The risk of asbestos in our schools

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Today the Education select committee is holding a one-off enquiry to consider the available evidence of the risks that asbestos in schools pose. It will look at whether the current regulatory system we have is sufficient and whether changes need to be made.

In October 2010 the Select Committee published  the paper "Asbestos in schools: The need for action by all". This enquiry follows on from that publication, which included a report for recommendations to the government about the management of asbestos in schools.  The recommendations in short are: 

  1. For the Government to set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools with priority given to those where the asbestos is most dangerous or damaged.
  2. For standards to be set in asbestos training and for that training to be mandatory.
  3. For the DFE and HSE to developed together guidance specific to asbestos in schools.
  4. For there to be a culture of openness between schools, parents of pupils and teachers as to the presence of asbestos .
  5. For there to be pro active inspections to determine the standards of asbestos management.
  6. For data to be collected centrally on the extent, type and condition of asbestos in schools and for this record to be maintained. 

Asbestos in our schools has been in the news recently  and some of you may recall the closure of Cwmcarn High School in Wales in October 2012 after high levels of airborne asbestos were found in several school building.  Shockingly the Department of Educations best estimate is that over 75% of UK schools contain asbestos.

We can only fully support the above recommendations to regulate and manage this issue. 

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