window frames, and only two per cent said that parents had been given information about the presence of asbestos in schools.

Kevin Courtney, the union’s general secretary, said: “This survey reveals an appalling state of affairs in our schools. It certainly serves to strengthen our case for the government to commit to a long-term strategy for the phased removal of asbestos from all our schools.

“Parents need to be reassured that asbestos is being safely managed in their child’s school, something we clearly cannot be confident of at the moment.

“The presence of asbestos in our schools is putting children and school staff at risk of developing mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure. The government’s casual approach to the health of staff and children in our schools is totally unacceptable and needs to stop.”

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