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Michael Lees MBE has now retired from Asbestos in Schools (AiS) and we will not be updating this site. The research papers and other material will remain on the web for reference. AiS has now set up a new site which is more orientated towards public participation and is at www.asbestosinschools.org.uk. It has a number of current papers on it transferred from this site. - Michael Lees MBE 5 Oct 2015

Incidents of, and articles about,
asbestos in schools
The reports below are only a small sample of the many incidents that occur in schools on a daily basis as most incidents go unreported or are unnoticed.

For more detail: This paper analyses around 100 asbestos incidents in schools, contamination of the schools and inhalation of fibres. Many incidents have occurred because of a failure in asbestos management and a lack of asbestos awareness and training.

The Herts Advertiser
16 Sep
Asbestos is being stripped from a secondary school (Diocese of St Albans, Townsend CofE School) where students are being taught music.... A notice was recently sent to parents of pupils attending St Albans Music School, which earlier this year had to relocate to Townsend School from its former base at Garden Fields JMI, to make way for the latter’s expansion. ... it said that the music school would not open until next Monday, September 21, as builders carrying out refurbishment work had discovered more asbestos than expected. He said that an initial survey identified the presence of asbestos mainly in floor tiles, the plant and electrical intake rooms and a ceiling panel.
Barking & Dagenham Post
10 Sep
Although welcoming the fact that the council is checking the state of the fibres in schools, John McClean, GMB national health and safety officer, admits the union are concerned about the quality of these checks.
“Now that this information is finally out in the open and parents, teachers, staff and governors know exactly which schools contain asbestos we would also be interested in the council’s long-term plans on how to deal with this deadly problem,” he said.“Blanket claims that the asbestos is being managed properly often fail to address the nature of the environment in schools, where the presence and activity of children do not make a typical workplace and exposure to asbestos fibres can occur inadvertently.” The Trade Union Congress (TUC) have recently adopted a proposal, supported by the GMB, calling for all asbestos to be removed from public buildings, including schools, by 2028 and then by all buildings across the UK by 2035. The union are now hoping to meet with the council over the issue
The Legal Examiner
9 Sep
However, experts warn that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that we may continue to see a rise in mesothelioma related deaths in areas not traditionally associated with heavy industry.  Experts believe that thousands of white collar workers, a group previously deemed to be low risk, could be susceptible to asbestos related diseases, due to the widespread use of asbestos as a building material during the second half of the 20th Century.  Office workers, doctors and teachers all could have disturbed and inhaled deadly asbestos dust from an act as simple as placing a pin in an asbestos filled wall.
Sec Ed
9 Sep
We have an ‘unstoppable momentum’ in the fight against asbestos in schools ..... We now know, because of the Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC), for example, that children are far more vulnerable than was originally thought and it is acknowledged that schools need to be viewed differently to other places of work. That is because of the pressure that has been put to bear in the last few years...“We are now talking about this in a way we weren’t two decades ago. The debate is based around knowledge and information, and we have that evidence on our side. That in itself gives me great hope for the future... The figures speak for themselves. Between 1980 and 1985 there were 15 recorded mesothelioma deaths among school teachers – just three per year. In 2012 alone, there were 22. The numbers are set to continue to rise as the links have become more evident. Around 75 per cent of UK state schools contain asbestos and there is now further research estimating that as many as 300 former pupils could be dying every year from exposure while they were at school. These pupils are dying in their 40s and 50s because of the long latency period. In recent years, Mr Lees has been a member of the Department for Education’s Asbestos Steering Group, which advises ministers, and he was a founder of the campaigning organisation, Asbestos in Schools. He also sits on the Joint Union Asbestos Committee, which comprises membership from 10 teaching and related trade unions. Those groups encouraged the creation of the CoC, adding medical expertise to the debate.
Sunderland Echo
11 Sep
The British Medical Journal recently predicted a rise in the number of asbestos-related diseases, likely to peak around 2020. The deadliest such disease is mesothelioma, for which there is no cure. Mesothelioma has mostly affected those who have worked in heavy industry without protection against the asbestos dust they were exposed to,” said Mr Hall.However, more recently cases have appeared where teachers and office workers have developed this disease.
These occupations were not previously considered at risk, but the evidence shows low level exposure to the dust is sufficient to cause disease.
Shropshire Star
7 Sept
Hundreds of buildings in use across Shropshire contain asbestos, new figures released by councils revealed today.... Overall there are 391 sites across Shropshire with asbestos, of which around 175 are schools, 13 libraries, 10 fire stations, and about 10 leisure facilities including swimming pools.... The building that contains the most traces of asbestos is The Shirehall in Shrewsbury, where 398 samples were found during an inspection. This is followed by the Grove School in Market Drayton with 270 samples and Idsall School in Shifnal with 257.
News North Wales
2 Sept
CONWY County Council has moved to allay fears after asbestos was found at a Rhos on Sea primary school. The hazardous material was found at Ysgol Llandrillo-yn-Rhos during an inspection before a kitchen revamp which took place during the school holidays. The spokesperson added: “Work to refurbish the kitchen at Ysgol Llandrillo-yn-Rhos was scheduled to take place during the summer holidays.... “This involved undertaking a pre-refurbishment survey, which included an assessment to confirm the presence or otherwise of asbestos.

“As expected, in line with the Schools Asbestos Register, Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were identified and the appropriate management processes were implemented to ensure that any risks were mitigated. As an additional safeguard the survey was extended to the whole school. The headteacher has been kept informed and air monitoring has been on-going and will continue on a regular basis to ensure air quality. .. “Further work will take place at October half-term.”.. Conwy council added that they were managing the asbestos in order to reduce risk, but did not confirm whether or not any of the materials will be moved.
Kent OnLine
27 Aug
Dr Mc Kenna "The argument is that it is perfectly acceptable to block it in as best as you can to prevent the fibres escaping, effectively you cover it up. What would be very useful would be to have regular air monitoring in schools so that you get a very accurate picture of the precise level of asbestos fibres at that time when the children are moving around the school."

Comment: the article describes the increased deaths from mesothelioma in Kent. Giving figures for Medway, Ashford, Canterbury, Datford, Dover, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Shepway, Swale, Thanet, Tonbridge, and Tunbridge Wells

South Yorkshire, Plymouth, Fareham, Tyneside, North West
27 Aug
Each paper has figures for asbestos related cancern in its area and compares its mortality rate with the rest of the country. They recognise the legacy of heavy industry in making for high death rates in their area, but also draw attention to those exposed in schools who have never worked in heavy industry. South Yorkshire Times..... The Herald: Plymouth......- The News, Fareham...... Chronicle Live North and South Tyneside, Newcastle on Tyne, Sunderland, Northumberland, County Durham, Gateshead ........ North West Evening Mail
Scunthorpe Telegraph
25 Aug
School's asbestos roof to be replaced... Normanby By Spital County Primary School's asbestos slated roof is nearing the end of its useful life
North West Evening Mail
26 Aug
Shocking new figures reveal more people are dying of asbestos-related lung cancer in Barrow than anywhere else in England and Wales. "So although the numbers due to shipyard causes are dropping because of the asbestos ban in 1999, and even before that the shipyard realised and started taking regulation seriously, it's not going away.  "And we're seeing an increasing number of school teachers die from asbestos cancer because over half our schools have got asbestos in. ... "So we really need some action to try and address this problem as not being historical - it's changing, but it's still with us."
Rossendale Free Press
14 Aug
Lancashire County Council provided the details under a Free Press Freedom of Information request : More than two-thirds of all schools in Rossendale contain asbestos... . Of the 41 state-run primary and secondary schools in the borough, 29 contain some asbestos materials. Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, was shocked by the figure. He said: “I can’t believe we are allowing asbestos to continue where children are. “At some point it will have to be removed and it should be done sooner rather than later.”

Rossendale schools containing asbestos: Holy Trinity Stacksteads CE Bacup, Newchurch St Nicholas CE Rawtenstall, Newchurch St Peter’s RC Primary School Rawtenstall, Northern Primary School Bacup, Our Lady & St Anselm’s RC Whitworth, Rawtenstall St Mary’s CE Primary School Rawtenstall, St Bartholomew’s CE Primary Whitworth, St Paul’s Constable Lee CE Rawtenstall, Staghills Nursery Newchurch Newchurch, Stonefold St John’s CE Primary Haslingden, Stubbins Primary School Ramsbottom, Thorn Primary School Bacup, Tonacliffe Primary School Whitworth, Tor View Community Haslingden, Tor View Community (Ewood) Haslingden, Water Primary School Water, Whitworth Community High Whitworth, All Saints Catholic Language Rawtenstall, St Joseph’s RC Primary School Bacup, St Mary’s RC Primary School Bacup, Balladen Community Primary Rawtenstall, Britannia Community Primary Bacup, Broadway Primary School Haslingden, Crawshawbooth Primary School Crawshawbooth, Fearns Community Sports Bacup, Haslingden High School Haslingden, Haslingden Primary School Haslingden, Helmshore Primary School Helmshore, Hillside Nursery School Haslingden,

Rossendale schools without asbestos are listed in the article.

Edinburgh News
5 Aug
Lothian Councils pay £700,000 to asbestos victims... It was regularly used in buildings from the 1950s until the late-1990s when it was banned. With the number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in NHS Lothian more than doubling in the past 20 years, experts warn the number of claims will continue to rise... New figures, released under Freedom of Information, show that the city council has paid out £356,800 in the past five years to victims of asbestos. Midlothian Council has paid out £152,700 since 2008 and West Lothian Council paid out £196,817 in a settlement to an ex-council worker who developed asbestos-related lung disease.

In 2004, Edinburgh spent millions of pounds to remove asbestos from council buildings, including schools and public buildings... Five years later, in 2009, the council was fined £14,000 after exposing ten of its employees to asbestos dust at Castlebrae Community High School.

31 July
A Stockport heating engineering firm were sentenced after two of its engineers were exposed to asbestos while working at a Manchester school. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard Flueclean were contracted to replace boilers in the boiler room of the school. However, two of Flueclean’s gas engineers were exposed to asbestos when they took the side panels off boilers which had asbestos insulation on the boiler casing.
25 July
'Map of shame' shows 86 per cent of school buildings contain asbestos which is a ticking time bomb say campaigners.... The ‘map of shame’ has been drawn up by leading law firm Stephensons and based on Freedom of Information requests providing figures showing that 86% of school buildings contain asbestos. The map is at this link
21 July
More than seven million schoolchildren are learning in asbestos-riddled classrooms, which could significantly increase their chances of developing cancer or respiratory problems in later life. New research has revealed that the home counties are the most deadly areas in the country outside London, with more than 200,000 youngsters at risk in Kent alone. In the capital a heart-stopping 1.2m children attend asbestos-riddled schools, according to figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request (FOI). However, despite the clear health dangers schools have no obligation to tell parents whether or not there is asbestos present on the premises. Kate Sweeney from leading law firm Stephensons said: “Many people still think that asbestos is only a threat to factory or trade workers and this simply isn’t the case. The deadly material has been used in all types of buildings since the 1950s and is still present in the majority of schools in the UK due to ageing stock. "These figures are very concerning and the fact that parents have no right to be notified, even more so. “Asbestos can be easily disturbed with a simple pinprick of the wall when hanging up children’s artwork and have a long term effect on the health of anyone exposed. “These findings make a clear case for parents to have better access to information on the measures being taken by local education authorities and schools to protect their children.”....

At the link is a map of England showing the number of children in each County in England at risk in their schools of asbestos exposure

Daily Record
9 Jul
Sandra Naylor passed away after a battle with lung cancer and husband Iain is convinced exposure to asbestos while at Caldervale High.. an Airdrie secondary school... is to blame.
Independent Asbestos Training Providers
30 Jun
BBC programme highlights the heart-breaking and all too common issue of Asbestos in Schools A recent programme on BBC, Victoria Derbyshire highlighted the all too real issue of asbestos in schools. The item featured three individuals who believe that their mesothelioma was caused by asbestos in schools. Schools are seen as a place of education and development, not somewhere you expect to develop a disease that will take your life from you.
The programme highlights that between 2003 and 2012 nearly 22,000 people died of mesothelioma, for 224 of these individuals their last recorded profession was teaching. How many of those that have died of mesothelioma have worked in schools previously, attended a school where asbestos was present or changed profession prior to their death? The true scale of the problem is unknown. One of the three individuals interviewed who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma; Jenny Davis, who believe she came in to contact with asbestos through her job as a science teacher said she has no hopes but fear not knowing what it will be like when she dies. The programme goes on to state the ¾ of schools in the UK contain asbestos and that legislation requires; as a minimum an asbestos register, monitoring, training and to notify others of the presence of asbestos. The National Union of Teachers has called for the new government to deal with Asbestos in Schools and for a long term strategy to be put in place. The programme is a very informative piece and highlights the concerns about asbestos in schools. We hope that this programme will help to raise asbestos awareness and to start people asking the correct questions if they are unsure.
The Shields Gazette
2 July
A South Tyneside school has a ten-year plan to unite all its pupils on one site, it has emerged. Infant and junior children at St Aloysius Roman Catholic School in Argyle Street, Hebburn, are currently located in two buildings adjacent to each other. The proposal is to expand the junior school site to eventually transfer all infant pupils across. Members were also informed the infant school contained asbestos – although it poses no danger to children. ... “The infant school was built over 80 years ago and is now no longer fit for purpose. The governing body is determined the school move to outstanding as soon as possible …
Uttoxeter Advertiser
25 June
A POTENTIALLY dangerous material which can lead to cancer and breathing difficulties can be found in almost every school in the area... Documents obtained via a Freedom of Information request show that dozens of schools and libraries contain asbestos in Staffordshire.
Nottinghamshire Post
25 June
Council offices built in the 1960s and full of asbestos could be pulled down in a bid to save up to £10 million in refurbishment costs… Nottinghamshire County Council’s CLASP building, in the centre of the County Hall site, has a maintenance backlog of £1.2 million. Surveys of the building, which is known as 'H' Block at County Hall, estimate that it would cost somewhere between £7 million and £10 million to bring the offices up to modern standards. But demolition costs are estimated at £1.3 million, and the council forecasts the annual running costs at £178,000.”

Comment Nottingham County Council built public buildings and schools using the CLASP system. The cost effectiveness of these options for an office block are similar to those for UK CLASP schools containing asbestos. There is a lack of strategic vision in the government’s failure to do the same and analyse the balance of costs between maintenance, removal of asbestos and demolition and properly cater for the short and long term costs of dealing with asbestos. This example illustrates the major flaw of specifically excluding asbestos in the government review of the condition of school property. Maintenance and refurbishing of an existing building can be very expensive because of the high costs of dealing with asbestos and the failure to address the issue factually means that government funding for school buildings is fundamentally flawed.

Ballycastle Chronicle
25 June
CROSS and Passion College has had to close the doors much earlier than anticipated for the summer break after Asbestos was detected in the building..Different types of asbestos need to be dealt with in different ways as even small levels of exposure, if repeated day after day, can lead to diseases later in life.... "This week, Cross and Passion College Ballycastle has undergone intensive building survey work. As a consequence of this work, the need to undertake an asbestos removal programme has been identified. The school has applied for and been granted funding to proceed with this work which will ensure that any further improvements and updates to accommodation can proceed in a timely way, with minimum disruption to the education of our pupils...
Local Guardian
23 June

Croydon Advertiser

Morris Ware died from mesothelioma, a cancer associated with inhaling asbestos dust, in March last year. .. Between 1961 and 1963 he worked for Croydon Corporation, now Croydon Council, in particular on a school and while decorating homes in New Addington.

... he remembered that he had to rub down asbestos roof tiles while refurbishing a school on a road in the borough then known as Scarborough Hill

17 June
BBC News Channel Victoria Derbyshire speaks to teachers dying from mesothelioma having been in contact with asbestos in school. The video is available for 29 days from today. Teachers must be protected from the "scourge of asbestos" in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers has said. Two former teachers tell how they have been affected. "I think it was in the ceilings, and I presume it was in the walls," said Jenny Darby, 71, a science teacher between 1969 and 1996. "So when the [ceiling] tiles came off, the asbestos would come down. I used to stick them back up almost every day." She does not know where she was exposed to the asbestos that caused her mesothelioma - a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to the substance - but thinks it might have been in one of her classrooms. Asbestos was also in her lab equipment.

A 2013 study from the independent Committee on Carcinogenicity estimated more than 75% of schools in England had buildings containing asbestos. The NUT puts the UK-wide figure at 86%, based on a Freedom of Information request to local authorities. Symptoms of the cancer generally take 30 to 40 years to develop. Once diagnosed, however, most people can expect to live between just 12 and 21 months.

Jenny was diagnosed in May 2013 and is hoping her chemotherapy has slowed the cancer's progress. But her husband, Bromley, said they were "on borrowed time". "We're looking ahead maybe six to eight weeks, maybe more," he said, regarding the couple's ability to make plans for the future. ... David said.. "So I never thought I was really being exposed until after being diagnosed. I wasn't aware that by banging doors that could have disturbed some of the asbestos fibres, which I'm now told it could have done. He described asbestos in schools as "a time-bomb waiting to explode", and his main fear is for pupils. "Children will be children," he said. "They will knock, tap, kick balls - no matter what signs you put up," he says.

There are no statistics to suggest how many people might have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure as a pupil, but the Committee on Carcinogenicity suggests a child first exposed to asbestos aged five has a lifetime risk of developing the cancer about five times greater than that of an adult first exposed aged 30.

The government said it would continue to develop more targeted guidance on asbestos management in schools and, where appropriate, fund its removal. A Department of Education spokesperson said: "Billions has been invested to improve the condition of the school estate, with further significant investment to come over this Parliament. This funding will help to ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time."

But NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the government had no "long-term strategy" and there was "still no [government] recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools".

17 June
NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower said the number of teachers dying of the disease is on the rise – with 22 recorded in 2012. .... She said: "Successive governments have failed to address the legacy of asbestos in schools, leading to unnecessary deaths of staff and former pupils. Children are more at risk than adults from exposure to asbestos fibres, due to the long latency period for mesothelioma. It is estimated that around 200 – 300 adults are dying every year as a consequence of exposure to asbestos when they were at school."The review of asbestos in schools policy by the previous Government was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.  There is still no recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools.  Shamefully, the Government’s most recent survey of school buildings deliberately excluded asbestos."
Antrim Guardian
18 June
‘I lost my dad to this terrible disease. Now my children may have been exposed.’ Victim’s fury at asbestos alert... “My father died a terrible death," ... “He had been a big, strong man but he just wasted away in front of our eyes.
“At the very end he was praying for the pain to end.... . I'll never forget it... So Seamus Davis was 'absolutely stunned' when he learned this week that asbestos was uncovered at St Joseph's Primary School in Antrim during routine works..... his own two children had been pupils there... “If I had known that there was asbestos in that school my kids would not have been there. I've seen first-hand what it can do and I would never dream of putting a child at that risk.“All it takes is someone to put a nail into the wall and the fibres can be released. If they are breathed in they can lie dormant for years before they change that person's life forever. To think that thousands of children have passed through there oblivious to the danger is truly frightening. It's terrifying.

“This really should have come to light sooner. I'm disgusted and disappointed that it has not.".... Now the community leader wants to see the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and the Department of Education move quickly to 'do what they should have done in the first place'.“No expense should be spared here. This has to be done right and it has to be done now," he said.“What price can you put on the life of a child? Surely there can be no higher priority than that?“I also want the Minister to wake up to what is at stake here. This disturbing incident underlines why a full survey of our schools is needed now.“The Housing Executive are currently checking their stock for asbestos. Is it not too much to ask that our schools do the same?"

Belfast Telegraph
13 June
Temporary classrooms for kids at school shut by asbestos alert. "It is not anticipated that the school building will be available for use in the last weeks of the 2014/15 academic term."However, CCMS are confident that the necessary works will be completed in time for the school to return to its premises for the beginning of the 2015/16 academic term this coming September." Survey work to establish the scale of the asbestos problem in the buildings is already under way. A CCMS spokesman said he anticipated that remedial works at St Joseph's would be completed in time for it to reopen a the start of the new academic year.
He added that the Department of Education would allocate emergency funds to ensure that the remedial works were completed as quickly as possible.
Belfast Live
11 June
An Antrim primary school has closed as an emergency measure after asbestos was found in the building. Nearly 800 primary and nursery school pupils attend St Joseph's on Greystones Road, Stiles, which shut its doors on Monday. It may not reopen until after the summer break. A spokesperson for the Education Authority, confirmed there is asbestos in the school but it is not known yet whether it is unstable or can be safely removed. It was discovered during a routine building inspection. One dad who has two youngsters at St Joseph's said: "We are very frightened our children have been put at terrible risk. I have one in the nursery and an other in the early school and when I look at them I'm terrified they've been breathing in asbestos. "We were told by the school that it had to close on Monday because of building work. But we've since found out from a local builder that a routine inspection uncovered asbestos and a specialist team will have to be brought in. Word has got out in the building community and that's no way to find out ..."
UNISON Waltham Forest
1 June
Waltham Forest fined for putting employees health at risk.The London Borough of Waltham Forest was fined last Friday at Southwark Crown Court following their pleading guilty to two Charges under the Health and safety at Work Act 1974 section 2(1) and section 3(1), namely failure to protect their employees and failure to protect the public with a further two charges specifically relating to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and 2012 Regulation 4(8) which relate to the failure to manage asbestos in the Town Hall basement.

With the massive cut backs at the HSE and reduction of their enforcement regime the only cases that are being investigated is when something goes obviously wrong, such as in this case. We need action now with a plan to safely remove all asbestos in the coming years to protect workers and especially children in our asbestos ridden schools.... “Our members will be living with the consequences of asbestos exposure for the rest of their lives and the London Borough of Waltham Forest must acknowledge this sorry state of affairs and create a central register of workers who were exposed to these deadly fibres.” Said Bill Palmer UNISON’s Health and Safety Officer.

North Devon Journal
4 June
The Department for Education estimates around 75% of UK schools contain asbestos and forecasts 53,000 mesothelioma deaths in the UK over the 25-year period from 2013 to 2037. However, the Government has resisted calls to carry out a national audit... Michael believes this is due to wariness of causing widespread panic among parents, and the fact the problem is so widespread that to solve it immediately would be enormously expensive. But he said people should not be kept in the dark about the dangers which exist at their schools.“An audit has never been undertaken to determine the extent, type, and condition of asbestos in UK schools,” he said.“In England, the Government even took the decision to specifically exclude asbestos from their two-year audit of the condition of school buildings which was completed in February 2015.” The Government claims the risks associated with asbestos can be kept low if it is managed correctly. Michael argues that asbestos is particularly difficult to manage in schools due to the likelihood of hazardous areas being disturbed as hundreds of children go about their day. He said the gradual removal of asbestos was the answer, adding: “As long as there is asbestos in schools, people will continue to die.”
Swindon Advertiser
26 May
A FAMILY has received ... compensation from two building companies following their father’s death from asbestos exposure while building homes and factories in the Swindon area.... In the comments on the article a correspondent writes: .... My father worked for a local Joinery firm and one of their contracts was preparing desk units for local school science labs. He would regularly cut asbestos using a band saw without any protective clothing or face mask. Again he would come home with dust in his hair that we as children thought was funny!
The Huddersfield Examiner
21 May
A terminal cancer victim fears she contracted the disease after being exposed to asbestos while working at a school in Honley. And now Kirklees Council are investigating her claims. Lorraine Carter, a former cleaner and teaching assistant at Honley High School, is among a growing number of former school workers diagnosed with mesothelioma. Almost 300 school teachers have died of the incurable disease since 1980, with 177 deaths in the last 14 years. Latest figures, for 2012, show 22 teachers died.

Mrs Carter, 62, worked at the school for 25 years. She believes she was regularly exposed to asbestos due to maintenance and building work at the school.

Hartlepool Mail
21 May
Council chiefs have admitted exposing a 19-year-old college apprentice to asbestos during work on an old school building. .. Student Keith Woodhall was on placement in the mechanical department at Hartlepool Borough Council and had been assigned to work on the former Brierton School site – part of which was refurbished to create a unit for challenging pupils, and the rest demolished.
The Guardian
19 May
Schools are facing an asbestos timebomb.... Three quarters of schools have asbestos in their buildings. But some are unable to get rid of it because of disputes about who foots the bill ..... a notice in one of his school’s temporary classrooms. “Warning: Encapsulated Asbestos. Do not cut or make fixings without proper authority and precautions,” … Pupils at West Kidlington primary school in Oxfordshire use this area every day as a cloakroom ….. According to the Local Government Association, disputes over asbestos removal from school buildings are holding up a significant number of projects…. As asbestos removal is expensive, it can form a large part of the cost of replacement. And with so many post-war buildings needing major works, the problem is not likely to go away…. "the DfE does not even know the full extent of the problem because it has not asked." The department recently carried out a survey of school property, but asbestos was specifically excluded from it. “Most schools contain asbestos and its presence can be one of the major costs in maintaining, refurbishing or demolishing a school,” Lees says. “The audit of the condition of school buildings cost £20m, and yet the DfE specifically excluded one of the most expensive items to maintain, refurbish or demolish a school – asbestos.”
East Anglian Daily Times
15 May
A company has been ordered to pay more than £34,000 after “inexcusably” exposing pupils, teachers and staff at Newmarket Academy to potentially deadly asbestos.... South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2012, during works on what was then called Newmarket College, contractors disturbed the carcinogenic asbestos while removing a wall. The work on improving the school’s science block was being sub-contracted by laboratory design and installation specialist Labform. The Cheshire firm was prosecuted after an investigation found the company had not arranged for a detailed survey to be undertaken, as required by law.
11 May
Teachers at asbestos-riddled school launch charity after Government refuses to fund improvements. Teachers at a run-down school have launched a charity website to raise £1million after the Government refused funding to improve facilities. .. Children at Ash Lea school in Cotgrave, Notts, are taught in asbestos-riddled classrooms which should have been demolished a decade ago. Headteacher Dawn Wigley said the online donation page was a "last resort" to give the pupils a proper education. .... "Our main buildings are not really fit for purpose because there are no wheelchair facilities and the ceiling has asbestos in it," she said.
Droitwich Standard
6 May
DROITWICH Spa High School has closed its doors after asbestos was found by surveyors. The team was at the school carrying out preliminary work on new windows in the man classroom block and, during that, they found a low level of asbestos. The area was immediately closed and turned over to specialists who have thoroughly cleaned the area and another assessment will be carried out at the end of the week.
30 April
Fire deaths, cycle deaths and school-related asbestos deaths – while the government acts on the first two, it is scandalously slow to tackle the third, says Kevin Courtney - (Deputy Gen Sec NUT). .. There were 266 domestic fire deaths in the UK in 2013. About the same number of adults die each year as a result of asbestos exposure experienced as a child at school.... there were 109 cycle deaths in 2013. This rightly led to huge concern over cycle safety in London – an intervention from the London mayor, enhanced police activity and much public debate about the need for safety features on goods lorries... But the government has allowed the Health and Safety Executive to stop proactive asbestos inspections of schools. This was despite the estimate of the number of former pupils whose deaths were related to asbestos exposure being more than twice the number of people who die on bicycles a year.

It is clearly right to try to reduce fire and cycle deaths – but why is there so little focus on asbestos? ... And these deaths are in addition to the known mesothelioma deaths among teachers – 22 died in the UK in 2012 alone.... Something as seemingly trivial as a drawing pin in a wall could lead to exposure. However, our recent survey of teachers, covered in SecEd, ... showed that 44 per cent had not been told if their school contained asbestos. Parents also tend to get little information on what their child’s school is doing to manage asbestos where it is present.

We want to see ... a complete national audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in our schools. ..In the short to medium-term, asbestos must be better managed. In the long-term, however, any future government must make real steps towards the removal of asbestos in schools, so that this threat to pupils, teachers and other school staff can finally be eradicated.

23 Apr
NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “There is rising curb of teacher deaths due to mesothelioma. The notion of management of asbestos in schools is not working... We can say something to an adult about how to cope with an asbestos panel, but when you have 30 children there is a real difficulty with demanding good management of asbestos in these circumstances...There are many teachers in schools with asbestos who have not been told that there is asbestos, therefore they do not know where it is. The notion of carefully managing it just does not hold water.”

See other SecEd articles on asbestos

News Shopper
24 April
A former employee of a Beckenham school is demanding they make public surveys which showed the discovery of asbestos. Robert Groves, 54, worked at Harris Academy, in Manor Way, for 10 years as head caretaker before being let go last year. The school is due to undergo building works, and commissioned surveys which uncovered pockets of asbestos, though the school says staff were not exposed. But he says he has been battling for the past few years to get key information relating to the dangerous substance. ... “I lived on site for 10 years. I’ve worked extremely hard breathing heavily in these areas. “It’s probably been there since the 1960s. A lot of people will have been exposed to this unknowingly. ..
The Argus
24 April
Mr Shepherd died last August at the age of 67, only three months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma...Before his death, Mr Shepherd specifically recalled unloading corrugated asbestos sheets to sites, clearing up debris following a fire at Farlington School, near Horsham, and undertaking demolition work at Ockley Brickworks in Surrey. ... Mrs Shepherd, 64, has asked lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help with her legal battle, and is asking for any former colleagues from the 1960s and 1970s to get in contact.
Big Issue
21 April
Tony Gavin, head of Laurence Jackson Secondary School said the decision to exclude asbestos from the survey, which will be used to decide funding allocations to schools, was a mistake. .... Gavin said whoever is elected at the general election should adopt an asbestos removal strategy. “I think this would be a very good idea, especially as many school buildings are gradually being replaced or demolished anyway. “
Tyburn Mail
14 April
Chivenor School set for 11-week closure over summer to allow for asbestos removal. Chivenor School in Castle Vale will be closed for eleven weeks over the summer to allow for major refurbishment and asbestos removal from the ceilings..... Headteacher Darren Mann says that asbestos will be removed from the whole school area. New boilers, a new fire alarm system and a new lighting system will also be installed... The school has been give £200k by Birmingham Council and £500k by government to pay for the work. Darren Mann says: “Although there are short-term negative impacts caused by the closure, in the longer term, this means that improvements that we have planned for the school buildings can be done locally because we will not have to worry about the dangers of asbestos.”
International Business Times
13 April
Asbestos: How drawing pins are killing off UK teachers. Thousands of schools were built between 1945 and early 1980s, using Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMS), such as crocidolite and amosite, with the latter estimated to be 100 times more likely to cause mesothelioma. An HSE report, written in 2004 on the management of asbestos in schools, stated "a high proportion of our present schools contain asbestos and represent the potential to release deadly fibres.

The Medical Research Council in 1997 also confirmed: "It is not unreasonable to assume that the entire school population has been exposed to asbestos in school buildings."

APIL blog
8 Apr
Asbestos in schools. The Government must do better. .. The Government’s long-awaited, and eight months overdue review ‘The Management of Asbestos in Schools’ was published last month. The report calls for funding for the appropriate removal of asbestos, better and more targeted guidance, enhanced accountability for duty holders, and a better evidence base. So far so good.

However, with regard to evidence, an ideal opportunity was missed to establish a firm factual basis from which to plan an effective strategy through excluding asbestos from the Department for Education’s survey on the condition of school buildings. The error is compounded by the review’s failure to rectify this obvious mistake.

Stroud Life
7 April
Jennifer (Jen) Barnett from Painswick, died five months’ ago aged 60 after being diagnosed with the extremely aggressive cancer which affects the lining of the lungs, leaving her husband Nigel and the rest of the family devastated. ..Jen taught at Archway School between 1980 and 1997, where she was known as Miss Shonk, and rose to become head of art before she left to have her fourth child at the age of 42. Her family believes she came into contact with asbestos during her time there when she pinned pupils’ work up for display onto the ceilings and walls… Her husband Nigel said “I am hoping that former teachers or ex-pupils will come forward who may have some knowledge about the asbestos ceiling tiles at Archway School or know of any other asbestos products or materials that were used there. I know that Jen was involved in clay modelling and that the damp cupboard for storing clay items was lined with asbestos board.”She also was believed to have been exposed to asbestos when she cut up a shed as a teenager, the pathologist conducting the post mortem examination was told.
6 April
Parents should be seeking to find out whether their children's school contains asbestos now deaths from the disease are rising, teachers claim today... Figures show the number of UK teachers dying from mesothelioma has risen to 22 a year - the highest rate in the world.  This is up from just three in 1980.
Daily Mirror
6 April
Hundreds of former pupils a year 'killed by asbestos hiding in schools'.... Up to 15 teachers a year are also feared to be killed by mesothelioma, caused by asbestos dust. ... ‘Silent killer’ asbestos is claiming the lives of up to 300 former pupils and 15 teachers a year, a shock report reveals today... Now the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is calling for a national audit of all schools to assess the asbestos risk - a central plank of the Mirror’s Asbestos Timebomb Campaign... Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: ”There has to be a proper audit to determine the scale of the problem... “The dangers of asbestos in schools are obvious. What is needed to truly address the problem is a concerted effort on a national scale... “Political parties must actively engage with a problem which is very far from being addressed and has taken many lives. Children, parents and staff deserve better.”
Daily Mail
Worcester News
6 April
Parents should be aware that children can still be exposed to asbestos in schools, a union has warned. .. Many teachers do not know whether their school contains the substance - which can cause a slow-developing cancer caused mesothelioma... Recent figures obtained through freedom of information requests suggest that around 86% of school building contain asbestos, according to the National Union of Teachers (NUT) with those built between 1945 and 1975 most likely to be affected. .. A small-scale poll conducted by the union found that 44% of members questioned said they do not know if their school or college contains asbestos - often found in ceiling and floor tiles, or window and door frames, while 46% said they had been told that it does and about 10% said they had been told that it did not.

One teacher said the first they knew about the substance in their classroom was when a caretaker came in with a pot and paintbrush and said he was sealing the asbestos panels.. Another said: "Someone drilled a hole in [the asbestos] to put a clock up.".. Asked if parents should ask their schools about the issue, she (Sarah Lyons NUT's lead on asbestos 0agreed that they should. ... "As a union we are equally concerned for children as we are for teachers and support staff, but the dangers for children are more acute because they've got more life ahead of them. ..Ms Lyons added that the issue has always been a concern, but added: "T he asbestos that's in our schools now is getting older and older, so it's deteriorating and if it's in a poor condition then it's in a more dangerous state." ..The poll also found that 20% of teachers were aware that children are more at risk than adults, due to the long latency period for developing mesothelioma.

Sunday Post
6 April

My Sandra was killed by asbestos in school". The grieving husband of a woman who died of cancer after being exposed to asbestos during her schooldays has vowed to carry on her fight for justice. Iain Naylor’s wife Sandra passed away last August, aged 52, following a painful battle with mesothelioma...... He said: “We are angry beyond words that Sandra was exposed to asbestos years after the first warnings went out in 1967 about the dangers in schools.”

The mum-of-two blamed her diagnosis on asbestos dust from building work while she attended Caldervale High School in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, between 1974 and 1979... Sandra was just one of thousands of youngsters potentially exposed to asbestos during their schooldays. Between 1947 and 1975 around 13,000 schools were built when use of the substance was at its peak. The average time from exposure to contraction of the cancer is 35 years and lawyers believe the peak of cases will come after 2020.

Message from Sunday Post: Did you or anyone you know develop mesothelioma or pleural plaques after attending Caldervale or any other school? Call 0141 567 2776 or email jboyle@sundaypost.com

3 April

Yorkshire Post
3 April

The largest personal injury claim was for £210,000 for a retired 70 year old female member (teacher member of NASUWT) from the East Midlands who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013... Between 1973 and 1984, the member had worked in two secondary schools and taught in classrooms containing asbestos that was present in the pre-fabricated buildings, in ceiling tiles and on wall panels... In one classroom, asbestos ceiling tiles would regularly fall down, which the member would have to pick up.In another classroom, asbestos tiles were replaced during term time and during the school day, generating a large amount of dust. Although liability was initially denied by the employer, a settlement was subsequently agreed.

The NASUWT said as the teacher taught science, she also regularly handled asbestos mats

Uttoxeter Advertiser
1 April
PARENTS have been left in fear for their children's health after an asbestos alert at a Uttoxeter school.... Thomas Alleyne High School sent letters to parents of 54 pupils to warn them they may have been exposed to the dangerous fibre while in the school's changing rooms... The letter states: "The wall in the toilet area of the PE block changing room was accidentally damaged."This damage may have caused disturbance of an asbestos fibre or fibres."
THE letter advises the parents to consult their GP and ask for a 'note to be made' on the pupils personal record about possible exposure to asbestos. The male changing room where the incident happened has been closed off. .. It is thought a pupil slipped into the wall and damaged it with his shoulder.
Essex Chronicle
27 March
“Thirty-two Essex schools have been earmarked to receive a share of £367 million of government funds for expansion and repair projects… Of the named schools eighteen secondary, primary and infant schools across the Chelmsford, Maldon and Braintree districts have been chosen for the improvements… Yesterday (March 26) David Laws, MP for the Yeovil constituency and Minister of State for Schools, announced the final allocation of money for school works in this parliament.”

This is a list of schools where building works will take place on identified asbestos. The link provides the full list): “Great Baddow High School, Chelmsford: Roof and asbestos works. Moulsham High School, Chelmsford: Boiler plant replacement and asbestos roof renewal. Moulsham Infant School, Chelmsford: New class lighting and asbestos removal, dormer window and roof repairs. Hedingham School and Sixth Form, Braintree: Asbestos roof renewal.”

Lancashire Telegraph
24 March
TEACHING unions have expressed their concern at the number of schools that contain asbestos in East Lancashire... Figures from Lancashire County Council have revealed that 186 of the region’s schools contain the hazardous building material that was banned from being used in the UK in 1999.. Burnley has 42 schools which house the substance, which compares with 38 each in Hyndburn and Pendle, 35 in Rossendale, 22 in the Ribble Valley and 11 in Blackburn. ... Speaking after the government published a review of the management of asbestos in schools, Lancashire’s NUT representative Simon Jones said: “The report comprehensively fails to set out a long-term strategy for phased removal of asbestos from our schools. “There is no change to the overall view that schools are low risk. “In the run-up to the general election the NUT will be challenging the political parties to set out how they intend to deal with this problem, and holding them to account in the future.”
Worcester News
23 March
Councillor Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families at Worcestershire County Council, said: "There are around 180 schools supported by the county council which are currently recorded as having asbestos containing materials. .. “All buildings have been surveyed and we manage the asbestos in schools in accordance with the approved code of practice to ensure that we comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. “Anything considered to be potentially hazardous is being removed under an ongoing programme."
The Northern Echo
24 March

A council (Durham County Council) says it is managing and monitoring asbestos in its schools, after it agreed to pay compensation for the death of a cleaner following exposure to the deadly fibres. Durham County Council says it is meeting its legal responsibilities on the now-banned material, which was in common use until the 1970s, despite having admitted liability and agreed to pay out to Alan Hamilton over the death of his wife Laura from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in June 2011. Mrs Hamilton worked as a cleaner at Belmont Comprehensive School, Durham, in the mid-1980s, when industrial illness lawyer Philip Thompson, who represents her husband, says not only was there asbestos present, but large amounts of brown asbestos was damaged and therefore likely to give off deadly loose fibres. ....

Mr Thompson said: “We are reaching the stage where instances of people who have worked in schools, or who have attended schools as pupils, are contracting asbestos related illnesses with increasing frequency, and the Government is rightly under increasing pressure to address the matter.” .... “While cases of this kind will never be as widespread as those we saw from shipyards in the region, they are certainly growing more frequent – and people will want reassurance that there is no ongoing danger from asbestos in schools.”

Schools Week
20 March
A long-awaited report addressing asbestos in schools is leaving millions of children and staff at risk, a Labour MP says... John Sheridan, Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said he was “astonished” the government excluded asbestos from its recently completed survey on the condition of school buildings. ... Figures show more than 291 teachers have died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related lung disease, since 1980. But the number of annual deaths has increased from three in 1980 to 19 in 2012. Mr Sheridan, speaking at a Commons debate, added: “There needs to be a proper assessment across the UK of the level and condition of asbestos in the nation’s schools so that plans can be drawn up to remove the worst of it as it continues to deteriorate. “Simply leaving it in place until a school is refurbished will put millions of school kids and other workers at risk.
Pendle Today
20 March
Teaching leaders claim lives are being put at risk after it was revealed more than 90% of Lancashire schools contain asbestos. Figures obtained after a Freedom of Information request reveal as many as 41 schools in the Burnley and Padiham area could be classed as being “at risk”, as well as a further 38 in Pendle and 22 in the Ribble Valley.
Caerphilly Observer
17 March
Eleven schools across Caerphilly County Borough have had asbestos removed.... Caerphilly County Borough Council is part-way through a two-year asbestos removal project for the county’s schools following a budget allocation of £800,000. .. Works are ongoing to see the removal of amosite asbestos products from school buildings following a decision taken by cabinet in July 2014. .. To date, removal projects have been completed at Bedwas Junior School, Cefn Fforest Primary, Fleur de Lys Primary, Fochriw Primary, Hendre Infants, Hendredenny Primary, St Cenydd School, St Martin’s School, Ystrad Mynach Primary, Llancaeach Juniors and Deri Primary. The project is on target to complete the removal programme across all 37 schools by December 2016.
Adult Education International
17 March
The UK government has published the findings of its asbestos policy in schools review after bowing to education unions’ sustained pressure to go public, but critics say if still falls short... In her reaction to the publication of “The management of asbestos in schools – A review of Department of Education policy”, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said that “The report is a step in the right direction, but no more. Better training and guidance is, of course welcome, as is the focus on transparency and accountability of duty holders.” .. However, Blower said the report comprehensively “fails to set out a long-term strategy for phased removal of asbestos from our schools”. ... In addition, she saw no change to the overall view that schools are low risk, despite the report highlighting that, between 2003 and 2012, 224 teachers died of mesothelioma. And the NUT General Secretary also found it “astonishing” that there is also no mention that some adults are dying as a result of childhood exposure at school.
Lancashire Evening Post
18 March
... 90% of Lancashire Schools contain asbestos. 570 county schools contain asbestos. Asbestos present in 66 Preston schools... 50 Chorley schools contain asbestos... Compensation cost to County £421K... Latest available figures, up to November 2013, show that five other claims are still outgoing. Teaching leaders claim lives are being put at risk ... The main teaching unions are calling for urgent action after it was revealed that the county has one of the highest density of schools with asbestos in the country. County health and safety officer Ian Watkinson ... branded the figures “a scandal on a local and national scale.”... Children, teachers and other school workers are being needlessly exposed to deadly asbestos fibres on a daily basis."
i paper
14 March
.. .. No10s initial reluctance to act on the problem of asbestos in school buildings before May's election. "In all of these areas, the block seemed to be outside the DfE, not inside ," he said (Mr Laws the Schools Minister). "It is policy driven by an ideological approach rather than a calm appreciation of the facts and evidence."

Sunday Express
15 March 2015



EXCLUSIVE: Deadly asbestos hiding in nine out of 10 British schools..... But Professor Julian Peto, one of the country’s leading experts on asbestos, said removing it all was not an option as it would “only save” around 25 lives a year ............ He said: “You cannot rebuild all the schools in Britain to prevent about 25 deaths a year. .... However Michael Lees, 67, founder of the campaigning group Asbestos In Schools, who obtained the figures, argued: “We expose a large number of children to asbestos in schools and this is contributing to the terrible death toll.... Successive governments brushed this under the carpet because the disease can take decades to develop.”

Mr Lees, a father of two, from Hardsworthy, north Devon, lost his wife Gina, a primary school teacher, in 2000 when she died aged 51 from mesothelioma. Last week a review ordered compulsory asbestos training for teachers.... Mr Lees said: “The review is a step in the right direction and future policy can be built on it, however it does not go far enough. We accept removing asbestos from all schools can only be done over a long period. We believe the Government should adopt long-term policies to eventually eradicate all asbestos from schools.”

Latest figures show 2,535 deaths a year from mesothelioma in Britain, the highest rate in the world and more than all UK road deaths. Of these 300 are attributed to schools.

Former Northampton music teacher Brian Shaw, 63, is taking legal action over his terminal asbestos-related cancer. He said: “Children in schools today are at risk. My life has been cut short ..."

Patrick Walsh a specialist in asbestos disease cases at law firm Slater and Gordon, said: “Michael Lees’s report clearly demonstrates the urgent need for a government audit on asbestos.” 

Sunday Express (Scotland) 7 April 2013 is also interesting)

Daily Post
14 March
A campaigner calling for action over the presence of potentially deadly asbestos in schools has slated the health minister for Wales for sitting back and waiting for England. ... This is despite member of the Petitions’ Committee Bethan Jenkins AM describing the issue as a “ticking time bomb” during a meeting last month...... Mr Clement-Evans, whose wife works in schools around Cardiff, claimed that children were more vulnerable than adults to asbestos, explaining that a five-year-old is five times more likely than an adult of 30 to develop mesothelioma, a type of cancer linked to asbestos, if they are exposed to it at the same time….. This is because a child will normally live longer and have more time for the disease to develop, he said. Speaking on the day the issue made national news, with the BBC reporting figures suggesting nine out of ten UK schools could contain asbestos, Mr Clement-Evans said: “We know teachers are dying… “One would hope the Welsh Government would take the lead on it. I do not think that is too much for the people of Wales to expect….

We are not calling for the immediate removal of asbestos from all our schools, we are calling for planned removal from the areas it is most dangerous.”

The petition could be discussed in the Chamber in coming months if the Petitions’ Committee are not satisfied with the response from the health minister, Mr Clement-Evans said.

Industry Today
12 March
Asbestos is present in 86% of UK Schools There is now increasing pressure on the Government to assess the scale of the problem and the risks, to adopt a policy of openness and to implement practical policies that will ensure the safety of staff and children in the nation’s schools.
Nursery World
13 March
Government's schools asbestos review 'lacks long-term strategies'. ...... While the Government's review of asbestos policy in schools has been welcomed, unions and campaigners say it does not go far enough to prevent future deaths.... .
9 March
Killer dust asbestos still present in schools. Asbestos was widely used in the building industry in the 1960s and 70s but it was banned in the UK in 1999, after a link was established to a number of different lung diseases. Figures seen by the BBC suggest asbestos is still present in nearly nine out of ten schools in the UK - higher than previous official estimates. It can be managed safely if it is left undisturbed but there have been calls for urgent action to make schools safer, as Tim Muffett reports.
NL Times
3 Mar
Asbestos must be stripped from Dutch homes by 2024 . The Cabinet has agreed with State Secretary Wilma Mansveld’s (Infrastructure and Environment) proposal to ban asbestos roofs in the Netherlands from 2024. This means that the owners of buildings with asbestos roofing must remove it before then.
25 Feb
A Derbyshire group which works to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos is projecting an interactive programme onto a screen half the size of a house. The DAST say that despite Asbestos being banned since 2000 it may still be found in any property built before that date. It is estimated that it is present in 90% of all public sector housing and schools as well as people's homes. Last year the group supported 294 people in the East Midlands who had been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease, 65 of those people were from Derbyshire.
Torquay Herald Express
23 Feb
AN INQUEST has been opened into the death of a 67-year-old retired PE teacher who had been suffering from an asbestos-related disease. Juliette Mary Austin, of Elmwood Crescent, Dawlish, had been exposed to asbestos during her working life, most likely in various gymnasiums. Ms Austin, originally from Holbeach, Lincoln, had been diagnosed with mesothelioma before she died at Rowcroft Hospice on February 15.

Cause of death was epithelioid mesothelioma.

Eastern Daily Press 24
16 Feb

New figures have revealed how victims of asbestos-related diseases have been paid more than £200,000 in compensation from councils around the region over the past five years.. .And local authorities have acknowledged potentially deadly asbestos is still present in scores of schools, homes, libraries, fire stations and other council properties in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire... One of those claims is from a former Suffolk pupil who claims to have developed the condition while at one of the county’s schools. ... Dozens of schools, libraries, fire stations, Norwich Castle and County Hall itself, all contain such materials, the council confirmed.
The Construction Index
16 Feb
HSE app 'Beware Asbestos'. In a statement the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association .. said : “In our considered opinion, this app does not satisfy HSE’s own guidance and gives completely the wrong message to tradespeople who may consider carrying out minor works involving asbestos.... Under the circumstances, we would like to state, in the strongest possible terms, that we cannot endorse this app or support it in any way... we would strongly recommend the removal of the app from the HSE web site before further and lasting damage is incurred.” Other criticisms and the HSE response are at this link
Lynn News
13 Feb
Millions of pounds could be spent on improving facilities at the Downham Academy after the school won a share of a government building cash pot.... Mr Ford said they had identified major problems in 17 of the school’s buildings, including subsidence and the presence of asbestos in the main building at the Bexwell Road site, plus the ongoing need to use 10 temporary classrooms which are leaking and beyond their useful lives.... And he said tackling all of the site’s problems would amount to building an entirely new school...However, he expects that dealing with the subsidence and asbestos problems is still likely to cost millions of pounds alone. " He added: “Our surveyors have indicated it needs to be resolved now. "
Sunday Morning Herald - Australia
12 Feb
Australia: “The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency ... is a key part of that national solution and critical to delivery of the national strategic plan for asbestos management and awareness. This is evidenced by the extraordinary success of the First International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management in Melbourne in November, which was hosted by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency...."
Belgium TV (RTBF)
Belgium TV (RTBF) report on asbestos in schools. Interview with Jim Sheridan MP and Michael Lees is at 30 minutes from the start.
Western Mail - Education Wales Right to know about the hidden killer in schools. The petition, which is now closed, said parents have the right to know if asbestos is located in their school; if it is being managed in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012; and that any information is readily accessible on line. .... "All we are asking is that the Minister for Education and Skills accepts responsibilioty and makes the appropriate information accessible to parents and guardians. Asbestos is a hidden killer... Surely the people of Wales have a right to know about its presence in schools across our nation?"
The Cornishman
29 Jan
Students have been left at risk of injury as a result of schools cutting corners to carry out repairs and maintenance due to a lack of funding. Cornwall Council has revealed a 'dirty dozen' incidents where staff and children were left at risk or in danger of injury. (We) .. asked Cornwall Council for details of when and where the incidents occurred … However the response to this was then censored with just details of five incidents being revealed.

These included Saltash.net School in 2008 organising a window-wall replacement but failing to carry out an asbestos survey prior to the work being carried out by non-registered contractors. And at St Day Primary School in 2007 asbestos was released when a contractor commissioned the installation of new window blinds…. The other incidents include a primary school …which had to be closed down while work was carried out ….  A wall was found to have no structural support and pipe lagging was suspected to release asbestos. At one primary school the council's health and safety team was called in after a contractor failed to use dust suppression methods which meant dust was released during school time.

Cornwall Council said it was not in the public interest to give details of schools, locations and dates of incidents.
Sec Ed
29 Jan
Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “Time is running out to implement new policy on asbestos management in schools before the next election. 
“The DfE has dragged its feet for nearly a year and, although publication of the findings of its review is now expected, in some form, in the first week in February, we have doubts as to whether our concerns will be addressed. Asbestos in schools is a serious problem and all political parties should work together on a national strategic plan.”.... A DfE spokeswoman told SecEd that there was “no set date” at the moment for the publication of the report.
Wales Online
26 Jan
Cardiff Council to fork out £1.2m to remove asbestos from empty High School... The cost of asbestos removal as part of a Cardiff council schools project has rocketed to £1.2m after a “significant” amount was found at Llanedeyrn High School.

Comment: It is ironic that Cardiff council will now spend £1.2million on the removal of asbestos from a school that is about to be demolished. Penarth Council will spend £250,000 extra on removing ‘unexpected’ asbestos from three schools it is demolishing. The fundamental question is the morality of a Government policy that allows generations of children and staff to occupy schools that contain dangerous asbestos and then removes it when it no longer presents a risk to them.  Caerphilly Council have shown they do not agree with this policy and are presently removing asbestos materials containing amosite from all occupied areas of their schools.

The “unexpected” asbestos lagging found in ducting beneath the floors of the Cardiff system built school raises the question why wasn’t this asbestos identified when the school was in operation when surveyors are meant to look in ducting?  It proves that assurances are often unjustified as it cannot be claimed asbestos is being safely managed when no one knows it is there.  The Department for Education argued strongly and successfully against asbestos surveys being made mandatory, and when surveys are done they are often inadequate as all too often schools and local authorities go for the cheapest bids which fail to identify much of the less accessible asbestos.

For further detailed comment on the financial effects on school budgets in England and Wales and evidence of indefensible and negligent decision making see this link

Penarth Times
26 Jan
An extra £250,000 is set to be spent on removing asbestos from three former Penarth schools. .. The Vale Council agreed to spend £200,000 removing asbestos from the former St Cyres, Ysgol Erw’r Delyn and Ashgrove School buildings in November last year. .. But after work began on the demolition of the vacated buildings more Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were ... found in the buildings.

Comment: For further comment see the report above this one and this link

Derby Telegraph
26 Jan
Editorial Derby Telegraph: A Government report on management of asbestos in school buildings should have been published last June, following eight months of consultation between experts.
It has not yet seen the light of day – and now the suggestion is that it will be at the end of February before we get the benefit of knowing what the boffins, politicians and civil servants are proposing to do about it.
So David Trigg, chairman of the Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team, was absolutely right when he said at the weekend that any further delay was unacceptable.
Derby Telegraph
24 Jan
A Derby campaigner is adding his voice to calls for a Government report into the management of asbestos in schools to be published as soon as possible. Originally, the report was due to be published last June, following extensive consultation 12 months ago but now it looks increasingly likely it will be at the end of February.... David Trigg, honorary chairman of the Derbyshire Asbestos Support team, said: "...The evidence is there that teachers, support staff and children are being exposed to asbestos at school and are subsequently dying.... "The Government's report could make a difference and the lives of present and future generations of children and staff in our schools depend on it.”
News SE Wales
16 Jan
No criminal action will be taken following the death of an asbestos removal worker at a secondary school. James Paul died at Cwmcarn High School near Caerphilly in July 2013, and a pre-inquest hearing into his death heard he may have been electrocuted. Gwent Police said a joint investigation will continue, led by the Health and Safety Executive.
Daily Post
18 Jan
More than £430,000 has been paid out in compensation to two asbestos victims. The money has been paid out to a caretaker and a decorator after they were exposed to the potentially deadly substance in the former Clwyd County Council area since 2012, according to information released under the Freedom of Information Act... Last year another £181,000 was paid out after a caretaker working at a school was exposed to asbestos fibres.
Left Foot Forward
12 Jan
A key government report on asbestos in schools was due in June 2014. Yet it still hasn’t been published. Why?  The government’s announcement in 2013 that it would review the management of asbestos in schools was briefly cause for optimism. Consultation took place between January and March 2014 with a report promised for June. But despite calls by teaching unions and many others, this report has yet to be published. The concern is that publication is being delayed because of the cost implications of better management of asbestos…Finally, a leaked DfE document from October 2013 showed that Michael Gove and David Laws wanted to get rid of the Asbestos Steering Group which consists of asbestos experts, union representatives, school governors and local authorities.

It is hard not to suspect that the government, if unchecked, will happily disregard the review into better management of asbestos in schools and the lives that might be saved

Caerphilly Observer
10 Jan 2015
Work to remove asbestos from 37 schools in Caerphilly County Borough is progressing well, according to the council. In July last year, Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Cabinet approved an £800,000 project to remove amosite asbestos from school buildings. The move followed the temporary closure of Cwmcarn High School in October 2012 after asbestos was discovered there by contractors. To date, removal projects have been completed at ten schools including Bedwas Junior School, Cefn Fforest Primary, Fleur de Lys Primary, Fochriw Primary, Hendre Infants, Hendredenny Park Primary, St Cenydd School, St Martin’s School, Ystrad Mynach Primary and Deri Primary. Work is currently underway at Cefn Fforest Primary, Graig y Rhacca Primary, Libanus Primary, Pontllanfraith Comprehensive, St Martin’s School and Llancaeach Junior School.

Once completed the programme of works will see 95% of Caerphilly County Borough schools free from amosite asbestos products within occupied school buildings. The remaining 5% of schools where asbestos cannot be safely removed will have the materials boarded-over and sealed.

Comment: Following the closure of Cwmcarn School, Caerphilly Council took the decision to remove all AIB from places accessible to children in their schools. This is the policy AiS have recommended to the Government, however it is against HSE policy and practice. All the walls in the main block at Cwmcarn School were AIB and many of the ceilings were. There was evidence that the walls had been damaged by the pupils on ‘numerous’ occasions and that there was widespread AIB contamination in the ceiling void. The leaking roof had caused ceiling tiles to collapse into classrooms but the roof could not be repaired, and the electrical services could not be checked or serviced, because of the presence of asbestos. Despite this the HSE concluded that the management at Cwmcarn was ‘good’ and advised the Government it was ‘appropriate.’ HSE’s investigation and conclusions set a dangerous example for other schools and local authorities.

AiS fully supports the policy of Caerphilly Council.

Bristol Post
9 Jan
Catherine Elliott .. is seeking damages from the … Ministry of Defence,… In November 2013, the mother-of- two was finally diagnosed with mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos... After diagnosis …. Mrs Elliott tried to recall a time in her life when she may have been in close proximity with asbestos… In 1981 and 1982, Mrs Elliott worked in the laundry room for the care home, which houses British soldiers who are unfit for duty through injury or old age... Representatives for Gloucestershire County Council also attended the hearing, as Mrs Elliott mentioned in her witness statement that when she attended Grange School as a teenage girl in 1969, a boys school was being built in close proximity, which caused a lot of dust on site
6 Jan
Teacher died from cancer caused by hanging pupils' paintings on classroom walls... An art teacher exposed to asbestos while hanging pupils’ paintings on classroom walls died from lung cancer caused by her work. Jennifer Barnett, 60, died from malignant mesothelioma in September 2014. Husband Nigel Barnett, of Painswick, Glos, told an inquest: “She became an art teacher and worked at various schools, often hanging paintings on walls containing asbestos.”
Lancashire Evening Post
7 Jan
Compensation claims for asbestos in Lancashire hit £687k.... The compensation claims came from victims who breathed in asbestos fibres...It can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, which attacks the lining of organs and is fatal... All but one of the claimants were employed by the county council and all the claims related to time frames from the 1950s and onwards..... Their jobs at the council included roadsman, plasterer, cook, heating engineer, a factory worker and teachers.... The claimants had mesothelioma and asbestosis. Campaigners believe payments are likely to soar over the coming decade as more people fall ill and die after being exposed to the material, often decades ago.

Geraldine Coombs, a partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Asbestos exposure is often regarded as something that only impacts those working within heavy industry, but the presence of the material in so many public buildings such as schools and hospitals, means that more and more people who are not working in traditional construction trades are being affected through no fault of their own. “We have repeatedly called for a dedicated programme to identify any public buildings around the UK that contain asbestos and continue to pose a danger to those working in them, as well as calling for a schedule to systematically remove asbestos from these premises on a priority basis depending on the state of disrepair in each situation.... Given the vulnerability of children to the potential dangers of asbestos – we would suggest schools are given the highest priority in any action that may be taken."

22 Dec
Asbestos in schools is dangerous and the number of deaths is increasing. It is unacceptable, therefore, that the DfE is delaying publication of the findings of its review of asbestos policy in schools, which could set an agenda for change. Please help us put pressure on the DfE to publish the report so that the issue remains in the spotlight in the run up to the 2015 election. Email your MP here.
Gwent News
19 Dec
ASBESTOS has been removed from 10 of the 37 Caerphilly County Borough Council schools found to contain the potentially-harmful material. In July this year, the council’s cabinet approved the £800,000 project which would see asbestos products removed from occupied areas of county school buildings.... Before the project began, arrangements were put in place to manage asbestos in schools in compliance with legal requirements, but the removal work will ensure that the risk of accidental disturbance of asbestos-containing materials will be eliminated.... Projects are also currently in progress at phase two are Cefn Fforest Primary, Graig y Rhacca Primary, Libanus Primary, Pontllanfraith Comprehensive, St Martin’s School and Llancaeach Junior School.

A council spokeswoman said: “The works will see 95 per cent of schools free from asbestos. The remaining five per cent of schools will have the materials boarded-over and sealed.” She added.

Lancashire Evening Post
15 Dec
Primary school teacher with mesothelioma was not warned of dangers. Penny Devaney said: “I was given no warnings, training or information about the risks and dangers of potential asbestos exposure....” Mrs Devaney worked at a number of schools around Lancashire between 1978 and 2004.. .From 1979/80 she spent a number of months at St Maria Goretti Catholic Primary School in Ribbleton, before moving on to the former St Benedict’s RC Primary, Walton-le-Dale, where she stayed until the school merged with St Mary’s RC Primary in, Bamber Bridge. She then moved to Leyland St Mary’s RC Primary where Mrs Devaney remained until 2004.She is suing her former employers for failing to prevent her exposure to the hazardous substance.
Sunderland Echo
14 Dec
The family of a former school cleaner who died after coming into contact with asbestos is hoping to track down her colleagues. Iris Routledge died in November 2012, aged 86.s Routledge had worked at the old Fulwell Infants School, in Sunderland, as a cleaner from 1963 until the 1990s. The school was demolished shortly after she left. After becoming ill with stomach cancer almost two years ago, she died suddenly at the city’s Royal Hospital with the official cause found to be mesotheleoma due to exposure to asbestos.
South Wales Argus
11 Dec
MONEY spent on the closure of Cwmcarn High School for asbestos removal and other works amounted to more than £2.15 million, a report has shown. .... The school was shut in October 2012 over fears its pupils were at risk after asbestos was found. ....But the asbestos removal work was delayed following the death of 26-year-old contractor James Paul, who had been working on the site. An inquest opening heard that Mr Paul, from Abertillery, was electrocuted, with an investigation delaying the asbestos removal. The additional costs of £91,000, the report said, were largely down to the extra two-month stay at Ebbw Vale resulting from additional electrical works needed at the site following Mr Paul’s death.

The report outlined actions that should be taken “to mitigate against a similar situation arising in future”. It said: “In future should any school, within the county borough decide not to take up a Health and Safety service level agreement with the council, arrangements will be put into place to undertake a two yearly site inspection and audit of systems and procedures at such schools. Findings will be formally reported to the head teacher, chair of governors and the director of education with any recommendations for improvement, and progress duly monitored.”

Canberra Times (Australia)
14 Nov
The United Kingdom is in the grips of an asbestos epidemic with the latest projections showing one in 170 of all British men born in the 1940s will die of mesothelioma. While the UK mesothelioma rate is the highest in the world, it is followed on a per capita basis by Australia – with both countries experiencing a projected rise in death rates... New research by the independent regulator the Health and Safety Executive  - the British equivalent of Safe Work Australia - shows that the British death rate to mesothelioma has increased to 2534 in 2012, up by 243 on the year before.... Meanwhile, the latest figures from Safe Work Australia show that in 2011 there were 606 mesothelioma deaths and 125 asbestosis deaths - a total of 731.
Grimsby Telegraph
12 Nov
Decades of exposure to asbestos led to the death of Waltham man David Anthony Stewart Atkinson… The joiner had worked on agricultural buildings, in caravan workshops and as a caretaker at Grimsby College with access to the boilerhouse…… Between 1993 and 1994 he worked as a caretaker at Grimsby College… Asbestos had been removed from the ducting in the boilerhouse…. But he regularly worked on erecting shelves in pre-fabricated huts on the campus…… The walls in which he drilled holes contained asbestos. Grimsby and North Lincolnshire coroner, Paul Kelly, said: “He was exposed to asbestos when working as a joiner and caretaker at various locations. It is plain that during various times he ingested asbestos that was to lead to the malignant mesothelioma and he died as a consequence of an industrial disease.”
BBC Radio 4
10 Nov
A report on the sale, postage and use of World War II gas masks that contain asbestos. They continue to be sold in large numbers on web-sites such as e-bay. The report interviews a re-enactor who says they are used in WWII re-enactments and in schools. Trading Standards were interviewed and both they and HSE appear unable to prevent the sale, postage and use of these dangerous masks. Follow this link to 'You and Yours'. The item starts 22mins 47 seconds into the programme.
Sevenoaks Chronicle
2 Nov
Contractors Willmott Dixon have been given the green light by Kent County Council to level the former Wildernesse school buildings off Seal Hollow Road. The work is the initial phase of a groundbreaking move to create a campus that will ultimately house Trinity Free School and a grammar annex. But education chiefs have admitted the demolition and enabling work has become a major operation even before the heavy machinery has moved in.

Specialists did not anticipate finding large amounts of asbestos packed into the old buildings. It will need careful removal and disposal and could signal significant slippage in the building timetable ...

The Press. York press
14 Oct
A PRIMARY school in Selby has been closed after asbestos was found on the premises. Brayton Church of England Primary School was closed yesterday by North Yorkshire County Council, and remains closed today, after builders apparently damaged some materials which contained asbestos. A spokesman for NYCC said: "In accordance with asbestos regulations the school has been closed while we carry out ananlysis to determine the extent of any risk.
Yorkshire Evening Post
14 Oct
Calls for removal of asbestos in Leeds schools... new figures reveal nearly three-quarters of schools in Leeds contain the dust... Around 190 of the city’s schools contain some elements of the material which could be dangerous if disturbed..... Asbestos, which was often used in construction until it was banned in 1999, has been linked to diseases such as mesothelioma. The daughter of a Leeds mesothelioma victim whose legacy is a research charity, deemed the figures “chilling”.

Kimberley Stubbs, daughter of campaigner June Hancock, said ... The scale is frightening, like all parents I expect my children to be taught in a safe environment at school. “Schools are uniquely subject to lots of disturbance including inquisitive children, pins in walls, kicking of doors and walls. “They also tend to require regular maintenance which again can disturb asbestos and release the dust into classrooms.

“There is no safe asbestos"

Derby Telegraph
11 October
Classroom asbestos dust claimed life of former Derbyshire teacher Joe Gallagher … Mr Gallagher's widow, Maureen, said her husband was unaware the dust which swirled around his classroom was deadly… She said "Joe used to tell me that the asbestos was flying around the room when he reached up to pull out the wood from the racking…. "At that time you were unaware of the dangers….  "People used to say there were safe versions of asbestos and unsafe types, but that is rubbish, there is no safe asbestos."

Mr Gallagher died on September 3rd .. In a statement prepared before his death he said .. it was accepted that I was exposed to asbestos while working at Warslow Secondary School between 1973 and 1988

Express and Star
3 Oct
A retired school cook died from cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, a coroner has ruled. ..... who added that his mother had also worked in school kitchens before she retired. "She worked through some of the schools while they were undergoing refurbishment, so it is possible she might have come into contact with it that way."
Manchester Evening News
25 Sept
Town hall bosses throughout Greater Manchester are facing a ‘ticking timebomb’ of mounting claims from people struck down with conditions linked to deadly asbestos.... The compensation claims came from victims who breathed in asbestos fibres in buildings like schools, offices and community centres.... It can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, which attacks the lining of organs and is always fatal. ... The number of people killed by the disease has soared by 500 per cent in the last 30 years – with new cases expected to peak in 2020. The number of people killed by the asbestos-related cancer has soared by 500 per cent between 1982 and 2011.At least 1,600 of the region’s local authority buildings – including 700 schools – still contain asbestos, which was widely-used in the construction industry from the 1950s until the 1990s...... It is thought the majority of asbestos victims to date will have been construction workers - although Mr Dring said he expected professions like teachers, office workers and caretakers to be increasingly affected in the future.

“The risks will continue if the dangers of asbestos in our public buildings is not taken seriously..."In an ideal world, asbestos should be stripped from all public buildings, especially schools, where there is risk of children being exposed. In an era of financial restraints, this may not be realistic in the short term... “However, we think local authorities should have a programme and targets for removing asbestos where and when they can.

Wales Online
22 Sept
The project has been praised for helping both teachers and students... The original cost estimate was £1.5m but the final bill to the council is £2.58m, with an additional £1.4m coming from the Welsh Government... But Cardiff council said even with the extra £1m needed it remains within the amount budgeted to the scheme. Part of the increased bill was because the original plan did not include estimates for checking for asbestos in school buildings. Each site needed a detailed survey and where asbestos was found plans had to be redesigned to avoid disturbing asbestos within the buildings. Removing asbestos at Whitchurch High School cost £120,000.

Comment: This is the second major project in recent weeks that has far exceeded the original estimates because of the presence of asbestos. In August it was reported that the costs had escalated in the project to introduce school meals in primary schools because of asbestos. This provides further proof that a comprehensive audit of asbestos in schools is required. The Property Data Survey Programme of the condition of school buildings has specifically excluded asbestos, it is therefore inevitable that any financial estimates will be equally flawed:“ English councils report £25m shortfall on free school meals programme Local Government Association says funding to bring kitchens up to scratch has fallen short in almost half of local authority areas .... The LGA ..... said there was concern that the government money would not be enough and costs had been underestimated – for example to strip asbestos from older schools

Walsall Advertiser
19 Sept
Brownhills School will also benefit from a £180,000 scheme, which will see a replacement of asbestos roofing. The school has contributed £10,000 towards the project… Asbestos will be removed at St Johns Primary School, in Brook Lane, at a cost of £60,000.

Comment: Funds from PSBP 2  for asbestos remediation The Priority Schools Building Programme 2 allows schools to bid for funds where the presence of asbestos causes problems in maintaining their buildings or concerns over safety. The link above is reporting a succesful bid.

" Julie Winn, Chair of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) was delighted to launch the new IATP/JUAC Presentation on Asbestos in Schools. The presentation was developed through a partnership initiative to help raise awareness on the ground in UK schools and colleges of the dangers posed by asbestos. Asbestos was used extensively in the building and refurbishment of UK schools between about 1945 and 1975. Asbestos remains in situ in more than 75% of UK schools and a significant number of schools have been found to be failing to meet their legal duties when it comes to asbestos management. As the number of teachers dying from mesothelioma continues to rise year on year the need to raise awareness has never been more pressing. ....
NASUWT NASUWT Rise of deaths in schools. Schools are not low risk Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “This Coalition has A hazardous and corrosive record of trivialising and deregulating health, safety and welfare provisions, putting at risk working people and pupils in our schools. “The consequence is that recent figures show a rise in deaths at work. Schools can now be set up in disused office blocks and factories. Increased freedoms for schools have led to lack of compliance with basic health and safety provisions. Too many schools remain riddled with asbestos.... Dave Kitchen, NASUWT National Executive Member…said:  “The Coalition’s decision to categorise schools as low-risk workplaces, despite the evidence of the daily risks teachers and pupils face, is appalling.”  
Sunday Express
Aug 31
Carole Hagedorn. Carole had campaigned tirelessly for victims of asbestos exposure. Her dying wish was for Vince to continue her fight. She hoped her death might bring pressure on the Government to act. Some 75 per cent of school buildings contain asbestos, putting children and staff at risk....
Get West London
3 Sep
Parents 'kept in the dark' over toxic asbestos discovery at Harrow school.... Belmont School, in Hibbert Road, Harrow Weald, was expecting to welcome its incoming reception class on September 15, however parents were informed yesterday that the start to their school lives must be delayed due to ‘unforeseen challenges’, which getwestlondon has learned was the discovery of unsafe asbestos, not mentioned in the letter.
1 Sept
Asbestos: The killer that still surrounds us .... It’s been illegal for decades, but asbestos is everywhere, embedded in our homes, schools, offices and shops. It’s now killing more people in Britain than anywhere else in the world....... “Asbestos was frequently used in offices, shops, libraries and town halls for its marvellous insulating and flame-retarding properties. Schools too. In fact many people will have been first exposed to asbestos in the classroom. Up and down the country, in myriad chemistry lessons, pupils have perched their Bunsen burners on asbestos mats. Websites have sprung up to address the issue of asbestos in schools.

Comment: A long and detailed article partly inspired by the death of a doctor from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in a hospital

Glasgow Evening Times
20 Aug
Workmen discovered white and brown asbestos while carrying out roof repairs to Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow's South Side during the summer holidays.... One mum said: "I think it's ridiculous that we had to find out through workmen that asbestos had been found in the school. .. "The council should have been more upfront about it because now we're all wondering what they've got to hide and it makes us suspicious. If we'd had a letter telling us about it, and reassuring us that the school was safe for our children to return, that would have been a much better way of dealing with this situation."
BBC Radio Wales
20 Aug
More than 3,000 students in Wales slept last year in university bedrooms containing asbestos, BBC Wales has learned. Cardiff, Aberystwyth and the University of Wales Trinity St David all confirmed they have rooms with the material. They said that because the material was considered low risk in the rooms, they do not tell students it is there. The British Lung Foundation called this "reckless" while the National Union of Students called for transparency...... Dr Emrys Evans, chest physician and spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation Wales, said he was concerned after their research in 2012 found that "awareness of asbestos in Wales is generally quite low, with just 27% of people able to confidently identify asbestos in their homes". .. "Exposure can often occur unwittingly, and so wherever people live or work they should reliably be informed of the presence of asbestos. Not to do so is reckless," he added
The Guardian
19 Aug
English councils report £25m shortfall on free school meals programme Local Government Association says funding to bring kitchens up to scratch has fallen short in almost half of local authority areas .... The LGA ..... said there was concern that the government money would not be enough and costs had been underestimated – for example to strip asbestos from older schools
Linex Legal
19 Aug
Former School Cleaner Devastated By Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis (registration) The 69-year-old, who worked as a cleaner at Teign School in Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, from 1975 to 1980, has now instructed specialist industrial lawyers ... Mrs Hannah Scott .. recalls significant building works taking place to construct the “A Block” during which time she was required to deep clean the area before pupils went in. .... She remembers that the “A Block” extension had asbestos fascias and soffits and there was a coloured block underneath each window which was made of asbestos board, along with asbestos stud work panelling throughout the corridors.... Mrs Scott is now calling on former colleagues or workers who built A Block at Teign School in Kingsteignton to come forward in a bid to help her legal team at Irwin Mitchell investigate whether more could potentially have been done to protect her from the dangers of asbestos. She said: “When I was asked to deep clean the school after all the building works had been completed there was a lot of dust left behind from the construction work which I swept up. I was never warned of the dangers of asbestos or given any protective clothing to wear...

“We would ask anyone who worked at Teign School in the 1970s and 1980s to come forward as any information they have may prove vital.... “Employers knew about the dangers caused by asbestos long before Mrs Scott was believed to have been exposed to the deadly dust but, despite this, she was not warned or given the appropriate clothing or equipment to protect herself.”

Anyone who has any information about the working conditions and construction of the “A Block” at Teign School, Kingsteignton, between 1975 and 1980 is asked to contact Phoebe Osborne at Irwin Mitchell on 0117 926 1549 or email phoebe.osborne@irwinmitchell.com

BBC News
17 July

A man who claims he developed terminal cancer after being exposed to asbestos while a schoolboy in Devon has been given a council payout of £275,000. Chris Wallace, 36, was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer of an organ lining - or mesothelioma - at 30. Devon County Council has settled a claim from him just a few weeks before the case went to court.
Coventry Telegraph
8 July
A building site at Warwick University had to be evacuated after workers stumbled across potentially deadly asbestos.... Several builders were evacuated during their shift last Tuesday and the site has remained closed ever since.... The workers, who are carrying out a renovation at halls of residence on Westwood Campus, blasted through some desks, releasing the asbestos fibres into the air.... The worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “I am worried – you don’t know what the long-term effects will be. We’re all going to be sent letters to notify our doctors that we’ve been exposed to asbestos... “We all know it’s a killer, and you don’t know if it will start to affect you in 30 years’ time.”

The Health and Safety Executive says asbestos fibres are responsible for around 4,500 deaths each year, and the material is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

Telegraph and Argus
7 July
TWO Bradford schools were given improvement notices by the Health and Safety executive for failing to comply with asbestos regulations... The Health and Safety Executive visited 153 non council controlled schools around the country over several months as part of study to see how aware they were of asbestos regulations. Forty four were given written advice, and enforcement action was taken against 20 of these schools, including Dixons Trinity Academy and Netherleigh and Rossefield School in Bradford. Both were given improvement notices - Netherleigh and Rossefield, which is an independent primary school, for having no asbestos survey, and Dixons Trinity Academy, a free school, for having no asbestos survey or asbestos management plan.
Yorkshire Post
2 July
In a report setting out its demands for the next government the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) warned that more than three-quarters of schools contained asbestos and criticised the construction and refurbishment programme established to replace the Labour-era scheme scrapped by Michael Gove. The Riba report said: “Apart from filling to the brim, British schools are also crumbling, creating poor learning and teaching conditions. “Of the 29,000 schools in Britain, 80 per cent of the stock is beyond its shelf life, and a significant part of the school estate is in poor condition and insufficiently maintained. “The estimated £8.5bn backlog of repairs needed for existing schools are creating poor teaching and learning conditions and potentially exposing children and staff to health risks – for example, it is thought that more than 75 per cent contain asbestos.”
Derby Telegraph
27 June
It is just over 10 years since Derby's worst case of asbestos contamination at a city school. But despite a national campaign to remove the substance, are our children's schools any safer now than they were a decade ago?
For three weeks in March 2004, pupils and staff at Silverhill Primary School were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos dust……. The city council is responsible for more than 100 schools and checks found 75 of them contain the material – as do seven libraries, 11 children's centres, seven nursing homes and 13 office blocks…. Osmaston Primary School, which previously had to close classrooms after asbestos breaches in ceiling tiles, is being refurbished and asbestos being removed…… Lees Brook Community Sports College, in Chaddesden, had to seal cupboards after the backs of them became damaged. It is now being rebuilt and the old school will be demolished….. Derbyshire County Council estimates that 404 of its 416 schools contain asbestos, as do 296 of its other buildings – including libraries, children's centres, nursing homes and offices.

… awaiting a report based on a select committee examination of the Government's policy on asbestos in schools. The committee recommended that: all political parties should work together to solve the many problems associated with asbestos in schools; a policy of progressive removal should be adopted, and a policy of openness should be adopted so that staff and parents are informed of the measures to make their schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.

National Association of Head Teachers
27 June
NAHT calls for better asbestos management training in non maintained schools after HSE inspection results in improvement notices for some.. School leaders’ union NAHT is calling for better asbestos management training for school leaders after a recent HSE inspection round resulted in 13 per cent of the 150 academies and free schools inspected being served with improvement notices. .Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT said:The HSE report reinforces the findings of our recent survey * where we heard reports of inconsistent support for school leaders who share the responsibility for the management of asbestos in schools with no training or expertise in this issue. Local authority cuts mean that specialist support often no longer exists and not all academies and free schools have access to expertise.. “Whilst our members make the best of managing asbestos in their schools, the current situation can leave them exposed, at risk and with inadequate resources to address the issues they face. We made these points in the recent DfE call for evidence to inform their review of the management of asbestos in schools, and we called for mandatory, good quality training for all head teachers, staff and governors. “We also want the DfE to establish the extent and condition of the asbestos in schools and see investment plans developed to remove the worst of the asbestos and ultimately all the asbestos in UK schools..... *survey of NAHT members October 2013.
25 June
Commenting on the HSE’s announcement of the findings of its 2013/2014 asbestos management inspection programme of 153 schools outside local authority control, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:‘This report demonstrates that significant numbers of schools are still not safely managing their asbestos. The fact that 13 per cent of these schools were served with a formal improvement notice is extremely worrying, particularly if that picture was reflected more widely across all schools... Of even greater concern is the finding that nearly half (46%) of the schools visited did not have a comprehensive system in place to ensure that anyone who may disturb asbestos – this could be staff or contractors – is told of its presence... “It is clear that some schools are struggling to meet their legal requirements to manage asbestos safely. Academies, free schools and other independent schools, which cannot rely upon local authority support, are particularly vulnerable.
“Against this background the NUT calls for the re-introduction of pro-active HSE inspections of schools, which were abandoned in 2011. Without these inspections there is no safety net to pick up instances of poor management that expose staff and pupils to risk. There is also no wider intelligence about the success or otherwise of the Government’s policy on the management of asbestos in schools...“The longer the issue remains unaddressed, the more people will be exposed. What is needed is a long-term strategy aimed at eradicating the problem once and for all.”
24 June
Freedoms and Fragmentation put Pupils at Risk. Responding to the Health and Safety Executive’s report following 153 inspections of the asbestos management of schools outside local authority control, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said: “These results come as no surprise... “They are yet another example of where increased ‘freedoms’ in and fragmentation of the system lead to important statutory and good practice provisions being ignored... “It is alarming and disturbing that nearly a third of schools were either given written advice or served with an improvement notice regarding deficiencies in their asbestos management. ..“Asbestos is lethal. It is unacceptable that children and the workforce are being put at risk as a consequence of a failure to put in place mechanisms which monitor compliance with important legislative provisions... “It is equally unacceptable that there is no coherent funded national plan for the systematic removal of asbestos from schools.”

Notes: Of the 153 schools in England, Scotland and Wales which were randomly selected for inspection by the HSE, 44 received written advice or an improvement notice (29%). As a comparison, in a recent HSE inspection of 400 small and medium sized businesses 6% had enforcement action taken against them over their asbestos management. Improvement notices were issued for a range of deficiencies including:

Not having a written asbestos management plan ~  failing to undertake an assessment of the presence of asbestos ~ failure to effectively manage the risk of asbestos ~ inadequate training of maintenance personnel. 

The Construction Index
30 June
Twenty schools have received improvement notices from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) because of their inadequate control of asbestos hazards. The HSE undertook a schools inspection programme last year to check up on asbestos issues and has now published the results. HSE inspected a sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014. These included independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
The majority of schools inspected (71%) required either no further action or were given straightforward, simple advice. However, 29% (44 schools) received written advice from HSE, and 13% (20 schools) were subject to enforcement action, in the form of improvement notices.
The Northern Echo
9 June 2014
A FORMER school assistant diagnosed with a terminal asbestos-related cancer is appealing to former colleagues to help an investigation into her exposure. Catherine Robson, 59, from Sacriston, County Durham, was diagnosed last Christmas with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure..... . Mrs Robson worked at Bullion Lane Primary School, Chester-le-Street, from September 1990 to July 1991 and again from November 1994 to March 2008. Mrs Robson, then known as Catherine Foster, recalls parts of the school were later found to have asbestos in it. ....She also believes she may have been exposed to asbestos while helping with her father's dusty work overalls. Her dad, Arthur Carter, worked for Elliott Bros Limited at ICI Billingham between October 1965 and February 1966 and for Steel and Co Limited from March 1966 to May 1975. Sadly, he died from lung cancer in 2001.

“The course of my illness has been horrendous. Before, I was such an active person and enjoyed walking and going to the gym but I’m now in pain and undergoing chemotherapy. “It’s really hard for my husband, Harry, and I as we have only been married for five-and-a-half years and I thought we would have a long future together.”

Anyone with information should call Isobel Lovett or Emma Tordoff at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0104.

4 June
Gas Masks, D Day and the Asbestos Hazard
Stoke Sentinel
23 May
Stoke on Tent City Council to spend £500,000 demolishing Berryhill High School and Edensor Technology College... Anthony Hollingshead, who lives oppositethe Berryhill site... is keen to see the school demolished after concerns were raised about asbestos in the building... "There have been teams of people going in to look at the asbestos for a good few months now...
SHP - Official magazine of IOSH
28 May
Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard yesterday (27 May) that Angus Group Ltd did not properly manage the removal of asbestos-containing materials at the site of the former Ermine Infants' School on Thoresway Drive, Lincoln, during March 2012.... Angus Group Ltd were sub-contracted to carry out the asbestos removal work on behalf of the contractors demolishing the school, owned by Lincolnshire County Council. The site was being demolished after the school buildings were replaced by a new school....
North Yorkshire News
25 May
Killinghall Clasroom reopens after asbestos ceiling collapse. ..after a ceiling containing asbestos collapsed, the eight month refurbishment of a reception classroom at Killinghall Primary School is now complete.

When the ceiling fell in September 2013 every piece of furniture and teaching equipment was lost and temporary toilets, a staff room, and the classroom were located in Portakabins on the playground.... “When the ceiling fell down none of the children were in there and it was before school, but as soon as we realised it was asbestos we made the call to close the school.

“Health and safety came down and we closed the school on the Friday and reopened on the Monday, but the whole area was cordoned off. .... “The reception classroom was closed but it affected all the kids because they lost a lot of their playground too.”

Safety and Health Practitioner. Official magazine IOSH
23 May
Occupational cancer: death rate shows no sign of waning ... The latest statistics available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicate that about 8,000 cancer deaths and some 13,500 newly diagnosed cancer cases each year could be due to work-related exposures .... Occupational exposure accounts for about 5% of all cancers, making it one of the most important causes of cancer, after smoking and diet/alcohol consumption. Yet for many of the known causal agents of occupational cancers, occupational exposure limits have been specified and are in place, as are highly effective occupational hygiene control measures. However, the level of compliance with such exposure limits is low....

Some other key facts about work-related cancers include: Currently, the leading cause of deaths from occupational cancer is past asbestos exposure.

Kent on Line
21 May
Clueless Jack Conn has been left £2,500 out of pocket after exposing himself to deadly asbestos at a Canterbury school.The 23-year-old decided to ditch his protective breathing mask while clearing the dangerous material from a boiler room at the Canterbury Academy. Amazingly, he was a supervisor on the job and working for a Medway company licensed to remove asbestos, which kills 4,000 people a year and is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
BBC News
14 May
The governors of an east Belfast grammar school (Bloomfield Collegiate) have been fined after asbestos was found in buildings being used as a nursery school.... The judge at Belfast Crown Court said he accepted the school and its board did not breach regulations deliberately, but added: "It is a concern children were being exposed, especially children of such a tender age."... In May 2012, the school carried out a survey of the prep building, and asbestos was found in and around cupboards, shelves, behind the blackboards and in the hallway.... The HSENI (Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland) was notified and it immediately carried out its own examination of the building, where "elevated levels" of asbestos were found. ........ when the issue was raised by the principal in 2011 he was "remarkably proactive". .... he . contacted the HSENI and the person who ran the nursery as well as informing parents and holding public meetings.

Daily Mail
13 May

BBC News

Belfast Telegraph

Comment: You will note the comments of the Historical Association and also the Campaign for Real Education. They are encouraging schools to have the masks made ‘safe.’ If gas masks have been contaminated with crocidolite or chrysotile then it is very difficult to effectively make them safe and it is impossible with the bags.  

Belfast Telegraph
9 May
Grammar school Bloomfield Collegiate admits asbestos health breaches... pleaded guilty to failing to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises by not having a suitable asbestos survey carried out on the preparatory school housed within the grounds of the Astoria Gardens premises in east Belfast.... pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that non-employees were not exposed to the risks of asbestosis... The offences were committed between June 1, 2011 and May 21, 2012 under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978... Since April 1, 2004, following the introduction of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) Order, there has been a duty on those who own or control premises to carry out a survey to identify if any asbestos materials are present... However, it wasn't until May 21, 2012 that the school carried out a survey on the preparatory school which uncovered asbestos-containing materials... Four days later the Health and Safety Executive's scientific services carried out a survey and found high levels of asbestos fibres in the air. They also found asbestos debris in the back of some cupboards.

The survey found that staff, contractors and children using the building were at risk of exposure to the asbestos.

Largs and Millport Weekly News
19 Apr
Concern over asbestos in North Ayrshire schools. Katy Clark, Labour MP for North Ayrshire, sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Occupational Safety and Health. The APPG recently released a revised report on the levels of asbestos that are still to be found in schools across Britain, with recommendations about how to deal with this problem. Speaking about the report, Katy Clark said: “It has again raised the problem of asbestos in schools. It reveals that over 75% of schools in Britain are believed to have asbestos in their structure, and that this poses a very real danger to staff, pupils and visitors, as well as other workers who deal with building maintenance. "This will obviously be a concern for anyone who has attended schools throughout North Ayrshire.“While I am aware that the council do have procedures in place to record the levels of asbestos in all of their properties, the APPG report goes further, and makes several recommendations as to how this matter should be dealt with. "The report stated that the Government should set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools, with priority being given to those schools where the asbestos is considered to be most dangerous or damaged. Standards in asbestos training should be set and the training should be mandatory and properly funded, it also stated. The report suggested a trial should take place to perfect a system of widespread air sampling in schools.... A policy of openness should be adopted ..... and ‘parents, teachers and support staff should be annually updated on the presence of asbestos in their schools and the measures that are being taken to manage it .... pro-active inspections to determine the standards of asbestos management should be reinstated, with a view to reducing future costs.
Click on Wales
9 April
85 per cent of schools in Wales contain asbestos. The health of the nation is at stake. Will someone please take responsibility for it.......

On the 3 March the Education and Skills Minister Huw Lewis wrote to the Chair of the National Assembly’s Petitions committee advising that responsibility for the development of policies for the management and control of asbestos in schools in Wales has not been devolved to Welsh Government.......... On the 24 February, the Minister of State for Schools David Laws unequivocally stated that responsibility for asbestos policy for schools in Wales and the management of asbestos in schools in Wales is a devolved matter for the Welsh Government.

Pattinson Brewer
9 Apr
Workers Memorial Day Monday 28 April 2014. Remember those killed in UK workplaces. Presentations, networking, refreshements 5.30pm to 7.30pm, Unison Centre, 130 Euston Road, London. John McClean, Denise Bertuchi and Susan Murray will lead discussions around asbestos exposure and deregulation. There will be a short asbestos in schools presentation.
NHS (National Institute for Health Research)
9 Apr
Mesothelioma survey closing at the end of April – please take part. An important survey to inform future research into mesothelioma diagnosis, treatments and care will close at the end of April. If you are a person with mesothelioma, a carer, relative or healthcare professional, we want to know the questions which you think need to be answered by research.  Please respond to the survey by midnight on April 30th.
This is part of a project being carried out by a Priority Setting Partnership established by the James Lind Alliance with support from the National Institute for Health Research. The Partnership is asking people with mesothelioma, carers, relatives and healthcare professionals to identify and prioritise unanswered questions about mesothelioma. The results of the survey will be published later this year and will be used to inform the priorities for clinical research.   Please get involved by:
  • completing the survey now at this link
  • encouraging health professionals with experience of mesothelioma, patients, their family members, support networks and carers to take part before the end of April.
You can download a paper copy of the survey from the website, or request one via jla@soton.ac.uk or by telephoning 023 80 595489.   Further information about this project is at this link

Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group
1 April

Lisa Singh, an Australian Labor Party Senator (representing Tasmania) will be speaking in Liverpool on Tuesday 15th April 2014. Lisa is a driving force in pushing the Australian Government to address the appalling asbestos legacy in Australia.... she co-founded the Parliamentary Group on Asbestos Related Disease (PGARD) in 2011. This group allows Parliamentarians to come together to raise awareness and to stop the burden of asbestos related diseases. As a result, in 2013 the Australian Government showed decisive leadership by establishing the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency in order to protect Australians and to work towards the elimination of asbestos-related diseases. This was a positive step forward in creating a national approach to the eradication and handling of asbestos.

Comment: Australian policies prioritise schools and they actively liase with other countries to set best practise. UK is not as advanced as Australia in tackling the problem. UK and Australia have the highest world asbestos death rates from asbestos related diseases.

Southern Daily Echo
11 March
A man from Romsey who spent years working as a caretaker in schools across Hampshire died as a result of extreme asbestos exposure, an inquest heard .....In his statement read out at the hearing Mr Gale gave a long and detailed description of his years working with asbestos materials while working for Hampshire County Council,, Southampton City Council and Eastleigh Borough Council ... Mr Gale went on to work for Prince and Sons before he was contracted at a primary school in Devon working to maintain the school classrooms which included fixing broken window ledges and cleaning pipes – all of which were made of asbestos. ....Mr Gale said: “The school had a huge number of asthma sufferers as a result of the dust.” He wrote of an incident where the water froze in the radiator during the winter and then flooded the room when it had thawed which caused a lot of the adjoining wall and floor to come away which threw a lot of dust into the air. ......“My wife was working there at the time and she was assisting me,” he said. “At the time I was unaware of the danger and at no time was I given any warnings to do with the dangers of asbestos. In my view I would have continued exposure.”

Mr Gale also worked at Mountbatten School in Romsey. “I was responsible for making sure the ceiling tiles were cleaned or fixed if they were broken,” he added. “It had a great deal of asbestos within it; the boilers were lined with asbestos as was the water tank.”Recording a verdict of death of industrial disease, assistant coroner Sarah Whitby, said: “I have no doubt Mr Gale died as a result of industrial disease.”

Recording a verdict of death of industrial disease, assistant coroner Sarah Whitby, said: “I have no doubt Mr Gale died as a result of industrial disease.”

Jersey Evening Post
7 Mar
An inquest into the death from mesothelioma of Keith Shaw, a college lecturer, heard how the buildings he worked in contained damaged asbestos. Mr Shaw had taught engineering and CDT. It is not illegal to import asbestos into Jersey and his widow has called for a ban.   ( The video will only be available for a few days)

You have to subscribe to see the Jersey Evening Post article. This is the link

27 Feb
The Department of Education has launched a policy review on the asbestos management in schools, after it was discovered that children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of asbestos. The move is also the result of extensive lobbying by the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign and the Asbestos in Schools Group - two groups with which UNISON plays a central role. The consultation closing date is 31 March. The review was called by the education minister, following a study on the relative vulnerability of children to asbestos. It concluded that younger children are more vulnerable and at greater risk than adults, because they live longer and so asbestos-related cancer has longer to develop. UNISON welcomes this overdue review.

A recent survey was sent out by all unions to question trade union representatives and members about asbestos management in their schools. The survey was conducted jointly by seven trade unions representing teaching and school support staff, and 83% of the responses to the survey were from UNISON members.

Nearly 90% of respondents had not received such training. Only 8% had received training or information on how to avoid disturbing asbestos in their school. For the remaining respondents (4%), the question was not applicable, because they had responsibility for asbestos management. These figures are much worse than those in 2010, when 58.3% reported that they had not received such training, 22% had received training and 20% didn't know.

...The call for submissions of evidence covers teachers, support staff, asbestos surveyors/consultants, solicitors and people directly affected by asbestos in schools. It is on the gov.uk website


Leicester Mercury
27 Feb
King Richard lll Infants School, in Leicester, is regularly being monitored for any traces of asbestos.... Work to ensure asbestos fibres are not released into the air at a school has been carried out. It follows the discovery of damaged ceiling tiles known to contain the hazardous material. Health and safety representatives for Leicester's branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) discovered the tiles in the kitchen area at King Richard III Infant School, Leicester, during a visit last June. Asbestos was found in gaps around ceiling tiles, which had been painted with a specialised rubber paint to prevent the release of fibres. However, as the underside of the tiles had not been treated, the alarm was raised that asbestos fibres could get through the gaps.
Mid Ulster Mail
26 Feb
Around 60 schools in Mid-Ulster have been found to contain asbestos despite the threat to health and the link to serious illnesses. DUP MLA Ian McCrae has expressed his concern at the number of schools with asbestos in their building... I could not help but be shocked to learn that over 60 of our schools still have the material present in their buildings... I feel it is incumbent for the Education Minister to remove and eradicate any material containing asbestos from our schools, as I feel that no risk is better than little risk,”
Derby Telegraph
25 Feb
Asbestos scare at Aldercar Community School .....An extra £400,000 needs to be found to rebuild a Derbyshire secondary school after "significant levels" of asbestos were found. The £7 million rebuilding project at Aldercar Community School is expected to cost the extra £400,000 because of increased demolition costs and significant levels of asbestos which need to be cleared. The Langley Mill school has some of the worst conditions of any school in the county and these mainly relate to a lightweight timber-frame building "that is past its useful life", according to a Derbyshire County Council report. On-going repairs, which will continue while work is being carried out over the next two years, are also expected to push up the costs.

Local Guardian
24 Feb

A widower whose wife died after being exposed to asbestos at work is appealing to her ex-colleagues for information on working conditions. Former playgroup worker Margaret James, of Wandsworth, died of mesothelioma aged 70 in October 2013. The mum of two was a playgroup worker from 1969 to 1996, working mainly at Old Chesterton School, Battersea Park Road. Mrs James believed she was exposed to asbestos when working at the school, which has since been converted into flats. Sometimes boys at the school used to kick the walls and doors in the school corridor, with Mrs James regularly sweeping up debris from crumblings asbestos lagging behind pipes.

Husband Kenneth James, with help from legal experts Irwin Mitchell, is now appealing for former colleagues to come forward with any information they may have on working conditions....... . Anyone who can help can call Alice Humphreys at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0207 421 4730 or email alice.humphreys@irwinmitchell.com.

Coventry Telegraph
22 Feb
Asbestos can be found lurking in more than half of Coventry’s schools, figures show. Some 50 of the 96 council-run schools in the city contain the material which can be dangerous if disturbed. Out of the 80 primary schools in the city, 44 were shown to contain asbestos which has been linked to causing diseases such as terminal mesothelioma and often fatal lung cancer. Six of the city’s eight special schools – ... were also found to contain the material. The data was revealed following a Freedom of Information request by the Telegraph to the council.... .....Health and safety chiefs say the presence of asbestos alone should not cause concern – as long as it is managed properly....

Management of asbestos is the responsibility of head teachers at individual schools. It is each school’s duty to know where it is, what condition it is in and manage the risks from asbestos to employees and others.

Schools in city identified as containing asbestos – January 2014 .. Allesley Primary, Allesley Hall, Alice Stevens Secondary School, All Saints’ Church of England, Baginton Fields Secondary School, Cannon Park, Clifford Bridge, Corley Centre, Earlsdon, Eastern Green Junior, Edgewick Community, Ernesford Grange Primary, Finham Primary, Gosford Park, Grange Farm, Hearsall Community, Hollyfast, John Gulson, John Shelton Community, Joseph Cash, Keresley Grange, Limbrick Wood, Little Heath, Longford Park, Manor Park, Mount Nod, Parkgate, Park Hill, Pearl Hyde, Potters Green, Ravensdale, Richard Lee, Sherbourne Fields Primary & Secondary School, St. Christopher, Sir Frank Whittle, Southfields, Sowe Valley, Spon Gate, St. Andrew’s Church of England Infant, Stivichall, Stoke Primary, Stoke Heath, Templars, Tiverton Primary School, Walsgrave Church of England, Whitley Abbey Primary, Whitmore Park, Whoberley Hal,l Woodfield, Wyken Croft.

Voice - the union for educational professionals
19 Feb

The Department for Education is reviewing its policy on asbestos management in schools and wants to hear opinions and ideas from anyone with an interest in this important subject. “In particular, we would like to hear from those that are involved in the day-to-day management of asbestos in schools, about their experiences and how they think DfE can support schools to fulfil their responsibilities.” To submit a response to the consultation (by 31 March 2014) click here, and/or let us know your comments or ideas below.

Further information: Letter from David Laws MP, Minister of State for Schools, to Annette Brooke MP, Chair of Asbestos in School (pdf)

JUAC (Joint Union Asbestos Committee) is a trade union campaigning committee comprising the six main education unions (including Voice) and four main support staff unions:  www.juac.co.uk. The group’s aim is to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos. All the unions in JUAC are members of the Asbestos in Schools (AIS) campaign:  www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk


13 Feb


Bury Free Press
14 Feb

A Suffolk window replacement company has been fined after it exposed workers to potentially fatal asbestos material during work to replace window units at a school in Bury St Edmunds.... Frames Conservatories Direct Ltd (FCDL) informed Westley Middle school that asbestos panels would be removed by registered contractors and disposed of in the correct manner over the school summer holidays in 2012. However, Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court was told the company was not licensed to work with asbestos. Furthermore, employees undertaking the work were not told they would be handling asbestos, nor did they use any control measures to prevent the spread of fibres. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated after being alerted both by FCDL employees and the school’s headteacher. .. The court heard that concerns were first raised when other contractors noticed suspect material in a floor void and consulted a licensed asbestos contractor who then visited the school. The contractor saw window panels being removed and notified FCDL employees that they were handling materials likely to contain asbestos. Work was immediately stopped and the area sealed off... A licensed contractor undertook an extensive programme of cleaning under strictly controlled conditions in all affected areas of the school. Once completed, air tests were carried out and the areas certified safe for re-occupation... The school spent some £111,495 on environmental cleaning and replacement of teaching aids and other items that had to be destroyed because of contamination.....

“As a result, they exposed workers to asbestos levels many times in excess of the Control Limit. The long term health risks associated with inhalation of asbestos fibres include lung cancer and mesothelioma... It was extremely fortunate that this work took place during the school holiday which meant that there were no pupils on site and few school staff”

Bury Free Press: After the hearing, Nick Templeton, head at Westley Middle, said: “They made a mistake and they very quickly held their hands up to making a mistake. They went out of their way to put everything right in the school and put things right in terms of their health and safety procedures. As a result of that we used them to continue the rest of the work. ...He added the school was cleared of contamination in the summer holidays before pupils returned."

3 Feb
From severe water damage to mold issues to traces of asbestos located in the school's music room, Hinsdale Middle School has had a very rough start to the New Year. 
Halesowen News
23 Jan
ASBESTOS has been found at Earls High School in Halesowen. Three classrooms were cordoned off and the the school closed for two days earlier this month after pipes had burst causing flooding. Principal Tom Johnston said: "Burst pipes from older pipe work buried in the floor of the school caused us to lose heating in A Block and also caused some flood damage in the lowest lying area of the school by our drama studios. "The pipe work below the drama area was tested as soon as the leak occurred and was found to contain asbestos. This is why we closed off this area of the school on the advice of the experts from Dudley Building Services, Health and Safety Hazards
Money High Street
25 Jan
Back in February of 2012, MPs and peers declared asbestos in UK schools a “national scandal” after the Department of Education suggested that as many as three-quarters of schools housed asbestos. .... But, the latest news from SecEd has said that this is a countrywide issue and “the cost of removing asbestos from schools in Wales would make the task “wholly impractical”. This is based on the fact that initial estimates for removing asbestos showed it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds to do properly. .....Figures show that 140 school teachers have died from mesothelioma in the past decade. With 4,000 people in total dying due to asbestos every year then the management and phased removal of the fibres is key. With asbestos surveys and removals costing thousands of pounds just in homes, it is easy to see why this is a worrying epidemic for councils across the country.... If long-term effects are found then compensation can be a lot higher. Anything from £30,000 all the way to upwards of £100,000. But, for now, councils need to worry about the cost of stripping schools across the United Kingdom
BBC News
24 Jan
The family of a teacher who died from asbestos-related cancer is planning legal action against Luton Council. Ian MacDonald, of Harpenden, said he wanted the council to treat all asbestos products with plasticiser. His wife Hazel was exposed to asbestos fibres while teaching at Denbigh Primary School in the town. Her inquest concluded she died as a result of inhaling airborne fibres..... Mr Macdonald said: "I now want to take the matter to court to reverse the council's decision to leave asbestos in place in schools. "For the sake of children the fibres should be covered by a plasticiser to keep them bonded. "Asbestos in roof voids is open to air currents. Our advertising campaign is to raise awareness of the problem and also to gather evidence by recruiting the help of former staff and pupils"...... Out of the 63 council schools in Luton, 59 are recorded as containing asbestos.
The Northern Echo
24 Jan
Middlesbrough grandfather died just weeks after receiving asbestos compensation..... The inquest at Teesside Coroners Court heard that Mr Berry, a retired electrician, was first diagnosed with asbestos-related mesthelioma in 2011 and died last October.... .He worked in schools, swimming baths and later housing which were built with asbestos related materials.
Express and Star
22 Jan
Demands were today being made for all public buildings to be inspected for asbestos after the discovery of the substance led to the closure of classrooms at a Halesowen school. .... .A small amount of asbestos was discovered in a heating supply pipe at Earls High School. Three classrooms and a girls’ toilet have been sealed off while work is carried out to remove the material.... The school was passed from Halesowen Borough Council to Dudley Metropolitan Council in 1974. It replaced Halesowen Grammar School in 1972. ..Councillor Turner..... said: “Additional work has been done for new buildings at the site. II would have thought the council could have looked for and identified the asbestos then. It should have been found and removed a long time ago.”
BBC Sunday Politics Show
19 Jan
About 40 minutes into the programme there is a session on the mesothelioma compensation bill. At the end of that the problem of asbestos in schools is referred to as a "Time bomb". (The programme is available until 25 Jan 2014)
Troon Times
20 Jan
A LOCAL asbestos removal expert has slammed South Ayrshire Council after revealing that kids may have been put at risk. The source, who did not want to be named over fears for his job, claimed that council chiefs took a risk by allowing workers to remove asbestos in Kincaidston Primary School while pupils were in class throughout last week. South Ayrshire Council have denied that the children were put at risk, claiming that work was carried out in a 'segregated area'. Prolonged asbestos inhalation can cause serious illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Despite the council's reassurance, our source described the timing of the work as 'very unusual' and insisted that there was a risk to the pupils. He said: "It's very unusual for workers to be in a school removing Asbestos when the kids are in session. It's the first time I've seen this happen. "It's inside the school and there will be a lot of dust - it's a real risk. "The guys will double bag it but a bag can rip. This is very toxic stuff and - it's being removed while the kids are in school - that's unbelievable."

Comment: The asbestos consultant considers that asbestos should only be removed from schools when they are not occupied. This is good advice and reflects the practice in other local authorities and also the guidance from the Department for Education until 2008 which stated “wherever possible, removal work in schools and colleges should be carried out during the school holidays.”  This is also the policy of AiS and we have asked the Department for Education to reiterate the advice.

In recent years the standards of asbestos removal have improved considerably, however accidents and mistakes do happen even when strict controls are in place. If staff and pupils are present then they could be exposed to asbestos. It is just plain common sense not to take the risk when with thoughtful planning it can be avoided.

The article is misleading when it says “Prolonged asbestos inhalation can cause serious illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.” That is because, with mesothelioma, there is no known threshold exposure to asbestos below which there is no risk. Also this is a primary school occupied by very young children and the Government’s advisory committee on cancer concluded that the life time risk of developing mesothelioma is five times greater for a five year old child that it is for an adult aged thirty.  Because of this greatly increased risk, measures and regulations that might be suitable for other workplaces are not suitable for schools.


The Bath Chronicle
16 Jan
A Bath accountant who lost his battle with a form of cancer linked to asbestos could have been exposed to the substance during his school days in the late 60s. Jeremy Salter, 58, who worked for magazine and internet firm Future died from mesothelioma in July. The only time Mr Salter had been exposed to asbestos was during building work at a school in Hampshire which he attended from 1967 to 1969.... Mr Salter, who lived in Somerton, remembers walking past the area where materials containing asbestos minerals and fibres were being used, before occupying the new buildings.
The Construction Index
14 Jan
A building contractor has been fined £50,000 for ignoring asbestos safety rules after discovering the lethal material in the basement of Surrey school... Buxton Building Contractors Ltd was carrying out refurbishment work at the independent Woldingham girls’ school in Caterham in 2011. It had commissioned a specialist survey to identify the presence of asbestos in the undercroft part of the building, but then failed to act when the results were positive. The firm allowed a number of different contractors to work in the area until one worker raised the alarm himself when he broke through the ceiling and exposed asbestos insulation boarding.

Comment: If this work had been carried out while the school was occupied then staff and pupils could have been exposed to asbestos. This, and many other cases, underline why it is important that, wherever possible, any work that may disturb asbestos is carried out when the school is not occupied.

Glasgow Evening Times
13 Jan
The local authority's own internal auditors have warned that failure to keep comprehensive records means they can't be sure all premises have been checked for the material.In what opposition leaders said was a "damning report", the watchdogs also revealed that policy on how asbestos is managed in Glasgow is more than a decade out of date..... the auditor cannot be assured that all properties have received an asbestos survey. ..."City Property does not receive notification of all asbestos works. ... "The Modus system information is incomplete and out-of-date (for example, demolished schools are recorded as 'in use'), increasing the risk that not all relevant properties are covered by the asbestos review process." The auditors, who were reporting to a meeting of the council's Finance and Audit Scrutiny Committee this week, also found that the city's policy on asbestos management had not been updated since 2003.

Comment: In 2010 Glasgow City Council had enforcement action taken against them by HSE for failing to manage asbestos in their buildings, and in particular in their primary schools.

Lancashire Telegraph
9 Jan
Janet Gent, 65, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012 and believes it is linked to her career teaching in East Lancashire schools. She spent eight years teaching home economics at the former Walton High School in Nelson and then, after the birth of her son Douglas, returned to supply teaching at high schools and special schools in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale. .... “I just feel that someone needs doing about getting the county council to acknowledge their responsibilities. We were never warned that there was any danger — there was never any advice or guidance given to teachers, pupils or parents.” ... Her struggle has been made more difficult because the old Walton High School was pulled down in 2006 and 2007 before reopening as Pendle Vale College. Her classes were mainly held in the ROSLA building, constructed in the early 70s and envisaged as temporary accommodation. “If people remember something small, even work on the walls or the way the ceiling tiles would bounce up and down, then it might assist” .... Her solicitor Joanne Candlish, of Liverpool-based Thompsons, said her firm was beginning to see more and more cases of asbestos exposure linked to school careers. The solicitor can be contacted by anyone able to offer assistance on 0151 224 1644.
Sutton Coldfield Observer
7 Jan
Asbestos has been found at Holland House Infant School and Nursery in Sutton Coldfield during work to repair the heating system during the Christmas break.... The school will remain closed until ‘at least Monday, January 13’.
BBC News
6 Jan
Cwmcarn High School reopens 14 months after asbestos found. The school was closed in October 2012 over concerns its 900 pupils could be at risk after asbestos was revealed in a structural report. ... In July, James Paul, 26, from Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, was working in a suspended ceiling space when he died. It is thought he may have been electrocuted. The Health and Safety Executive is investigating his death.
Burnley Express
3 Jan
Former teacher seeks colleagues in asbestos exposure battle. Lawyers acting for a former teacher at schools in Burnley and Pendle who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma are launching an urgent appeal to trace her former co-workers. Between 1983 and 1995...., Janet Gent, who worked for Lancashire County Council at Walton High School, Nelson, from 1973 until 1981 ... was also employed by Lancashire County Council as a supply teacher at various schools in the two boroughs, including Gawthorpe, Barden, Walshaw, Ivy Bank, Habergham and St Theodore’s High Schools in Burnley and Primet High and Park High, Colne, Mansfield High, Brierfield, Gibfield Special School, Colne and Hendon Brook and Townhouse Schools in Nelson. Joanne Candlish, Head of the Liverpool Asbestos Team from Thompsons Solicitors, which specialises in asbestos related diseases said: “Asbestos-related diseases will cause 3,000 deaths a year and will be the biggest industrial killer of all time.

“We are seeing more and more schoolteachers, support staff and even former pupils diagnosed with devastating asbestos-related conditions caused by being exposed in our schools.

Leicester Mercury
3 Jan 2014
Widow's plea as council reveals asbestos present at 77 school sites in Leicester.... "David's death was so painful. Not even morphine could ease it. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what David went through. We'll never know exactly when he was exposed to asbestos. It could have been in a school or any of the homes and businesses he worked in. I have grandchildren at school in Leicester and I want to make sure they're safe. If I can stop one person from dying from this terrible disease, it will be worth it." .... Since his death, Christine has learned that five more of his former colleagues have also died from the disease...... Andrew Haynes, health and safety adviser for Leicester's branch of the National Union of Teachers, is concerned about the council's asbestos management policy. He said there were worries including how easily asbestos could be damaged, the impossibility of monitoring its condition at all times and the danger of asbestos being released because of deteriorating structures. He said: "All asbestos should be removed from schools, whenever it is found and whatever its form, unless this is completely impractical. Much of the asbestos in Leicester schools could be removed without major disruption. This might be an expensive exercise but we believe people's lives are more important than money."

The article lists the following school sites where asbestos exists in Leicester: Abbey Primary, Belgrave; Alderman Richard Hallam Primary, Beaumont Leys; Ash Field, Evington; Avenue Primary, Clarendon Park; Babington Community College, Beaumont Leys; Barleycroft Primary, Beaumont Leys; Braunstone Frith Infants; Braunstone Frith Juniors; Bridge Junior School, Spinney Hills; Buswells Lodge Primary, Beaumont Leys; Caldecote Community Primary, Braunstone; Carisbrooke Specialist Learning Centre, Knighton; Catherine Infants, Belgrave; Catherine Juniors, Belgrave; Coleman Primary, Spinney Hill; Dovelands Primary, West End; Ellesmere College, Braunstone; Folville Junior, Braunstone; Forest Lodge Primary, New Parks; Fosse Primary, Woodgate; Glebelands Primary, ; Beaumont Leys; Granby Primary, Aylestone; Greenlane Infants, Spinney Hill; Hamilton Community College; Hazel Primary, off Aylestone Road; Heatherbrook Primary, Beaumont Leys; Herrick Primary, Rushey Mead; Humberstone Infants, Humberstone; Humberstone Juniors, Humberstone; Imperial Avenue Infants, Braunstone; Inglehurst Juniors, Newfoundpool; Inglehurst Infants, Newfoundpool; Keyham Lodge School, Hamilton; King Richard III Infants, West End; Knighton Fields Primary, Knighton; Linden Primary, Evington; Marriott Primary, Aylestone; Mayflower Primary, Evington; Medway Community Primary, Stoneygate; Merrydale Infants, Humberstone; Merrydale Juniors, Humberstone; Millgate School, Knighton Fields; Moat Community College, Highfields; Mowmacre Hill Primary, Tedworth Green; Netherhall Special School, Netherhall; New College Leicester, New Parks; Newry Juniors, Saffron Lane; Northfield House Primary, Northfield; Overdale Infants, Knighton; Overdale Juniors, Knighton; Parks Primary School, New Parks; Rolleston Primary, Glen Parva; Rowlatts Hill Primary, Balderstone Close; Rushey Mead Primary; Sandfield Close Primary, Rushey Mead; Scraptoft Valley Primary, Netherhall; Shaftesbury Junior School, Westcotes; Shenton Primary, Spinney Hills; Sir Jonathan North Community College, Knighton; Slater Primary, Frog Island; Sparkenhoe Primary annexe, Highfields; Sparkenhoe Primary, Highfields; Spinney Hill Primary school; St Barnabas C of E Primary, Spinney Hill; St Mary’s Fields Infants, off Narborough Road; Stokes Wood Primary, New Parks; The Lancaster School, Knighton; Thurnby Lodge Primary; Uplands Infants, Highfields; Western Park Special School, off Hinckley Road; Westgate Lower School, New Parks; Westgate Upper School, New Parks; Whitehall Primary, Evington; Willowbrook Primary, Thurnby Lodge; Wolsey House Primary, Beaumont Leys; Woodstock Primary, Beaumont Leys.

Telegraph and Argus
30 Dec
Almost half of Bradford Council schools still contain potentially-deadly asbestos, new figures reveal. And a teaching union fears that with more schools moving out of local authority control to become academies, efforts to prevent staff and pupils from possible harm could be diluted..... The UK Asbestos Training Association has also stressed that it is essential that both school staff and any builders carrying out work on them make sure they know where asbestos is located. ....Ian Murch, Bradford national executive member for the National Union of Teachers, said: “Teachers in Bradford have died of mesothelioma, and families have been compensated on the basis that the exposure happened in the schools they worked in.... It is not just an issue for teachers, it is an issue for pupils, because they are far more vulnerable when they are young.... As with anything these days, there is the issue of having the money to remove it, but it needs to be managed. It can just mean keeping good records of where it is and making sure you don’t disturb it.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
17 Dec
Occupational Asbestos Exposure and Risk of Pleural Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, and Laryngeal Cancer in the Prospective Netherlands Cohort Study .....Objective: To study the association between occupational asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer, specifically addressing risk associated with the lower end of the exposure distribution, risk of cancer subtypes, and the interaction between asbestos and smoking ....

Conclusions: Asbestos levels encountered at the lower end of the exposure distribution may be associated with an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer.

The Age (Australia)
22 Dec 2013
Australia. Schools containing asbestos will be required to place warning signs at their front gate after the Education Department was taken to court and ordered to lift its game following a series of safety breaches.... WorkSafe documents reveal that legal action was recently taken against the department for putting several schools at risk - despite the government previously insisting it had a ''comprehensive system'' to manage asbestos and keep students safe...... Under a binding agreement with the workplace authority, schools that have asbestos will now be required to erect warning signs on gates and buildings; hundreds of audits will be conducted over the the next 18 months; and principals will be properly trained in asbestos safety procedures........
Central Somerset Gazette
13 Dec
A FORMER member of non-teaching staff at Millfield, Shapwick and Edington schools is seeking damages for personal injury, after being diagnosed with asbestosis......Millfield School in Street from 1975 to 1980/81, by Edington School Ltd from 1982 to 1984/85 and Shapwick Senior School (Somerset) Ltd from 1984/85 to 1994.
Belfast Telegraph
20 Dec
Recent stories have raised fears that the message on this killer substance is not getting through. Second World War gas masks containing asbestos being shown to schoolchildren is a worry, and 75% of schools still contain it.Asbestos will not pose an immediate risk unless disturbed, but teachers need to be aware that stapling, or nailing, work to walls could release the deadly dust. And builders need to know there are no shortcuts......
Yorkshire Post
12 Dec
HEADTEACHERS across Calderdale have been warned about the dangers of uncovering asbestos in school buildings following a council probe which discovered health and safety failings..... “Calderdale Council has a very proactive approach to asbestos management in line with the regulations. We work closely with schools, and have an ongoing training programme for school staff – who would contact us about any concerns, however minor
Daily Echo
30 Nov
Campaigners warn more will become ill from asbestos exposure in Hampshire schools. It's a problem that is only going to get worse.” Those were the words of a Southampton asbestos campaigner in the wake of a Hampshire teacher’s death due to exposure to the substance in the classroom.... “This is not the first teacher in Hampshire to get mesothelioma through exposure at school. We’ve seen a handful of teachers that have been diagnosed with mesothelioma over the years. It is an ongoing problem, as around 90 per cent of schools still contain asbestos. The major concern is a child contracting it, but it can take anywhere between 20 and 60 years from exposure to asbestos to developing the disease, so we won’t see the effects for decades.”..... Mr Lees, a founder member of AiS, said: “Exposure in school will contribute a significant amount of ‘lifetime exposure’ because you are looking at people who are more vulnerable.The lifetime risk for a five-year-old exposed to asbestos is five times greater than a 30-year-old.”
BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show
29 Nov

BBC South

Interviews following up Marion Potts death from mesothelioma with Michael Lees, the Work and Pensions Minister, a medical interview and an interview with a member of the public whose girlfriend teacher stapled work to her asbestos classroom walls in the last few weeks. Other reports of other recent experiences in schools and elsewhere. The programme can be played back for the next 7 days at this link. The piece starts 01:10:33 into the programme

BBC1 (South) Follow the link for an interview with Annette Brooke MP, Michael Lees and the NUT on the issue of asbestos in schools.  The report is only on the web until about 5pm today, Saturday.

Daily Echo
28 November

Mirror News
29 Nov

Mail On Line
29 Nov

Teacher Marion Potts killed by asbestos she inhaled in classrooms (28 Nov). Southampton Coroner’s Court heard that the only place Mrs Potts could have come in contact with asbestos was in school walls, where it can be released by something as simple as putting up a display with drawing pins... Coroner Keith Wiseman said: “.. but I understand it’s turning into a matter of major concern. .. I hope all the necessary steps are taken in the future to ensure the elimination of this substance ... Mrs Potts particularly mentioned a variety of occasions such as basic matters like putting up a display with drawing pins where this material would come out of the walls or when they were damaged by pupils. . this is the only possible asbestos exposure identified.” He recorded a verdict of death from an industrial disease. ...Mrs Potts’ husband Michael said “These buildings are 50 years old and asbestos will come out because kids are always running around, banging into things and people stick things into the wall. She was never made aware of these dangers. That annoys me beyond belief .. as there has been a lot of complacency.” City council education boss Sarah Bogle said the council wanted to get rid of asbestos from all schools but did not have the funding. Cllr Bogle insisted the council was on top of the issue but could not confirm how many schools in Southampton contain asbestos. Pete Sopowski, Southampton rep for the National Union of Teachers, said teachers were very concerned about the situation... There’s a huge problem in schools because asbestos is there and is being managed... It’s a case of which schools don’t have it rather than which do. “The best thing to do is to have it totally removed but the Government doesn’t want to pay for it.“It would create jobs as well as protect staff and youngsters. Westminster will pay to have it removed from the Houses of Parliament but not from schools, it seems.” Mrs Potts worked in schools across the country throughout her career, including Hardley School in Holbury – now the New Forest Academy – and Romsey School, where she was head of English until she retired two years ago.

Mirror: Asbestos in school walls killed teacher. She had noticed it being released when she pinned up work or if walls were damaged by pupils, her inquest in Southampton was told ..Caring teacher died after being exposed to asbestos from hanging pupils' work on contaminated classroom walls for 25 years.

Mail: Marion Potts .... died in June after taking ill-health retirement in 2012 - It is not known which school would have exposed Mrs Potts to lethal fibres - Over 140 UK teachers have died of the disease in the past ten years

South Wales Argus
20 Nov
The keys for one of the teaching blocks at Cwmcarn High School have been handed back to staff, more than a year after the site closed amid asbestos concerns. The school was closed in October 2012 after a council-commissioned survey by Santia asbestos management found staff and pupils could be at risk from airborne particles of amosite asbestos. Staff and pupils are preparing to return to the buildings after Christmas, a move which was delayed following the death of 26-year-old contractor James Paul, who had been working to remove asbestos at the school.
15 Nov
BBC Look North explore the dangers of World War 2 gas masks and their dangerous asbestos content which are advertised on ebay and bought by those reenacting and researching the past. The risk to children in schools studying the past.. The report is 6 minutes into the video which is only accessible until 1800 16 November

14 Nov

Birmingham Mail
18 Mov

A Birmingham academy and a glass company have been fined for failing to properly manage refurbishment works and exposing workers to asbestos...... Equitas Academies Trust, the owner and operator of Aston Manor Academy, and Birmingham Glass Services Ltd were jointly prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)...... HSE found that along with not receiving information on where asbestos could be found in the building, ..... They were therefore exposed to loose asbestos fibres.... The incident cost the school £20,000 through decontamination and replacement of floor coverings. Soft furnishings and children’s work had to be disposed of and parts of the school could not be used for the second part of the summer term

HSE Inspector said: “This incident would have been avoided had the academy put procedures in place to ensure that relevant parties understood their duties around minimising the risk of asbestos exposure inside the school... “Although the school had not been under local authority control since 2011, it failed to ensure employees and management received adequate training to make up for the loss of local authority support and ensure that a suitable asbestos management plan was in place.

Birmingham Mail: The site manager told two fitters there was no asbestos in the area in which they were working – despite the fact he could not have known for sure, Mr Thompson said. He said neither of the fitters had been given appropriate training and did not wear protective equipment. The asbestos was concealed in the window frames. Mr Thompson said the men “did one of the worse things you could possibly do” by removing the dust using crow bars, increasing its distribution. Asbestos was then left outside and in a classroom. Mr Thompson said it had been the “most dangerous” kind of asbestos and it was lucky the incident happened during a school holiday.

11 Nov
Schools, history societies and individuals who own World War II gas masks are warned not to handle them or put them over their faces after tests show that asbestos fibres can be released and pose a health risk... Jane Ellison, MP for Wandsworth and Battersea, said: “The Department of Education has received an alert about the danger of handling these old gas masks, filters and carrying bags, none of which should be handled.
5 Nov
The widow of a teacher who died after being exposed to asbestos during 26 years of work at an Eastbourne school has spoken of her relief after securing justice from the local council over his illness. ..Clive Beck, who was Head of History at Ratton School between 1972 and 1998, died ..... around 18 months after he was diagnosed with the incurable cancer of the lining of the lung...Losing Clive to mesothelioma was devastating and my family and I have been determined to get the answers we feel we deserve over his death.. it is difficult to take when nowadays the risks of being exposed to asbestos are so well known. ..Sarah Wolf, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell’s who represented Mrs Beck, said: “Perhaps the most tragic aspect of Clive’s story is that he was exposed to asbestos while doing a job he loved at a school where he worked tirelessly for more than a quarter of a decade.”
The Boar (Student Publication of the Year 2013)
30 Oct
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Boar has revealed that every single bedroom in campus accommodation buildings Westwood and Tocil contains asbestos. ... A number of students have expressed confusion and frustration over the matter, saying that they had not been told that the substance was in the vicinity of their rooms. A first-year student currently living in Westwood anonymously told the Boar: “I am very angry that the University has not informed me that I am living in a room which contains asbestos.Even if it is safe, I should still be told so I am made aware, in case any damage occurs which could expose or uncover it.”
Ed Exec 29 Oct Union urges the government to continue to protect children against asbestos in schools
Voice 29 Oct While ministers ”consider scaling back the Department for Education’s work addressing the issue of asbestos in schools because of budget cuts”, according to The Guardian, unions are warning schools, history societies and individuals who own World War II gas masks not to handle them or put them over their faces, after tests showed that asbestos fibres can be released and pose a health risk.
UNISON 29 Oct UNISON ... is today calling on the Government to give cast iron assurances that budget cuts will not undermine tackling the vital issue of removing deadly asbestos from schools.... Fears that an influential steering group set up to manage and monitor the impact of asbestos in schools is to be disbanded, has led to widespread anger and concern by unions who form the joint union asbestos campaign (JUAC).
Lancashire Evening Post
26 Oct
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Preston was closed for the day before the start of half term amid fears of an asbestos leak. It is understood that the problem arose when a workman putting up a smoke alarm in the school kitchen is believed to have drilled into the material..... “The issue was quickly resolved with the support of the county council and the building was made completely safe for pupils to return..... “Lancashire County Council was able to issue an asbestos safety certificate once the necessary checks had been completed. The Rigby Street premises is one of many schools across Lancashire which were built using asbestos.... The majority of schools which were built before 2000 have asbestos in them but although carcogenic, it is deemed safe if contained.

Comment: Unfortunately in this case the asbestos was not contained and standard minor maintenance appears to have disturbed it in the presence of workmen

Kent Online
24 Oct
Potential dangers to children of asbestos in First World War gas masks has today been highlighted by North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale. He is urging schools to take the utmost care when dealing with the antique masks for illustrative and educational purposes. His warning comes as Britain prepares for major commemorations of the centenary of the Great War. MP Jim Sheridan, chairman of the All-Party Group for Occupational Health and Safety, has flagged up concerns that the masks can release asbestos fibres when they are pulled over faces or handles.
Northamptonshire Telegraph
20 Oct
Chris Bean, of Isham, was a fit, active and healthy man in his 40s when he started experiencing shortness of breath and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. His widow, Anita, said: “Chris was 44 when he was diagnosed. It is a very aggressive, very nasty cancer and the average life expectancy of someone with it is 13 months. “You only need to come into contact with one strand of asbestos to get it and it can take decades to manifest itself. “Chris was an electrician with GF Gray of Rushden when he was younger and worked in schools, garages, shoe factories and other places where he could have come into contact with asbestos. “The Government knew of the risks years ago and I don’t think they’ve done enough to raise awareness of them.”

Mr Bean was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the end of September last year and died on July 5 this year.

11 Oct
A comprehensive school in south Wales which closed a year ago after asbestos was found will not fully reopen until 2014. Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly, is not expected to be open to all pupils until January, but some will return in December.
11 Oct
Workers exposed to asbestos fibres at college. An asbestos expert has been fined after workers under his supervision were exposed to potentially-deadly fibres at a college in Greater Manchester. Steven Kelly was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after three men were spotted without suitable protective clothing in an area of Trafford College in Stretford where asbestos was being removed.
Birmingham Mail 29 Sept

Short cut 'exposed student doctor to killer asbestos' Birmingham widow claims basement route between University of Birmingham and old Queen Elizabeth Hospital was contaminated..... Ian Pardoe said he had been exposed to asbestos dust as he walked basement routes between the University of Birmingham, where he studied medicine, and the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The doctor, a father-of-three and stepfather-of-two, made the link before he died at the QE of mesothelioma, caused by inhaling asbestos dust, aged just 51 in February last year.

Comment: This is the second person who has died of mesothelioma where they consider that they were exposed to asbestos from the asbestos lagging in the basement tunnels of Birmingham University. In 2006 Michael Williams died of mesothelioma. “In Mr Williams’ final year at the University he undertook speed of light experiments as part of his degree course. Those experiments were carried outin a service tunnel, some 90 feet long... The University carried out asbestos dust tests in 2004, 2006 and 2007 on dust residues taken from the tunnel and adjacent basement areas. The tests found all forms of asbestos in the dust: in particular, crocidolite (blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos).”

North Devon Journal
22 Aug
23 Aug ..... A former teacher died following exposure to asbestos while he was working at a Bideford school. Christopher Charlton, 62, worked at Grenville College ... between 1980 and 2008. He was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in December 2011 for which there was no treatment. An inquest heard he was exposed to asbestos contained in book cupboards and a store room at the college. Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland concluded Mr Charlton died of industrial disease: "I am satisfied he was exposed to asbestos and that caused the illness which killed him."
Northampton News
30 Aug
Asbestos has been discovered at the Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School in Northampton... The school was due to open after the summer holidays next Thursday but will instead re-open the following Monday.
Yorkshire Post
24 August
Experts in Sheffield are among only a handful of investigators at centres around the globe examining state-of-the-art viral treatments which could offer hope to patients diagnosed in the future with the deadly asbestos-related condition mesothelioma.
27 Aug
At least 17,000 students slept in university bedrooms that contained asbestos last year, figures have revealed. The substance is harmless when left undisturbed, but can be deadly if damaged and is single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.... Although universities have asbestos management procedures, campaigners have raised concerns that students may not report damaged asbestos because they do not know it is there. Several universities have admitted they do not tell students that there is asbestos in their bedrooms..... Campaigners have already called for asbestos to be removed from schools, with MP Jim Sheridan calling it a "national scandal". In 2011, the Department for Education estimated that asbestos was present in more than three-quarters of schools.
Independent Asbestos Training Providers Newsletter
16 Aug
Asbestos found in 80% of Cheshire schools A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 72 out of 90 schools in Warrington, Cheshire, contain asbestos, potentially exposing children, staff and tradesmen to the deadly material. According to the Warrington Guardian, which made the FoI request, government figures show that an average 70% of school buildings across the UK contain asbestos, but that for many local authorities the figure could be higher. ... Michael Lees, from campaign group Asbestos in Schools, has said: "You are aware that asbestos exists, but you are certainly not aware of the dangers and the fact that just the simple act of going to school, you can die of an industrial disease."
Mesothelioma UK Newsletter
15 Aug
On Page 3 are two articles:

Article One: Australia Implements Bill to Eradicate Asbestos Disease .... Government - 'The time for talk on asbestos is over - the time for action has arrived' ..... The Minister indicated that it is likely that schools will be given priority by stating: 'Obviously, exposure to children is particularly repugnant'.

Article Two: On 7th June the Committee on Carcinogenicity (the Government's advisory committee on cancer) concluded that children are more vulnerable to asbestos, the younger the child the greater the risk. It is estimated that the lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma for a child of five years old is about five times that of an adult aged thirty... Present policies treat schools as any other workplace, consequently workplace regulations and asbestos fibre control levels are applied to children in schools ...... The Asbestos in Schools Group (AiS) have asked, amongst other proposals that an "environmental" level is adopted for schools that is significantly lower than present control levels

British Asbestos Newsletter Issue 90
Article 2
15 Aug
Government Advisory Committee on cancer conclusion: On June 7, 2013 the Government's advisory Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC) published a report that concludes children are significantly more vulnerable to exposure to asbestos than adults..... it is reasonable to assume that up to 300 people a year could die from asbestos exposure experienced as children at school. ...... The CoC report provides the evidence that children are considerably more at risk from asbestos exposure than adults. This should be the overriding factor in the Government's review of asbestos policy for schools. That review must critically examine the policy of managing asbestos and it must seriously question the premise that it is safer for children to spend their school careers in buildings that contain large amounts of asbestos – the evidence is that the policy is tragically wrong
13 Aug
An update from HSE on its activities concerning asbestos. There is a section on asbestos in schools at pages 4-5
South Wales Argus
6 Aug
Mrs Butcher, who died on April 28, 2011, of mesothelioma, worked as a cleaner then as a caretaker at Pengam Primary School, Commercial Street, Pengam, where she was responsible for the heating, which at the time existed as two sites..... on one site sat Pengam Welsh School where it is alleged the gas fire boiler and surrounding pipes were, "lagged with asbestos". The other site was the primary school, where the surrounding pipework of the coal fired boiler was also allegedly lagged with asbestos. ...... the majority of Mrs Butcher's time, who was described as a "very proud and efficient cleaner," was spent cleaning which included the cleaning of both boiler rooms and pipes....... Mrs Butcher's boiler rooms were "hot and dusty" and her cleaning and sweeping up of asbestos dust and debris, which would be left on the floor after maintenance works were carried out, would have, "raised substantial amounts of asbestos dust and fibre in the confined spaces of the boiler room." ..

July 20th


Guardian - 17 June, Express and Star -
14 March

This is the West Country
18 July

HSE report on Cwmcarn
The HSE Report on Cwmcarn School  was published on the 19th July. (Comment: The report sends out a dangerous message to all other schools of the standards of asbestos management and level of risk to pupils and staff HSE consider acceptable. The report is selective and deeply flawed. It runs contrary to the opinions of two firms of asbestos consultants, the Council, an independent assessor, the evidence – and common sense.) See further comments after reports of dilapidated school buildings.

Dilapidated school buildings
Fury as council admits there is no money for Helston College Development... Twelve months ago cabinet members agreed in principle that the scheme would be built, subject to appropriate funding being approved. This would come from the council’s capital programme and officers were told to find the money. ....The promise came after the members acknowledged the school was falling into increasing disrepair, with a leaking roof, asbestos and windows screwed down to stop the glass from falling out.

Lack of investment is delaying vital repairs to crumbling schools... The Department for Education unveiled its Priority Schools Building programme last May as a scaled-down version of the Building Schools for the Future rebuild programme, which was axed after it was deemed too expensive. ... However it has now been revealed the department has yet to secure private investment to help fund work in 219 of the 261 projects in the five-year programme.... schools did not yet know if they would have enough money for a full rebuild or ‘just a lick of paint’ – 10 months after the programme was unveiled.
Meanwhile, the school's condition is deteriorating rapidly. In one block the classrooms are dark as the windows have been boarded up to support the roof. Some classrooms have holes in the ceiling. Further patching-up work is not economical or feasible because of asbestos....

Comment: These schools, and thousands of others, are in a dilapidated condition. As the condition of the buildings deteriorate then so does their asbestos.  They are unsafe. However the funds are not available to bring them up to an acceptable or safe standard.

Cwmcarn High school is in a similar condition but, contrary to all the evidence, HSE have declared it perfectly safe and that the asbestos management complies with the Regulations.  HSE’s actions justify Government’s policies. The Government can claim that, although it is undesirable for pupils to be taught in dilapidated schools, there is no risk to their health and therefore there is no particular urgency in refurbishing or replacing the schools. They are fundamentally wrong.

Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle
5 July
ASBESTOS has halted building works to the controversial Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre development this week. In an email to a resident of Grenfell Tower, which sits in the centre of the major redevelopment, contractors Leadbitters' Community Liaison Officer Liz Jeffs wrote to say that asbestos had been discovered on site.
Daily Post
6 July
Fears of asbestos hazard in schools. It is estimated that 85% of schools across Wales contain asbestos..... The ‘Right to Know’ campaign said there is no guidance issued to local authorities in Wales as to the management of asbestos in school buildings, unlike in England.  The group, which wants councils to publish a register of schools containing asbestos, said the Department for Education put clear guidelines in place in October 2012... The Right to Know campaign wants parents to be able to access a database online to check if asbestos is present in any school, and whether an up-to-date management plan is in place. Two Welsh councils, Monmouthshire and Torfaen, have committed to publishing their asbestos in schools data on their websites.  Mr Clement-Evans said: “The issue of asbestos requires strong leadership from the Welsh Government. Currently, we are not receiving that level of leadership  and it is putting our children and all those who work in schools at risk.”
1 July
UNISON is ready to ratchet up its campaign against asbestos in schools and has prepared a series of documents to help activists, reps and parents who are concerned about the issue, and includes advice on asbestos in warm-air heating systems from a joint union body.

You can download these documents below:

Asbestos in schools - checklist for parents [PDF]
Asbestos in CLASP or system-built schools [PDF]
Joint union advice on warm-air heating systems [Word]

28 June
The government's advisory committee on carcinogenicity (COC) published their final statement (7 June) that concludes children are more vulnerable to exposure to asbestos than adults - the younger the child the greater the risk. With over 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools reportedly containing asbestos, UNISON believes that this statement will raise concerns amongst parents that their children are being exposed to the hidden killer which can cause mesothelioma. Every year over 4,000 people die as a result of past exposure to asbestos. It often does not appear until around 40 years after the person first breathes in the dust. What can parents do? Use this simple school asbestos checklist for parents to find out whether there is asbestos in your child's school, and how the risk is being removed, reduced or managed.
South Wales Argus
18 June
Governors of Cwmcarn High School met again last night in a bid to end a stalemate over who will complete £1 million worth of asbestos repairs at the site. A war of words has sparked between the governors, their specialist advisors Ensafe and Caerphilly council in recent weeks, as each accuses the other of changing its demands, despite £1 million works to remove airborne asbestos being formally agreed in April....... .Ensafe spokesman Greg Kirkman responded that the works were necessary as a consequence of removing asbestos and to comply with building regulations.
Warrington Guardian
14 June
Deadly asbestos is present in 80% of the schools in Warrington, research has revealed. A total of 72 out of 90 primary and secondary schools in the area contain the potentially dangerous material. Information, collected via a Freedom of Information request to Warrington Borough Council also discovered that more than 20,900 school children in the area could potentially be exposed to asbestos in their classrooms on a daily basis.
Safety and Health Practitioner
11 June
Exposure to asbestos puts children at greater risk .. A scientific advisory committee to the Government has concluded that children are more vulnerable to asbestos exposure than adults.. Chair of the Asbestos in Schools (AiS) group Annette Brooke OBE MP said: "In light of the publication of this report, I call on the Government to urgently review their policies on asbestos in schools. The DfE must publish a strategic plan involving an audit of school buildings and an assessment of the risks. Over a period of time the plan must aim for the removal of the most dangerous asbestos materials."

Schools - Health and safety management - The blackboard bungle? - “Since academies were introduced into the British education system some 13 years ago, 2924 schools have either opened or converted to academy status. ... But once they achieve academy status, many new school management teams, it seems, do not realise that they become responsible for their own health and safety measures. In my experience those that have completed, or are undergoing, the transition from state-sponsored organisations to privately-run entities have intricate and confusing health and safety policies, generic risk assessments and teachers who are not adequately trained, or supervised in conducting their health and safety responsibilities effectively. This raises the question of whether schools have been given the necessary tools to properly manage the health and safety side of the academisation process.”

South Wales Argus
22 May
Torfaen reveals schools with asbestos ..List of 32 school buildings containing asbestos has been revealed by Torfaen council. The council has posted the list on its website, detailing which schools contain asbestos, and the plans that are in place to ensure it is managed correctly. Of Torfaen’s two nursery schools, 29 primary schools, seven comprehensives and one special school, totalling 39 building, 32 contain asbestos. The disclosure highlights the council’s support for the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, which is calling for a national online schools asbestos database to be established. It is the second local authority to back the campaign after Monmouthshire council announced its support in November 2012. The issue of asbestos in schools has been highlighted in Wales, following the closure of Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly. Under the Right to Know campaign’s proposals, parents across Wales would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in a school, and whether a management plan is in place.
Sec Ed
16 May
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has written to schools minister David Laws demanding the publication of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report into asbestos exposure at Cwmcarn High... JUAC is angry at a “lack of transparency” after the HSE said it does not intend to make its report of the Cwmcarn investigation public. The letter states “A number of public decisions and statements have been made by HSE, the Department for Education and the Minister, Mr David Laws MP, based on the HSE report of that investigation, but the HSE has now advised that they do not intend to make the report public.“Due to the serious and controversial nature of these decisions and statements and in the interests of transparency, we are writing to you to require the publication of the HSE report of its investigation.“It is the opinion of JUAC that the way that HSE has treated this incident has sent completely the wrong message to other schools about the standards of asbestos management that they consider to be acceptable. The HSE’s lack of transparency and the confusion that has now arisen is unacceptable.”
This is South Wales
14 May
Powys Council finally reveals which school buildings have asbestos.. A schools survey has revealed asbestos is present in a Swansea Valley school, following a complaint to the Information Commissioner.... The building material .... is present in most school buildings built before 2000. The survey confirmed it was present in Maesydderwen school in Ystradgynlais.... AM Simon Thomas, Plaid's shadow minister for education said: "I'm pleased that Powys Council has provided the information requested but disappointed that it took a complaint to the Information Commissioner for them to see sense.
Sunderland Echo
13 May
...Properly managed, asbestos is not deemed to be a risk. However, the concern is that as the civic buildings deteriorate in condition, so does the asbestos in them.....Earlier this year, the Echo revealed how 65 per cent of schools in the city also contained the material. Hetton School has had to shut off a section of its building after adverse weather conditions disturbed the asbestos fibres.

Comment: The article also says "A large exposure can cause mesothelioma". This is incorrect. Mesothelioma can be caused by a small exposure.

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee has written to the minister for schools, David Law MP, calling for a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into asbestos contamination at Cwncarn High School to be released. The unions have also highlighted the guidance produced by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) on the dangers of asbestos exposure from warm heating systems..... In its letter, the JUAC says that "there has been a lack of transparency surrounding the HSE investigation which has been carried out. A number of public decisions and statements have been made by HSE, the Department for Education (DfE) and the Minister .. based on the HSE report of that investigation, but the HSE has now advised that they do not intend to make the report public".... "Due to the serious and controversial nature of these decisions and statements and in the interests of transparency, we are writing to you to require the publication of the HSE report of its investigation."

Derby Telegraph
6 May
Urgent action needed to stop asbestos death toll.... A new report by the European Parliament calls for the removal of asbestos from all European public buildings by 2028. East Midlands MEP Glenis Willmott explains why she backs the move. You may not think of education as a dangerous occupation but 128 school teachers died from the asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma between 2002 and 2010, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive... There may well be more in the future. Derby's coroner Dr Robert Hunter recently told the Derby Telegraph – which has long campaigned to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos – that he fears that many more teachers, nurses, pupils and wives of men in manufacturing jobs could develop diseases caused by the dust.
NUT 22 April
Also follow links below to further reports & concerns

23 Apr: NAHT , IOSH , Head Teacher Update

29 Apr: GMB

30 Apr: Wales on Line

Asbestos in Warm Air Cabinet Heaters – A Warning for Schools - ... Schools are today being sent an urgent warning by JUAC to check whether they have warm air cabinet heaters that might contain asbestos fibres. This warning is essential to protect the health and safety of pupils and staff. The warning follows asbestos fibres being found in warm air cabinet heaters in Cwmcarn High School in Wales in October 2012, which led to the school being closed in October 2012 - and it still remains closed. When tests were carried out at the school by HSL - asbestos experts appointed by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – they found that asbestos fibres were being released from the school’s heaters into the classrooms. The tests on the school carried out by HSL in 2012 confirmed that asbestos fibres were being released at levels of 1,700 to 4,300 amosite (brown asbestos) fibres per cubic metre of air when the heaters were running and were knocked , as would happen if the classroom were occupied. At this level anyone in the room would inhale up to 4,000 fibres an hour. ...

Comment: For a picture of the type of heaters invoved and the full warning from JUAC see this link

17 April
Around £1m is to be spent on a school which shut suddenly after a report said pupils were at risk from asbestos.... Cwmcarn High School closed after a council-commissioned report found that asbestos posed a potential health risk. But in February this year a Health and Safety Executive report said the site was essentially free of asbestos contamination. Another report in March found there was little difference between the two documents, apart from the conclusions.
Epping Forest, Waltham Forest, Chingford, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian
15 April
A safety watchdog has rapped Waltham Forest Council over its handling of asbestos at the town hall..... The news comes as the HSE continues its investigation into the council over the handling of asbestos at all its buildings in the borough. This includes the former Warwick School for Boys site in Brooke Road, Walthamstow, where pupils at St Mary's Primary School were due to relocate until asbestos was also found there last summer.
South Wales Argus
13 April
... Cwmcarn.. councillors will look at ... options. Option four is to remove asbestos and house pupils in temporary classrooms to the cost of £1.048 million, as advised by Ensafe Asbestos Consultants Ltd. This would make the buildings safe for ongoing maintenance and the buildings could be reoccupied by September. This is the preferred option of governors....

Further Information: Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary a senior HSE director gave evidence to the Education Select Committee that Cwmcarn High School was “perfectly safe to reopen.” Expert opinion from two asbestos consultancy firms and Caerphilly Council disagree with his assessment. A report by the Council is highly critical of the HSL report and advice from HSE. It states: “…HSE issued statements essentially based on the report by HSL.….the Council has sought clarification on their position from the HSE, as it is our belief that the scientific analysis, as well as the visual evidence of extensive asbestos debris at the site does not support their conclusions that the site is 'essentially uncontaminated'…. Given all of the above officers have concluded that a return to the Cwmcarn High School site cannot be safe for pupils or staff without the abatement and remediation work being carried out.”

Daily Record / Sunday Mail
4 April

Sandra Naylor has mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer, which she thinks is because she was exposed to asbestos whilst a pupil at Caldervale High in Airdie..... The 50-year-old, whose maiden name is Turner, was at Caldervale High School, Airdrie in the 70s, shortly after the building was constructed.... Sandra attended the school between 1974 and 1979 from the ages of 12 to 17. The average time from exposure to contraction of the cancer is 35 years.... “It is believed her exposure to the asbestos dust came from the work being undertaken in the school while she was there as a pupil.“She has no knowledge of any other asbestos exposure in her life. “The timing of the contracting of lung cancer by our client fits the model case of a lung cancer victim from asbestos who is suffering from mesothelioma.”...

.Sandra was too ill to speak about her case but her husband Iain said: “The last five months since her diagnosis have been extremely difficult.’’

Daily and Sunday Express
7 April
Silent killer in the classroom. CHILDREN'S lives are being put in danger by the failure of Scottish ministers to look again the problem of deadly asbestos in schools, campaigners have warned.... According a straw poll of local authorities, 93.1 per cent of schools in Edinburgh built before 2000 have asbestos in the walls, ceilings or floors. In Fife the figure is 86 per cent; in Dumfries and Galloway it is 67 per cent; and in Falkirk 62 per cent. ........ In East Ayrshire, there are 44 secondary, primary and nursery schools variously containing crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite and chrysotile asbestos, all of which can trigger the aggressive lung cancer mesothelioma. ....... Robin Howie, an asbestos expert from Edinburgh, said: "We have to take much greater care with our children than we do with adults, yet there is no recognition of that from the HSE. ...... "Children are more vulnerable to exposure than teachers or their parents, and are up to 40 times more likely to develop mesothelioma over the course of their lives. ..... "If children were dying at the time of exposure then we wouldn't be having this conversation; the money would be found somewhere. But people are dying 40 years down the line."... He said he would like to see regular airborne testing introduced at every school where asbestos is present.
4 Apr
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said: “It is quite shocking that in 2013 we are still debating the issue of teachers and pupils being exposed to asbestos in our schools. “More than 253 teachers have died from mesothelioma since 1980. There are no statistics for the number of pupils who have died as adults as a result of asbestos exposure at school. Since knowledge and science are incomplete in terms of the vulnerability of children to asbestos exposure, this calls for a precautionary approach to be adopted with schools being acknowledged as ‘unique workplaces..... “The Government needs to follow the lead from the Australian Government which has made a commitment to remove asbestos from schools by 2030. Pupils and school staff deserve the same. Deaths are occurring every year due to successive Government inaction. It has to stop.”’........
South Wales Argus
28 Mar
A meeting to discuss whether or not Caerphilly council will re-open Cwmcarn High School will take place next month. A special council meeting will take place at Penallta House council offices in Ystrad Mynach at 5pm on April 17 to consider how best to manage asbestos at the site. ...... It recommends asbestos removal and remediation works totalling almost £1 million, and says pupils could be taught in demountable buildings while work is carried out. This is the preferred option for the school and governing body....Cllr Rhiannon Passmore, CCBC cabinet member for education said: ..... "We have a duty to protect the health and wellbeing of pupils at the school and must ensure that all options are considered.."
Sec Ed
21 March
.. Asbestos campaigners have called for a full inquiry into the presence of the deadly material in schools after MPs heard that thousands of people could have died from exposure over the decades. It comes as the HSE maintains that managing, not removing, asbestos is still the safer option...,. The all-party House of Commons Education Select Committee was told that a lack of awareness and training about the dangers of the substance had led to a failure by schools to manage their asbestos properly. A Medical Research Council document, presented to the committee, had come to the conclusion that “it is not unreasonable to assume that the entire school population has been exposed to asbestos in school buildings”.
Safety & Health Practitioner - Official magazine IOSH
20 Mar
The Government has confirmed it will review its policies on asbestos in schools once an independent advisory committee has issued its findings on the relative vulnerability of children to the substance. ... COC member and renowned risk specialist Professor Julian Peto ....told the Committee: “It is reasonable to say that something in the order of 100 to 150 mesothelioma deaths a year in women could now be from asbestos exposure in schools in the 1960s and 1970s, and if levels [asbestos-fibre levels] are ten times lower now, then it is reasonable to assume that may go down by a factor of ten in 50 years time. So, under current conditions, there might be 20 or 30 deaths a year in women, and 20 or 30 deaths a year in men caused by asbestos exposure in schools.” ... law firm’s director, John Spencer .... “It is a complete waste of an opportunity that the DfE is currently running a nationwide survey to consider the physical state of England’s schools, and yet asbestos is specifically not included... In an ideal world, we would do all we can to totally eradicate asbestos from our schools once and for all, but in reality we must prioritise funding towards those schools where teachers and our children are most at risk. We can only prioritise action and expenditure if the scale of the problem is fully understood.”
Gwent News
18 March
A REPORT highlighting the extent of asbestos contamination at Cwmcarn High School "vindicates" the council's decision to close it, a Caerphilly cabinet member claimed tonight. A survey by consultants Ensafe sets out the work required to address the problem at the site before pupils and staff can return. In a statement released a few minutes ago, Councillor Rhianon Passmore, cabinet member for education, said of the survey: "I hope the community will recognise we had no option but to temporarily close the school in the best interests of pupils and staff..... This report confirms there is a major asbestos problem at Cwmcarn which needs a considerable amount of time, money and effort to put right,"
Sunderland Echo
19 March
Concern over asbestos in Sunderland schools....... Part of Hetton School is closed off due to asbestos, disturbed when recent high winds disrupted tiles on the deteriorating building...... Concerns over levels of asbestos in schools have been highlighted days before a Wearside MP meets the Education Minister to discuss the problem.
Lancashire Evening Post
16 March
The sister of a former college lecturer who died from an industrial lung disease, has warned that thousands of other students and staff may have been put at risk.Cynthia Clarke of Fulwood taught in the English Department of Preston College for nearly 25 years, having joined the staff in 1971 when it was known as Tuson College. In July 2008 she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. Despite chemotherapy treatment, she died in April 2010 aged 66. While she was alive, Ms Clarke began legal proceedings against Lancashire County Council (LCC), which were settled out of court for a “substantial figure” last summer.....

Mrs Smith added: “My sister wanted to warn people who had worked and been students of Preston College.” Ms Clarke’s solicitor, Ruth Davies, said: “.My client’s case revolved around ceiling tiles in Preston College that contained asbestos. “Quite a lot of these were removed during the 1980s, but my client had already been there over a decade by that point, and there had been people going up into the ceiling space, disturbing the asbestos by fitting cables.”

European Parliament
14 March
European parliament: On 14th March the European Parliament by a large majority (558 votes in favour - 51 against) voted for recommendations substantially supportive of the evidence and recommendations made to the Education Select Committee by the non-government witnesses. The full European Parliament text is at this link. Selected points follow:
  • Calls on the EU to devise models for monitoring asbestos fibres in the air in the workplace ......
  • Urges the EU to develop models for monitoring existing asbestos in private and public buildings ..........
  • Urges the EU to conduct an impact assessment and cost benefit analysis of the possibility of establishing action plans for the safe removal of asbestos from public buildings and buildings providing services which require regular public access by 2028..... competent government ministers should coordinate the action ...
  • Urges the Commission to recommend the Member States develop public asbestos registers ....
  • Urges the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to ensure the effective and unhindered implementation of European asbestos legislation and to step up official inspections ....
Swindon Advertiser
14 Mar
Dr Peter Swinyard, the chairman of The Family Doctor Association, said that building owners have a responsibility to make sure that those who use them are protected. The warning comes following claims that asbestos may be found in up to 75 per cent of schools in the UK. “If you have a building which you may consider toxic of course it is your responsibility to make it safe for whoever uses it be it children or teachers,” Dr Swinyard told Radio Five Live. The GP pointed out that while many buildings do have asbestos in them there is little risk if it remains undisturbed. However, he explained there may be a danger if a warm air heater was present. “If the warm air is being channelled through an area with uncovered asbestos then they may carry fibres and I think every organisation that has a building should have a risk assessment to find out what is going on.”
This is Gloucestershire
14 Mar
Stroud MP Neil Carmichael calls for action on asbestos. Neil Carmichael has called for local authorities, governing bodies and responsible partners to develop better management plans and training for the management of asbestos in our schools, following an Education Select Committee hearing into the issue yesterday

13 Mar
School asbestos warning: full report: A man from North Devon, whose wife died from an asbestos-related disease, has told MPs the government is not doing enough to remove the substance from schools. He was talking on the day a report was released saying more than 75% of state schools contain asbestos.Michael Lees' wife Gina, who was a teacher, died 12 years ago from a lung disease which a coroner blamed on exposure to asbestos in classrooms. Today Mr Lees told the Education Select Committee the full scale of the problem was still not properly known. Our political correspondent Bob Constantine reports
ITV News
13 Mar
Interview .... "Industrial disease could kill children". Michael Lees .... will be amongst those attending a committee meeting today, to discuss the issue of asbestos. Michael's wife Gina was a school teacher, who died from mesothelioma, the form of cancer developed from exposure to asbestos. .... he said: "You are aware that asbestos exists, but you are certainly not aware of the dangers, and the fact that just the simple act of going to school, you can die of an industrial disease."

Also: An education committee hearing will look at the issue of asbestos in schools for the first time today. Seventy five per cent of all schools in the UK have asbestos, rising to 90 per cent in parts of Manchester and Wales... .Currently Britain has no national plan in place for dealing with asbestos, despite having the highest number of teachers dying from asbestos-related cancer, in the world.

Workplace Law Network
12 March
A one-off public hearing related to oral evidence on the problem of asbestos in schools is to be held tomorrow (13 March). ...Adrian Budgen, National Head of asbestos litigation at the law firm, said: “The Government is well aware of the dangers of asbestos, having itself ordered a full programme for the removal of the material from the Palace of Westminster..... “Surely if such action is considered for Parliament, it should also be considered for all other public buildings – particularly schools where our children, who medical experts’ state are particularly vulnerable to exposure, spend most of their days.”..... “It has long been argued that proper management of asbestos in buildings would mean people are kept safe, but recent cases have raised concerns as to whether this is really enough to ensure that risks are fully minimised.”
Worksop Guardian
6 Mar
NOTTS County Council is to inspect 44 schools across Bassetlaw this year for asbestos, the authority has revealed... The Worksop Guardian obtained new figures under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act which show 20 schools in Worksop and 24 in Retford will be inspected this year..
House of Lords
28 Feb
Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru): To ask her Majesty's Government whether they will issue a warning to all schools about the potenetial for asbestos fibre release from warm air cabinet heaters in schools.

Lord Nash (Conservative): I am aware of the situation at Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly, Wales where there were concerns about asbestos exposure and whether warm air cabinet heaters in the school were spreading fibres... The national publicity of this case will have helped to highlight the need for all schools to make sure they are treating the management of asbestos very seriously. The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the situation at Cwmcarn is still under way and it is appropriate to wait until they have concluded their investigation and reported before deciding what action, if any, DfE should take...

1 March
Thurrock Council has been fined after admitting to failures in how it managed asbestos across its schools.... After the hearing HSE inspector Samantha Thomson, said: "This was a clear example of a local Authority failing to manage asbestos across its schools for a number of years.
Industry Today
28 Feb
Why is there still a lack of Asbestos Management Competence in Schools?..... However the focus should really be the apparent specific exclusion of asbestos from the DfE audit on school condition and the concerns that there is no identification of dutyholder responsibilities with concerns that asbestos information will be lost. ...... Shared dutyholder responsibilities very often get blurred and the result of this can be neither party completely executing their duties, or worse, being in conflict over who has the duties. As more schools become academies or free schools and move away from the Local Authority their governors rapidly become responsible for the management of asbestos in the school and will find that they have no competence in the school to assume the dutyholder responsibilities.
Cambrian News
28 Feb
ABSESTOS has been found in nearly 50 schools and nurseries in Meirionnydd and Dwyfor, a new report has revealed.
Ed Exec
27 Feb
The union (GMB) has fed in evidence as part of the joint union asbestos committee (JUAC) submission as it represents an increasing number of school support staff who may be negligently exposed to the deadly asbestos fibres. Over 75% of state schools contain asbestos – much of it in a dangerous condition. Concerns have been raised about asbestos being excluded from the Department for Education’s audit on the condition of schools.....
27 Feb
GMB, the union for school support staff, has welcomed the call for evidence by the House of Commons Education Select Committee on the issues around Asbestos in Schools.John McClean, GMB National Health & Safety Officer, said “GMB welcomes the call for evidence on asbestos in schools. Last year’s report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health & Safety made it clear that a cohesive and clear strategy to deal with this serious matter needed to take place. Hopefully the Education Select Committee which holds it hearing on Wednesday 13th March will reach similar conclusions that enable the DfE to begin dealing comprehensively with this problem”.
Phillip Poynter Construction Safety
6 March
The Education Select Committee is holding a one-off enquiry about asbestos in schools on 13 March 2013. Those appearing before the committee include the Rt Hon David Laws MP, Minister for Schools and an HSE representative. The enquiry will consider the available evidence about the risks that asbestos containing materials create in schools. It will seek to establish whether the existing management systems and regulatory approach is sufficient. The impact that changes in both school management and school building programmes have had on asbestos management will also be examined. ........ The Select Committee enquiry follows publication of Asbestos in schools. The need for action by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety in 2012.... The report includes recommendations that the Government should set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools, and that pro-active inspections to determine the standards of asbestos management should be reinstated.
Daily Post
4 March
... Our figures revealed that hundreds of schools in the region were found to have asbestos - easiliy the most common type of council bui,lding to contain the material. It comes after North Wales AM Aled Roberts this month publicly backed a national campaign to give parents the right to know about asbestos in schools. The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is calling on the Welsh Government and councils to establish a schools asbestos database....
DfE The DfE arguing successfully against asbestos surveys being made compulsory in schools. Dates back to 21 August 1997
Cwmcarn School
16 Feb
There are conflicting reports about the level of asbestos fibre release and risk at Cwmcarn School. HSE and the school authorities have used the HSL report as a basis for claiming that the school is uncontaminated and that the risks are very low. That is despite evidence of widespread asbestos contamination, damaged AIB and HSL’s confirmation that the heaters are emitting amosite fibres. In addition HSL undertook their sampling in an unoccupied school and therefore their results are likely to have been lower than when the building was occupied by up to 1,000 staff and pupils.

The Headteacher has issued a statement which is on the school's web site. The South Wales Argus covers it also:     The evidence is that the occupants of the school have been exposed to asbestos, the debate is over the extent of exposure and the resultant risks. The Council have looked at all the evidence and adopted the Precautionary Approach. Where children are involved that has to be the correct policy.

EU Committee on Employment and Social Affairs EU Report on Asbestos The EU Committee on Employment and Social Affairs has voted to support MEP Stephen Hughes’ Report on Asbestos.   The Committee will now put it to the EU Parliament as a proposal for an EU Resolution.
Wilson Nesbitt - solicitors Teacher claiming for unfair dismissal following a complaint against asbestos management “Teacher Kike Gbinigie is bringing a claim for unfair dismissal and racial discrimination against Birmingham City Council, as she claims she was sacked from her job after complaining about asbestos management at the school.”... There have been a number of cases where school teachers and support staff have complained about unsafe asbestos management and their professional lives have subsequently been made uncomfortable and in some cases impossible.

Following the termination of HSE proactive inspections to assess the standards of asbestos management in LA schools, AiS asked HSE how they would determine if a school had an unsafe system of management. HSE responded that they would rely on school staff reporting such failures. AiS argued that such a system would not work, and this latest case adds to the evidence that it does not.

Caerphilly County Borough Council
15 Feb
Caerphilly Council statement on Cwmcarn High School. ...The building is a pre-1960s construction and therefore contains large amounts of asbestos material. Also, the current general condition of the school is very poor (the school has a 'D Rating' according to the Welsh Government's School Condition Survey in 2010 and is in the worst condition of all schools in the county borough), so alongside the ongoing asbestos problems, there is also a considerable repair and maintenance backlog which needs to be addressed at the site.

With regard to the surveys that have been undertaken to date, it is important to note that there is inconsistency in the methodology used by the asbestos specialists involved in commissioning these reports. This has resulted in differing opinions about the levels of risk at the school. Despite this, the fact remains that there are large quantities of asbestos throughout the school building, including significant amounts of asbestos debris in the ceiling and roof voids as well as the heater cabinets. ... The Council has employed an independent expert who will now give an impartial view of all the reports.....

BBC Wales
8 Feb
Asbestos: More concerns over Cwmcarn High School future The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out tests which indicated the risk to pupils and teachers was low. But firm advising the council says it still has safety concerns.
Santia Consulting Ltd issued a statement on Friday saying the source of the asbestos contamination in the school "still remains in place consisting of substantially damaged asbestos insulating boards (AIBs) in the ceiling voids, damaged AIB in the room heaters and repeated damage of AIB window panels within classrooms". It has asked for more information about the type of report carried out on behalf of the HSE and whether it has gone far enough.
Enfield Advertiser
31 Jan
Broomfield school remains shut after asbestos discovered on site. The secondary school, in Wilmer Way, Palmers Green, has been closed to most students since January 21 when pupils were sent home after one of the heating pipes burst during last week’s freezing temperatures. Repair work on the damaged pipe took place over the weekend, but instead of fixing the problem, suspected asbestos was discovered.
J. Spencer (Solicitor)
30 Jan 2013
Asbestos in Schools: A Missed Opportunity As part of the government's response to the Review of Education Capital in July 2011, the Department for Education (DfE) agreed that urgent work should be undertaken to collect up-to-date information on the building condition of the education estate... Their findings will be used to calculate the 2014-15 capital funding allocations. The government then plans to continue with a rolling 20% sample of the education estate each year, so as to enable "a credible full picture of the estate’s condition every five years."... The word "credible" beggars belief. How can the PDSP be regarded as credible if it fails to include an assessment of asbestos in schools?... The PDSP will not assess the danger of asbestos in schools.

Comment:. For more factual detail see "Exclusion of asbestos from the audit of school buildings"

18 Dec
Council fined for asbestos exposure at school  “Staffordshire County Council and a refurbishment firm have landed penalties totalling £27,000 for exposing a nursery class, school staff and two joiners to asbestos fibres... Two joiners were cutting through a large built-in cupboard in the nursery class when they noticed unidentified material nailed to the back of it, Stafford Crown Court was told. They showed this to their site manager, who allowed them to carry on dismantling the cupboard and detach the material. However, the material was asbestos insulating board, which should only be moved by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. The court heard the joiners used an ordinary vacuum cleaner to clear up dust and debris, which would also have spread asbestos fibres in the air. On the day the work was done, 17 children aged between three and four, were in the classroom for half-day sessions, together with a teacher and teaching assistant. A school cleaner was also exposed to the potentially dangerous substance. An HSE investigation into the 13 February 2009 incident found the council had failed to do a pre-refurbishment asbestos survey before work started.”
Plaid Cymru
29 Dec
Party of Wales Shadow Education Minister Simon Thomas: “It is wholly impractical to remove all asbestos from schools in Wales or anywhere else, as it would literally cost a fortune as the figures revealed to Plaid Cymru show. In the interest of safety we need to assess the risk and if it is discovered, seal, label, register and monitor (as is required under the law) to ensure there is no risk. It is only removed when it is impractical to seal it. Actually removing it when it's in a sealed and stable condition, would in reality make it far more dangerous.”

Comment: The critical flaw in the present position is that Welsh schools do not test the condition of their hidden and encapsulated asbestos and do not test whether school activity is disturbing it and releasing fibres.

In England at least one County has a long standing policy of removing asbestos from their schools over time as finances and repair and maintenance programmes permit. Other major government organisations have also removed asbestos safely from their buildings.

Daily Post
29 Dec

Denbighshire council alone estimated it would cost between £6m and £8m to remove asbestos from its schools while Carmarthenshire forecast that asbestos removal and reinstatement would cost £5.587m. Meanwhile, local authorities revealed they have been subject to damages claims for asbestos dust cases running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is estimated around 75% of schools in Wales have asbestos present in construction materials but this is deemed safe as long as it remains undisturbed.

Comment: There is a critical flaw in the statement "It is estimated around 75% of schools in Wales have asbestos present in construction materials but this is deemed safe as long as it remains undisturbed." The flaw is that Welsh schools do not test the condition of their hidden and encapsulated asbestos and do not test whether school activity is disturbing it and releasing fibres.

Wales on Line
29 Dec
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “As the Minister advised in his statement to Plenary in November, it is not practicable to remove asbestos from every school in Wales on a blanket basis. Asbestos is safe if undisturbed and schools should work closely with their respective local authorities to ensure that appropriate health and safety plans are in place for staff, pupils and visitors. “The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has always maintained that the best approach for asbestos in sound condition and not likely to be damaged is to leave it well alone, protect it and manage it to prevent damage and exposure to asbestos.

Comment: Unfortunately this Welsh Government approach has the critical flaw that Welsh schools do not test the condition of their hidden and encapsulated asbestos and do not test whether school activity is disturbing it and releasing fibres.

28 Dec
Statistics obtained by a Freedom of Information request to Suffolk County Council show that 350 schools in the county could contain the material. The data revealed the schools affected were opened before the year 2000. However the county council said asbestos is not dangerous unless it is disturbed.

Comment: Unfortunately this approach is flawed as schools do not test the condition of their hidden and encapsulated asbestos and do not test whether school activity is disturbing it and releasing fibres.

Milford and West Wales Mercury
23 Dec
Only six of Pembrokeshire’s 70 schools do not contain some sort of asbestos, while a number of local libraries and leisure centres also contain some form of the material, which is now illegal to use. The reply to the request also shows that crocodolite is the most common form of asbestos found, with amosite and chrysotile found less frequently. Councillor George .. added the Health and Safety Executive recommended that asbestos products should be left in place, providing they were in good condition, and should be subsequently managed... .Cllr George said the council had robust systems in place for the management and regulation of asbestos containing material in all Pembrokeshire schools

Comment: This approach is flawed as schools do not test the condition of their hidden and encapsulated asbestos and do not test whether school activity is disturbing it and releasing fibres.

Western Telegraph
19 Dec
Sixty four of Pembrokeshire's 70 schools contain some asbestos - but Pembrokeshire County Council will not curently say which schools they are.The figure was revealed following a question from county councillor David Bryan, prompted by the recent closure of Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly, due to asbestos.
Shadow Minister for Education Welsh Assembly
5 Dec
At Education Questions today I will expect the Minister to clarify the full results of the audit announced on 16th October 2012 and to address any concerns which have surfaced. I fully support the Right to Know campaign, and call on the government to introduce a national register to ensure transparency and honesty on the issue of asbestos in schools....
Harrow Times
5 Dec
Vaughan School governor expresses concerns about asbestos in school building. The chair of governors at a West Harrow school has said that it is unsafe and has “issues with asbestos”... Ms Lee told councillors that the governors are also concerned about asbestos in the building... She wrote: “The structure of the building is not fit for purpose... “The Junior School was built over forty years ago as a temporary measure and was not expected to last for more than 20 years... “There are also issues with asbestos and as time goes by this is going to become a serious health risk.”

Further Information: Two years ago HSE carried out enforcement action on the London Borough of Harrow for failing to train people, inform them and to manage the asbestos in Vaughan Primary School. HSE Notice 302693121  served against London Borough of Harrow on 30/06/2010 and HSE Notice 302693082 served against London Borough of Harrow on 30/06/2010

New Law Solicitors
1 Jan 2012
NewLaw is proud to support the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign. The campaign, aimed at Welsh Government and Local Authorities, is calling for a national online schools asbestos register database to be established.. We believe that parents should be able to find out whether their child's school contains asbestos, and if so, whether adequate management plans are in place... Sign the campaign petition at this link
Asbestos Management Services
30 Nov 2012
Make schools high priority on asbestos agenda... we need to educate schools in asbestos management. While some have effective systems in place, many do not. We need to raise awareness, increase standards of training and ensure effective asbestos management plans are firmly in place
Wales on Line
29 Nov
MILLIONS of pounds could be reclaimed by the NHS in Wales from companies liable for exposing workers to asbestos, if proposed new legislation is adopted. Mick Antoniw, AM for Pontypridd, said that employers – or their insurers – could be forced to pay back up to £3m for treatment costs for employees who develop conditions such as mesothelioma and asbestosis if his Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill becomes law. He said: “If you have an employer or insurer who has accepted that they are liable and they are to blame, then why is it they will pick up costs for the private sector, but not the public sector?"
27 Nov
The situation at Cwmcarn High School has highlighted the presence of asbestos in school buildings in Wales and is a serious problem that calls for decisive action from the Welsh Government. .... Instead, the Welsh Government has decided against establishing a phased programme for the removal of asbestos from school buildings and against setting a safety level on asbestos for the learning and working environment.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
27 Nov
More Clarity Needed Over Welsh School Asbestos Concerns ... Fresh concerns raised by the Welsh education minister about the management of asbestos in the country’s schools need to be clarified immediately and must also be the catalyst for a full investigation into standards at all schools across the UK, according to asbestos-related illness experts. ..In a written statement to the Welsh Assembly, Leighton Andrews has revealed he does not feel sufficiently assured that local authorities in the country are discharging their statutory duties to manage asbestos.
Waltham Forest Guardian
22 Nov
Calls for public inquiry over further school asbestos revelations in Walthamstow. ...Rules designed to ensure councils get value for taxpayers' money were broken twice during the hiring of contractors to deal with asbestos at a school, it has emerged. ...The council has already come under criticism from parents after the toxic fibre was discovered at the former Warwick School for Boys site in Brooke Road, Walthamstow, just weeks before hundreds of children from St Mary's Primary were due to be relocated there in September.
BBC Radio 4
15 Nov
Cenric Clement-Evans, campaigning solicitor from leading law firm New Law interviewed on Radio 4's You and Yours programme about the 'Right To Know: Asbestos In Schools Wales' campaign.
Waltham Forest Guardian
13 Nov
MORE than 170 parents and family members have signed a petition saying they have lost confidence in the council over its handling of an asbestos discovery at a school.... It came after three classes and 18 staff from St Mary's had already relocated to the site early in September 2011,

The petition by parents alleges that the council ignored independent advice in April 2011 to put an asbestos management plan in place for the site. It claims the council failed to do so prior to the discovery of the toxic fibre exactly a year later in April 2012. Campaigners also claim the fiasco has cost the council at least £70,000 - just for transporting children from The Drive site to Edinburgh Primary. The council says it does not know when children will be able to move into the Brooke Road site.

Youblawg (lawyers site)
7 Nov


5 Nov

It is great news that a campaign by teachers and unions has been successful in highlighting the need for pupils, teachers and school workers to be better protected from the potentially deadly asbestos found in a number of schools. It was reported this week that trade unionists were celebrating after a campaign by teachers pressed the government into agreeing to publish a new guide for school heads. I sincerely hope the campaign by teachers has highlighted to the government the ongoing risks associated with asbestos and hope their role in minimising the risks posed by asbestos to pupils, teachers and society as a whole is now being taken seriously.

GMB Welcome new asbestos guidance to schools and colleges issued by the UK government and calls for training to reduce risks. The online guidance is a step in the right direction in the campaign to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos teachers, support staff and children says GMB. The asbestos guidance for schools is now live and available at: -http://www.education.gov.uk/b00215518/asbestosmanagementschools

Sec Ed
8 Nov
Call for official asbestos database as Wales begins review of all school buildings.. Teaching unions and cancer charities are urging the Welsh government to create a database recording asbestos in school buildings. The new campaign comes as councils across the country begin work to review their management of asbestos.

Now, assembly members, legal experts and campaigners have come together to support the new Parents’ Right to Know campaign, which has been launched by Asbestos in Schools Wales. It has political support and is backed by teaching unions and the Tenovus cancer charity. The campaign is calling for an asbestos database which parents would be able to access online, to check whether asbestos is present in any school and whether a management plan is in place.

This is Leicestershire
3 Nov

ITV - 2 Nov

Asbestos found at Katherine Junior School, in Leicester, after roof fire

. “A massive asbestos decontamination project will have to take place at Catherine Junior School, in Belgrave, Leicester, following a fire this week.School bags, coats, PE kits and other items left behind during the evacuation by the 380 children will have to be destroyed because of the asbestos contamination."Workmen were repairing the roof of the gymnasium using a heat gun to melt bitumen to seal the roof. "A stray spark ignited material in the roof space and the roof subsequently caught fire."The gymnasium has been completely destroyed by the fire and the surrounding classrooms have also sustained fire and smoke damage.”

Comment: The asbestos contamination was mainly caused by the fire and the efforts of the fire brigade to extinguish it. However the work on the roof in its own right could also have released asbestos fibres. Any maintenance work that could disturb asbestos should not be carried out when a school is occupied. But work did take place, even though the school is known to contain significant amounts of asbestos. Details of a current court case and similar incidents are at this link

The school Is a class Mark 4b constructed in 1970. The design of this, and other system built schools, has been criticised by fire authorities as unsafe following previous incidents in similar buildings. The history, dangers and earlier major incidents are at this link.

Union News
The NASUWT and Thompson's solicitors have set up a register to assist those worried about exposure to asbestos in Welsh schools. The move follows the closure of Cwmcarn High School after the discovery of asbestos, and the subsequent announcement by Education Minister Leighton Andrews that asbestos levels in all Welsh schools should be checked...The new asbestos register will help people in the event they ever develop an asbestos-related disease. It will also be used to keep those who register up-to-date on changes to the law on potential compensation claims.

A questionnaire is being issued to teachers. Those worried about exposure are being encouraged to contact the NASUWT

Free Press
1 Nov
There are 34 schools in Torfaen which contain asbestos, figures from the council show.... Nearly 200 of Gwent's 265 schools contain asbestos, figures released by the five local authorities show. That includes 53 in Newport, at least 30 in the Caerphilly county borough, 28 in Blaenau Gwent and 31 in Monmouthshire.... Simon Ellis, partner at Hugh James solicitors in Cardiff welcomed proposals for a national asbestos register and said people should always be made aware of where asbestos is present. But more importantly he said anywhere containing asbestos should be regularly assessed and monitored. He said: "I'm increasingly concerned at the growing incidence of this type of situation, especially in public buildings such as schools. I would call on local authorities to be more vigilant in identifying asbestos in schools and taking the appropriate steps to protect the health of the pupils and staff."
Wales Online
29 Oct
A campaign has been launched for a register of school asbestos. Under the proposals – which have already been backed by Monmouthshire council – parents would be able to access the database online, check whether asbestos is present in any school and whether a management plan is in place where it is present. The group estimates that more than 300,000 children in Wales are still exposed to asbestos.
Sec Ed
24 Oct
Calls for a UK-wide audit of asbestos in schools have increased after councils in Wales were ordered to compile information on the presence of the deadly material.... More than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos and a report earlier this year from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health found that much asbestos is badly maintained, meaning that children and staff are at risk of exposure. Read the full story here.

The renewed calls for a national asbestos audit comes as the Department for Education publishes its long-awaited e-guidance on managing the material. The guidance tackles issues such as where asbestos can commonly be found, how it can be disturbed, how to manage it, asbestos training, and legal advice. It also offers a HSE checklist.

Safety and Health Practitioner
( Official Magazine of IOSH)
17 Oct
Welsh local authorities told to report on asbestos in schools The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, has demanded the Welsh Government conduct a national audit of asbestos in schools. Many school buildings in Wales were built between the 1940s and 1980s, when asbestos was used extensively... The HSE’s current advice states that if asbestos is not disturbed or damaged, then it is safer to leave it in situ, with robust processes in place to contain and monitor it, but Williams pointed out that even acts such as sticking a drawing pin into a wall could potentially disturb dangerous fibres

Comment: The HSE advice has the flaw that schools do not test the condition of their hidden and encapsulated asbestos and do not test whether school activity is disturbing it and releasing fibres.

Workplace Law
22 Oct
Asbestos expert and lawyer specialising in employment law, health and safety and environmental management: “We believe that about 75% of Welsh schools may contain asbestos. The problem is that whilst individual schools should have their own asbestos register, it is not clear how many schools are affected and the extent of the presence of asbestos. I believe we need a central register in Wales to assess precisely how widespread the risk is.... “We need to assess the extent of the risk before we can begin to manage the asbestos. One thing is for certain; we need to manage the legacy of asbestos in Wales for the sake of our teachers and schoolchildren.”
Derbyshire Times
21 Oct
Shocking statistics show 75 per cent of Derbyshire schools contain asbestos - and campaigners say it could be putting children’s health at risk. Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team is backing a call to remove the most dangerous materials from schools - as data shows the county has the second highest number of buildings containing the deadly fibres..... Joanne Gordon of Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team, said a review should be carried out to assess the state of the county’s schools.

...... “It’s a terrible, terrible disease and it’s so avoidable. The government was warned about the dangers in the 1960s and warned about the risks to children in schools in 1966 but they carried on building thousands of schools using large amounts of asbestos. Schools are not like an office where you can manage asbestos. Fibres can be released by slamming doors, hitting a wall or putting drawing pins in a wall,” ....

BBC News Wales
15 Oct

Caerphilly Observer
15 Oct

Parents of more than 900 pupils at a school closed because of asbestos are waiting to hear when their children can return to lessons. Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county was shut late on Friday after a structural report identified asbestos. Education officials, teaching staff and engineers discussed the situation on Monday. Caerphilly council said public health officials were due to offer their views in the next 24 hours. "[The] council is working with the public health service to analyse the findings of the structural report received by the authority on Friday afternoon," Caerphilly council said in a statement. The local authority said the decision to shut the premises was taken for the safety of staff and pupils.

Update at 2028 hours: "They found.. high levels of asbestos right throughout the building," Mr Phillips said. 'Airborne particles' .... He said the asbestos was found to be in airborne particles, with two-thirds of the school "inoperable".

Caerphilly Observer: “As a parent of two children at Cwmcarn High School, I am disgusted at the way this has been handled. A part of the school has been closed off for weeks because of dust in the area,....

This is South Wales
13 Oct


A Caerphilly comprehensive school has been forced to close after a report found the building contains asbestos. Further investigations are to be carried at Cwmcarn High School in the Ebbw Valley. Caerphilly council does not yet have a plan for alternative premises for the school's 900 pupils......... The local authority said the decision to shut the premises was taken for the safety of staff and pupils.
Derry Journal
12 Oct
Children across the North West - some aged as young as three - are attending classes in school buildings that contain cancer-causing asbestos. Across Derry, Limavady and Strabane, more than 80 school buildings - including nursery, primary and secondary schools - have been found to contain asbestos fibre. ... The shocking extent of the presence of asbestos in schools right across the north was revealed in response to a question asked in the Stormont Assembly by SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone. In Derry asbestos is currently present in 50 school buildings, including Carnhill Nursery, Rosemount Primary, Ebrington Primary, the Model, Immaculate Conception College and St Peter’s High School. In Strabane asbestos is found in 14 schools while in Limavady the fibre is found in 20 school buildings.... .Last month it was revealed that across the north almost 900 schools were found to contain asbestos.

The full list of north west schools is at the link

Guardian (Waltham)
10 Oct
CONCERNS have been raised about the council's handling of asbestos in public buildings following revelations over the discovery of the toxic fibre in a school....St Mary's Church of England Primary in The Drive, Walthamstow, was due to move to the former Warwick School site in Brooke Road in September ... The news comes just two years after the HSE criticised the council for not properly monitoring or managing asbestos in several other Walthamstow schools. One source described the aborted relocation as a “shambles” and questioned why the council had not known about the asbestos sooner.
10 Oct
Learning the lessons of asbestos as death toll continues to rise. .. awareness raising about the very real dangers of asbestos in schools with the launch of a new information pamphlet, 'Asbestos in Schools: What teachers, support staff, governors and heads need to know about the hidden killer within our schools'.

All schools built before 2000 are also highly likely to contain asbestos containing materials (ACM); it was used extensively in construction materials, insulation and fire prevention; over 75% of schools contain asbestos. As these building age and fall into disrepair the risk of asbestos exposure increases dramatically. The number of teachers who have dies from mesothelioma has increased by over 300% in the last twenty years. This is only the tip of the iceberg. ....Children exposed to asbestos are five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than adult teachers in the same environment. A child of five is five times more likely to develop mesothelioma by the age of 80 than a teacher aged 30.

Comment: The pamphlet will be linked to as soon as the TUC publish it on the web

8 Oct
Two subcontractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Reading University. Reading Magistrates court heard today (8 October) that on 2 September 2009 the two men drilled through a sprayed asbestos ceiling coating. They had not been made aware that asbestos was in the room and thought all asbestos material had been removed by specialist contractors prior to their work starting. Gardner Mechanical Services had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in order to prevent their exposure to asbestos, but this simply did not happen.“As a result of poor planning on the part of GMS, two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis of the lungs.” The firm was fined a total of £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs.
NASUWT Asbestos campaigners have reiterated their call for greater action to tackle the problem of asbestos in UK schools after the Australian Government announced it is to press ahead with the removal of asbestos in all its schools.The Australian Government is to set up a new office of asbestos safety with the aim of removing asbestos from the ‘built environment’. It has promised to prioritise the removal of asbestos from schools.
Express and Star
27 Sept
Sedgley school asbestos discovery holds up lessons. Reception pupils will not be able to start lessons at a Sedgley school for another month after asbestos was discovered. The ceilings were being refurbished at Cotwall End Primary when the material was found

Express and Star
21 Sept and 3 Apr 2012

Staffordshire County Council is facing a hefty fine after admitting liability when dangerous asbestos fibres were released into a primary school. Glenthorne Primary School in Cheslyn Hay was closed for four months as a result in 2009, costing taxpayers £246,000. Lawyers for the local authority yesterday entered a guilty plea to a health and safety charge brought over the asbestos alert. It is believed asbestos board, used as thermal insulation in construction between the 1950s and 1970s, was disturbed during months of ongoing building works at the school. Parents were assured at the time that there was only limited risk to the children’s health. 3 April 2012 Express and Star: “Glenthorne Primary School, Cheslyn Hay, has been closed since February after it emerged workers disturbed asbestos insulation board fibres while removing a book cupboard in the nursery where children were present. It happened the day before half-term but parents were not told until a week later.”
Ulster Gazette
13 Sept
A CLADY school has been identified as one of the schools within the Southern Education and Library Board which contains the potentially deadly form of asbestos. St Michael's Primary School at Cladymore Road, was one of nine buildings listed by the Southern Education and Library Board, as containing crocidolite - the most dangerous form of asbestos.
Express and Star
8 Sept
Tradesmen working at Ryders Hayes School, in Pelsall, disturbed the potentially-harmful asbestos during the school holidays. Parts of the Gilpin Crescent school have been quarantined following surveys by asbestos specialists, who were called in immediately.
Belfast Telegraph
7 Sept
Asbestos: The deadly material that lurks in 75% of Northern Ireland schools...... The close on 900 schools affected include dozens of nurseries and primaries. In some cases the buildings contain crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos, which is the most lethal type of the material. The Department of Education said that, provided the fibres were properly managed and not damaged or disturbed, there was no “significant risk” to health. ..... Mr Lees warned of the risks.. ".... but many are beyond their design life. If they have not been well maintained then, as the buildings deteriorate, so does the asbestos. In 1987 it was found that just slamming a door or kicking a wall in a school can release dangerous asbestos fibres into the rooms....... The remedy for thousands of steel framed schools is not to remove the damaged asbestos but to seal it in place with bathroom sealant squirted along every crack and gap in the columns and walls. Parents are then assured that their children’s school are managing their asbestos. It can, however, only be considered a temporary measure.... In March, Northern Ireland’s Education Minister John O’Dowd stated that 'currently there are no plans to provide specific asbestos training for school staff'. The government’s policy of asbestos management will only work in schools if it is properly resourced, the staff trained, the buildings well maintained and the pupils’ behaviour exemplary. In addition the asbestos really has to be in good condition and can not be in a place where it stands any chance of being disturbed. If that is not the case then a policy of phased removal is the only viable long-term option."

Australia. ABC Australia news
4 Sept
Cancers caused by asbestos exposure as children A study has been recently published of children exposed to crocidolite near the Wittenoom crocidolite mine in Australia. ABC states: “A new study has found adults who were exposed to asbestos as children in the W-A town of Wittenoom are dying of aggressive cancers at excessively high rates”
BBC News / HSE Fraudulent Asbestos clearance certificates in a school Two men colluded with each other to commit fraud by falsifying a record stating that a school in Abingdon had been properly cleaned of asbestos
BBC Radio Gloucester
20 Aug
The series of local radio reports about asbestos in schools has continued today. Radio Gloucester has highlighted the issue in a well researched report and a series of interviews. There is an excellent interview with a headteacher in a school that was opened in 1963. He has had to spend £80,000 on asbestos related work in the last year including removing asbestos before old, deteriorating electrical wiring can be replaced. The money has come from the school budget which could otherwise been spent on teaching staff.

The Radio Gloucester Today programme for 20th August starts at 6am. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p00wrkt2 . The reports can be heard for the next week and are at:
0000 secs to 1m 10 secs; 1hr 7mins to 1hr 15mins 40 secs; 2hrs 6mins 50 secs to 2hrs 15mins 40secs

Also the Chris Baxter show at about 1hr 12 mins from the start. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00wrkt4

Cabinet Office, HSE
17 Aug
Two men colluded with each other to commit fraud by falsifying a record stating that a school in Abingdon had been properly cleaned of asbestos. The “unusual fraud” was confirmed by detective work by one of the men’s employers using GPS tracking technology on the employee’s company van. The deception by the two men was uncovered after an engineer went to Our Lady’s Abingdon school to start plumbing work but could see that asbestos material had been left, putting him and others at risk of exposure to dangerous fibres. He reported it to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated and brought a prosecution against both men.
BBC Derbyshire
7 August
Joanne Gordon of the Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team is interviewed for Radio Derbyshire this morning about asbestos being in the vast majority of Derbyshire and East Staffordshire schools. The interview is 17 minutes 13 seconds into the 7 August Phil Trows Breakfast Show programme
BBC Radio Derby An extensive interview with Michael Lees on Radio Derby about asbestos in schools nationally and in Derbyshire. The interview was with Colin Bloomfield on 8th Aug at about 1740. The interview is 1hour 39 minutes 54 seconds from the start of the video at the link.
BBC Radio Devon
9 Aug
Good morning Devon led on their report on asbestos in schools on Thursday 9th August from 0630 to 0900. Professor David Philips, Amanda Brown, Debbie Brewer and Michael Lees were interviewed. From the start the different reports were at 2min - 6mins; 34 mins - 40mins; 1 hr 7 mins - 1hr 11 mins;  1hr 34mins - 1hr 40 mins;  2hrs 1 min - 2hrs 2 mins (repeat) 2hrs; 7 mins - 2hrs 12 mins.

Comment In a statement given to the BBC HSE stated that it is safer to manage asbestos than remove it. This has been discussed recently at the DfE Asbestos Steering Group, the committee the government established to improve the asbestos management in schools. The local authority representative, the asbestos consultants association, experts on risk, the teaching and support staff unions and the AiS strongly disagree, and gave examples where asbestos removal has been done safely. The government’s policy is applied to schools but not necessarily to government buildings where asbestos has been removed from Department for Education offices, the Department for the Environment HQ and significant quantities have been removed from the Palace of Westminster. The article in the teachers’ journal SecEd sums up the actual reason behind the policy in an editorial:

HSE also stated that the incidence of mesothelioma amongst teachers is average. What they failed to add is that in an occupation where one should expect minimal or no asbestos exposure their incidence should be far below average. That is because the statistics include the occupations that are known to be high risk, and therefore an average mesothelioma death rate indicates a significant asbestos exposure. Teachers should be compared with similar professions and if that is done their death rate is significantly higher. See page 37 of CC/2011/17 and Relative Vunerability of Children to Asbestos: Asbestos in Schools.

BBC Radio Leicester
7 Aug
Liz Darlison of Mesothelioma UK also gave an excellent interview for Radio Leicester. It covers the risk from asbestos in schools and the dangers of contracting mesothelioma. The interview is 1hour 16 minutes 20 seconds into the Jonathan Lampton show of 8 August
Daily Post
7 Aug
A parent raised the alarm after four large bags were left next to a holiday club hut at St Asaph VP Primary School. Each was marked “Warning Contains Asbestos – breathing asbestos dust is dangerous to health”. Yesterday Denbighshire council admitted the bags had been left after several old sinks were removed from the school and dangerous asbestos was found in them.
This is Wiltshire
2 Aug
Asbestos is widespread in the town, say official reports... While most of the areas affected were concealed behind walls or in cavities, window frames and floor panels were also found to contain the material .....Schools were also found to contain the substance. Covingham Park Primary School was found in 2009 to contain it in more than 20 locations, including a cleaning cupboard, medical room and staff room. At Drove Primary School in Old Town it was present in 21 different places according to a report in 2010, including a window sill. At Mountford Manor Primary School in Walcot cement panels and insulation boards containing the substance were found in the main hall in 2011. A window at Grange Junior School in Grange Drive was found the year before to contain chrysotile, the most common type of asbestos. At all of the schools inspectors either recommended the material be removed by specialist contractors or declared them safe unless affected by building work.
Independent Asbestos Training Providers Newsletter
Aug 2012
This focuses on asbestos in schools from 4 different perspectives:
  • Asbestos in Schools: Editorial by Michael Lees AiS
  • Asbestos in Schools: The Building Fabric: Editorial by Wayne Williams. DMW
  • Asbestos Exposure in Schools. Insured or not? Editorial by David Bearman. Asbestos Insured
  • GMB: Hidden Killer in your School: Source GMB
Stockport - Sheila Oliver web site
1 Aug 2012
A resident's web site about building a new school in Reddish on land containing asbestos and other contaminants. It includes a video showing work in respirators that appears dangerously incompetent..
Children and Young People Services North Yorkshire

19 Jul 2012

Important Health and Safety Information : Serious Asbestos Incident and Safety Alert. Audience: Headteachers, Site Managers Category: For information and guidance. Phase: Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Post 16, Special, Other.

.. A report from the Health & Safety Executive regarding their prosecution of an independent school in Dorset over management of asbestos during a building project....The asbestos case highlights the need to ensure that if you are planning school led building work then the necessary asbestos surveys and checks must be in place before commencement of the project..... It is worth noting that an individual involved with the project was found guilty of not carrying out his duties under the Construction Design Management Regulations 2007.

Bloomfield Collegiate web site - asbestos update.

HSE and other reports of the asbestos exposure are on this page on 28 June.

“Asbestos containing materials were identified in a number of locations with some damage in foyer cupboards....  Two rooms in the building were currently being rented out to a private day care nursery.... The HSENI and the PHA have been working closely with the school to interpret the differing test results....It has been established that electrical and computer cable installation in 2001 caused the damage to the cupboards in question, and when the HSENI carried out their tests, they opened these cupboards and removed materials. It is believed that the tests detected the concerning amounts of airborne asbestos because of the disturbance caused by opening and collecting material from within these larger cupboards...The HSENI carried out air tests in two of the classrooms.  The levels revealed in these tests carried out by HSENI were deemed a risk...The school has made every effort to contact past Prep pupils from 2001 and is also writing to advise past Senior School pupils from this time, who may have carried out some school activities in the Prep building....Two subsequent tests carried out independently by the school did not show unacceptable levels of air fibres.” 

Comment: The school have published the details of the subsequent tests on the schools web-site, but not the results of the elevated HSENI tests. (2) The subsequent tests were carried out in the classrooms once some of the cupboards had been sealed with duct tape (3), and therefore they were carried out after the source of the asbestos fibres had been isolated and the levels would predictably be lower.

The school has also made an unjustifiable statement about the subsequent tests as they claim that they “did not show unacceptable levels of air fibres.” “Reassurance” tests are not sufficiently accurate to determine unsafe asbestos fibre levels. They are only used by default and were never designed for this purpose.  Also the level of 0.01f/ml is not a safe level, and it has been set purely because of the limitations of optical microscopes.

All the tests showed that fibres were present and one test showed fibre levels just below 0.01 f/ml.  HSE acknowledge that 0.01f/ml is not an acceptable level, and state:  “The threshold of less than 0.01 f/ml should be taken only as a transient indication of site cleanliness... and is not an acceptable permanent level." (4)  Indeed it is not as a person would inhale 6,000 fibres an hour.

Details of the elevated HSENI tests have been requested.

(1) Bloomfield Collegiate School Asbestos update 29 Jun 12.
(2) Asbestos Factsheet ; Map Of Preparatory Building ;Resource & Environmental Consultants – Dust Disturbance Test Results ;Resource & Environmental Consultants – Background Air Test Results; Resource & Environmental Consultants – Equipment Test Results(Static & Disturbed); CGC Labaratory Ltd – Full Report And Test Results
(3) CCC Laboratory Ltd asbestos monitoring report Bloomfield collegiate 1 Jun 2012
(4) HSC CAWR 2006 Work with materials containing asbestos ACOP para 17 p68

13 July
The unsafe removal of asbestos insulation boards at a large independent school in Dorset led to several people being exposed to asbestos fibres, Dorchester Crown Court heard today (13 July). Asbestos insulation boards were removed in an unsafe way, exposing building contractors and a teenage work experience student to asbestos fibres, and leaving them at risk of developing serious and potentially fatal diseases later in life..... Exposure to asbestos fibres is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK; it is responsible for around 4,000 deaths a year... Sherborne School was found guilty of breaching Regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 14 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The school was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay £13,000 in costs.
BBC News
3 July
Katharine Lady Berkeley's School in Wotton-under-Edge has failed in its bid to secure maintenance funding..... The 1960s buildings need repairs to electrical wiring, wooden window frames and leaking flat roofs. Asbestos also needs to be removed. .... annual funding of about £300,000 has fallen to below £30,000.
BBC News
4 July
The former St Mark's Primary School, in Muiryfauld Drive, Shettleston, is being demolished following the deliberate blaze on 22 May.... . Asbestos fibres were later identified in the surrounding area.. "Breathing in just a small amount of asbestos dust can put your health at serious risk."It's a silent killer - it can be in your system for many years before symptoms show. ... The council has confirmed that work is being carried out. A spokesman said: "We expect the work to clean gutters, which is currently ongoing,
Mesothelioma UK
3 July
Asbestos found in schools ten years before tests close classrooms....A latest news report adds fuel to the government proposals revealed early in 2012 over the ever-present dangers concealed asbestos fibres pose to pupils, teachers and school staff. Once asbestos fibres are inhaled they remain within the lung linings for up to 50 years before asbestosis symptoms become apparent. Affected cells can also develop into the fatal and incurable cancerous mesothelioma tumours
2 July
The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe. .. Over more than one hundred years, a public health disaster has unfolded in Britain which has claimed more lives than any other occupational epidemic. Comment: An article that identifies the landmark female figures in the battle aginst asbestos and includes Gina Lees and Michael's landmark work over school asbestos exposure
The North West BT Union Safety
1 Jul
For many years there has been controversy over the HSE guidance on asbestos, particularly of its threshold level after which action must be taken, not only in the wider working environment, but also when found within schools. For years it was argued that the HSE threshold was dangerously high and was contrary to expert medical and legal opinion.... finally in December 2011 LAC 5/19 was withdrawn and later in February this year, the withdrawal of OC 265/48 took place. The HSE guidance that refers to the Action Level as a threshold for an exposure that would “usually have been insufficient to cause a significant long term risk to health” has been withdrawn... The Asbestos in Schools Group (AISG) ... also argues that workplace control levels should not be applied to children in schools.... the issue of Asbestos in schools is not adequately covered by the HSE guidance and so the AISG have produced argument and evidence in their report which gives the following recommendations
HSC Public Health Agency
28 Jun


BBC News Northern Ireland

Ulster TV
29 Jun


The Sun
15 July

Also see 18 July - this page- comments on the tests

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is working with the HSENI and Bloomfield Collegiate School in Belfast following findings of a survey by the school which indicated that damaged asbestos was present in parts of the former Preparatory Department building..... The building is separate from the main school and includes two rooms which were rented out to a private day care nursery..... The PHA understands that work carried out in the building in 2001 may have caused the damage to the cupboards in question.

BBC - According to a briefing to the Health Minister Edwin Poots and seen by the BBC, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted a survey and found evidence of the presence of asbestos in the fabric of the building and elevated levels in the air. ... Dr Anne Wilson of the PHA said. "It's important to remember that not everybody who is exposed to asbestos becomes unwell. "As much as we can say is there's the possibility that the children and the staff might have been exposed to these higher levels.

Ulster TV - ...It is understood that work carried out at Bloomfield Collegiate School for girls in east Belfast in 2001 may have caused the damage to the insides of cupboards in the former Preparatory Department. That means the damaged asbestos has gone undetected for 11 years.... Parents and staff have already been briefed within the past week on the health risks associated with exposure to asbestos, with a series of information sessions having been held in the school. According to the school, "every effort" has been made to contact past Prep pupils who may have been affected....". "The school is also writing to advise past senior school pupils, who may have carried out some school activities in the Prep building," a statement added.

Christine Bleakley in cancer fear of killer asbestos at school.... . The TV presenter, 33, is among thousands of women being urged to undergo tests to see if a recently discovered leak of the dust at their old school contaminated their lungs. An inspection at Bloomfield Collegiate in Belfast, where Christine was head girl, found “elevated levels” of asbestos in the building. It is believed the toxic fibres were exposed years ago during renovations. Comment: Christine has described the Sun's reports of her reaction to this situation as "total, utter and complete rubbish"

This is Dorset
29 Jun
Sherborne School admits asbestos breach, A representative for the school accepted the charges that between July 2008 and July 2009, asbestos was found in the school house on Abbey Road, and the school failed to ensure a determination of the risk from the incident.

Comment: Sherborne School has pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations. They admit that “Unfortunately the incident did create a risk of exposure to asbestos fibres for a number of individuals.” This was a serious failure in asbestos management that put people at risk. The school says that it “has updated its asbestos register to reflect ongoing surveys....” and has “a written and revised asbestos statement policy to include a modified set of general requirements for building contractors and their subcontractors.”... Now that an incident has occurred and people have been put at risk, the HSE have inspected the school and measures are being taken to implement a proper and safe system of asbestos management. The HSE are no longer allowed to carry out proactive inspections in schools, if they had, then this incident could have been prevented.

Adrossan Herald
29 Jun
THE local authority are to carry out vital work on asbestos within a local school over the summer. North Ayrshire Council put the job out to tender on Monday and say there will be no danger to the public. The e-notice for potential clients issued this week states that works will involve 'encapsulation', or enclosing asbestos located where columns and beams meet in ceiling voids the same job concerning asbestos insulating board used as shuttering in ceiling voids.
Sec Ed
28 Jun
Fear that academies are not insured for asbestos exposure risks Academy and free school governors have been warned that they are legally and financially liable for cases of asbestos exposure in their schools.... In its responses, the government has confirmed that, in general, schools cannot obtain public liability insurance that will cover them for pupil asbestos exposure risks.... .... “This is potentially a very serious loophole for mesothelioma victims. Things can and do go wrong when it comes to asbestos management even with good systems in place. Employers must provide protection for their employees, in case things go wrong, by way of employer’s liability insurance. Surely children learning in our nation’s schools should also be afforded this fundamental protection? This issue must be properly investigated and, if necessary, remedied.”
Shine Asbestos
27 Jun

Asbestos in our schools - calls for decisive action. Comment: a summary of the issues raised on the BBC Look North and Sunday Politics show by a commercial specialist organisation

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
25 Jun
Legal experts representing victims and the families of those whose lives have been affected by asbestos-related disease have repeated calls for the presence of the deadly material in schools across the UK to be urgently tackled. Over the past five years asbestos related disease experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell have been instructed on five claims against County Councils in the North East and Cumbria for teachers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The firm also represents a number of former teachers, school workers and pupils diagnosed with mesothelioma across the country. ... “We have campaigned for a long time for more to be done to address the presence of dangerous asbestos in schools but we are still waiting for a serious commitment to be made to tackle the problem. It is estimated that more than 140 teachers have died from mesothelioma in the past ten years which should be more than enough proof that urgent action is needed.
BBC iplayer Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria
24 June
A good report and discussion on asbestos in the schools in the North East and Cumbria region. The feature is 35 minutes into the BBC Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria 24 June 2012 programme.
BBC Tees
22 Jun
BBC Tees reports 80% of their local schools have asbestos. Interview with Ian Lavery a local MP and an interview with Michael Lees on asbestos risks in schools. Both express serious concerns. To hear it go to the link and play BBC Tees Ali Brownlee, the Breakfast Show for 22 June. The programme runs from 6 to 9 am. The asbestos section is 2hrs 26 minutes in at 0826. It is available for 7 days.
Swindon Advertiser
18 June
DOZENS of men and women are dying every year .... as the deadly legacy of workplace exposure to asbestos continues to takes its toll. The most recent figures show 107 people have died from industrial-related illnesses in Swindon and Wiltshire in the past three years alone. Rachael Wilson, of Bristol and Beyond Asbestos, is helping to deal with an aftermath that goes much further than Swindon and the railway works “The people affected include engineers, carpenters and workers in other trades....... “We have also had teachers who have been exposed at schools where asbestos has been present in cupboards used to store equipment.”
Daily Post
13 Jun
Months to clear asbestos at Coleg Llandrillo children's nursery... This situation will be fully resolved, and all asbestos will be safely removed “over a period of months”. ...Christine Gregory, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers trade union,is aware of 500 known cases of people exposed to asbestos nationwide. ATL, GMB , Unison and other unions want a UK-wide audit of premises to assess the scale of the problem, she said.
Aberdeenshire Council
12 Jun
Councillors asked to approve asbestos removal before improvements at Inverurie Academy... Materials containing asbestos were discovered in the areas where work would take place and will need to be removed before the work starts to minimise risk to contractors. It has also been discovered in the school’s main service duct, which workers will need access to for all three projects.

Inverurie Telegraph: Head of Property, Allan Whyte, said: “All known high-risk asbestos has been removed from our schools.. "

Bolton News
11 June
Asbestos hazard flagged up in rundown schools... Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. ... The father-of-two died in March 2012 this year... He was exposed to asbestos whilst working for Lancashire County Council as a caretaker at two primary schools during the 1980s...... Schools built before 2000 are assumed to have asbestos in them.... Under BSF, seven schools would have been rebuilt or undergone extensive refurbishment with similar plans for other schools in subsequent years.Bolton also lost out on a slice of £2 billion put forward by the Government to rebuild and improve school buildings. ................. UNISON Branch Secretary says: “Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was intended to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school in England. This programme would have got rid of a lot of the asbestos present in schools at the moment, but the Government has scrapped these plans, leaving many at potential risk ."
North Wales Pioneer
7 June
ASBESTOS has been discovered at a college in Rhos on Sea. Coleg Llandrillo bosses have issued a number of instructions to staff working in its Cinmel block on its Rhos on Sea campus after the toxic material was discovered during a routine survey. Tests have since indicated that there is no safety risk in the building, which had been cleared of containing asbestos in a previous report, though a seven-point health and safety guideline has been issued to increase safety. Guidelines include ensuring chairs, desks and filing cabinets do not touch the walls and coats and other articles are not hung on doors in the block’s first floor, with the asbestos expected to be safely removed over the coming months.

However one staff member... remained concerned at the discovery. ..... They say it’s safe, how can it be safe? According to the letter they gave us it isn’t, as we can’t touch the walls or doors anymore, I can’t even hang my coat up .”

BBC News
17 May

Asbestos: Mick Antoniw bill aims to make firms refund Welsh NHS over sick staff. ...AMs approved a motion allowing him to introduce the Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill by 54 votes to nil after a debate in the Senedd. The money raised by the legislation would go into a special fund for ministers to spend on the care of victims. Mr Antoniw highlighted the dangers for people working at power stations, steel works and factories, and the risk of exposure in some public sector buildings, including schools. He said: "The cost of treating asbestos disease places a huge financial strain on an already over-stretched NHS in Wales.

A briefing on the bill is at this link

30 April
David Simmonds, a Conservative councillor who chairs the Local Government Association's children and young people board: ...... "If Whitehall says it is going to step into the role of the local authority and be the Big Brother for schools, they need to be putting in place resources so they can do it effectively. You can't pull the rug from under schools, and then say nothing is available when schools are having to deal with asbestos, leaking roofs and inadequate toilets."

Comment: Grove School appears to be a CLASP school. See the paper on System Build Schools

Press Association
Sufferers of industrial diseases will initially be exempt from the Government's reforms to no-win, no-fee legal claims, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly has said. The minister said there would be a review of how the reforms work before a decision was taken on whether to make the sufferers of mesothelioma pay part of their compensation to their solicitors. He said the Government was also looking at ways of making it easier for sufferers and their solicitors to trace their former employer's insurers to make a successful claim.
Daily Post
23 Apr
The widow of an ex-headteacher who died from asbestos exposure is urging the House of Lords to stand fast after the Government refused to exempt victims from legal costs. Marie Hughes watched husband Phil die from cancer after coming into contact with asbestos at Brymbo Steelworks in his younger years..... Her campaign is being backed by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas ...... ahead of tonight’s debate... He told them: “I believe the Government's proposal is wrong in principle. “To take damages from a dying victim of this industrial disease cannot be justified. Given Wrexham's industrial history, the inevitability of further cases locally and the direct impact that this clause will have on families to be bereaved, please think again.”

The Legal Aid Bill, drafted to save millions of pounds, has been one of the most controversial the Government has tried to get through with numerous amendments.

Industry Today
28 Apr
Results from the 2011 Great British Asbestos Survey have been released and reveals the level of awareness of asbestos in buildings from a wide range of industry. The Survey was completed throughout 2011 by a wide range of professionals representing a range of business sizes and disciplines from across the UK. Overall it would appear that many commercial businesses have asbestos management procedures in place but there are some significant gaps in terms of knowledge of responsibilities, provision of information and training and this is demonstrated by the number of people that have confirmed that they have disturbed asbestos during their activities
Portadown Times
16 Apr
Asbestos was found in the school toilet block at Portadown College. ....... The area was sealed off while an investigation was carried out and the board consulted with asbestos specialists....... One source at the school said the discovery underlined the extent of the problems facing staff and pupils in a building that should have been replaced.

Comment: The school buildings were constructed in 1962

Northampton Chronicle
7 April
People told ‘don’t panic’ over asbestos in Northampton’s public buildings. Officials from Northampton Borough Council have reassured members of the public they should have no fear about the safety of public buildings in the town after the authority published a register showing more than 100 contained asbestos.
The Independent, Financial Times, Law Society Gazette, ITV Anglia News, ITV Tyne Tees, ITV Central, Liverpool Daily Post Families of thousands of workers who have died or suffer from asbestos-related cancers finally won their landmark fight for compensation at the Supreme Court today. Judges ruled that insurance liability was “triggered” when employees were exposed to asbestos dust - and not later, when symptoms of mesothelioma emerged.

The full judgement is at this link

Londonderry Sentinel
4 Mar & 26 Mar
Northern Ireland FOYLE MP Mark Durkan has written to the Education Minister John O’Dowd calling for the Executive to set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools in Northern Ireland. Nine out 10 schools in the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) contain the potentially deadly fire retardant asbestos ... A total of 212 WELB schools (88.65 per cent) contain the potentially cancer-inducing fibre.,,,, Only the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) has more schools where asbestos-containing material can be found (90.71 per cent)..... Education Minister John O’Dowd advised the education sectors “adequately manage the presence of asbestos containing materials in the North of Ireland schools’ estate. Currently there are no plans to provide specific asbestos training to school staff.”
Islington Now
22 Mar
As many as 7,658 pupils at 29 different primary and secondary schools in the borough are learning in classrooms, some with the deadly substance just metres above their heads........ The council began removing asbestos materials from schools eight years ago .......
SMT Magazine
19 Mar
Schools might strive to be healthy, safe environments for students, but hidden asbestos could be putting the very lives of teachers and pupils at risk. New fears have surfaced over the safety of pupils, following a report revealing that more than 75% of Britain’s state schools contain deadly asbestos, much of which is badly maintained.......... Perhaps it will take a while for asbestos to be completely removed from state schools in Britain, and perhaps not all the APPG’s recommendations will be adopted immediately, but one thing’s for certain: this report makes very uncomfortable reading and some changes are likely to be made as a result of its findings.
This is Staffordshire
21 Mar
Fifteen city schools will benefit from £8.7m schools revamp...... The 2012/13 funding includes £6.3 million for 'basic need' projects, more than £3.3 million for capital maintenance, and money for schools to support their own capital developments. Health and safety work covered by the programme will include removing asbestos at some schools and replacing fire alarms.
15 Mar
An Edinburgh Primary school has been evacuated after workmen drilled into AIB. Flora Stevenson Primary school evacuated after asbestos exposed....... asbestos was disturbed during work to upgrade the building. Flora Stevenson Primary school, in the city's Comely Bank, evacuated all 447 pupils and teachers at about noon following the incident

Comment This is the third incident in the last few days and reinforces the principle that any work that could potentially disturb asbestos should only be carried out when the school is not occupied. Also staff and pupils must not return until tests have proved that the contamination has been removed.

Also detailed comments from a legal firm that represents victims: Asbestos Discovery In Two Northern Primary Schools Highlights ‘Urgent Need’ .........

The Argus
10 Mar
Eastbourne teacher "killed by lethal book dust" “According to the claim, Mr Beck was exposed to asbestos in a cupboard where he stored his books during more than 20 years of teaching... “In the classroom, there was a large floor-to-ceiling cupboard which contained two shelves which were made of asbestos. The deceased kept his books and equipment in the cupboard. He placed items in and took items out of the cupboard several times every day.”

Comment: See Page 18 of this link Asbestos in Schools (report from the Asbestos in Schools Group). which summarises the problem of asbestos fibre release from classroom cupboards. Although each exposure is small, if the cupboard is regularly used the cumulative asbestos exposure can be significant.

BBC News Sheffield and South Yorkshire
9 March
Rotherham school closed after asbestos find. A South Yorkshire primary school has been closed temporarily after asbestos was found in part of the building. The asbestos was found at Whiston Junior School, Rotherham, on Thursday as work was carried out before refurbishment over the Easter holidays.

Comment: Whiston Primary School appears to be CLASP Mk 2 1959/60 type of school. If you feed CLASP into 'Search' on this site many references and papers can be found covering asbestos in CLASP schools

BBC News Tees
7 Mar
Hartlepool school closes after asbestos find. A school in Hartlepool has been closed temporarily after asbestos was found in an internal wall. Parents have been reassured there was no risk to the children following the discovery at St Peter's Elwick Church of England Primary School. The material was found encased between wood, plasterboard and tiles during improvement work to the 51-year-old building.
Coventry Telegraph
5 Mar
.... A Leamington teacher died from an asbestos related disease. The teacher, who was in her 50s, had worked at North Leamington School. The union said she did most of her teaching at the school’s former buildings which were demolished in 2009 to make way for a new building on the same site. The dangers of asbestos have been known since Roman times... “Pliny the Elder warned people not to buy slaves who had worked in asbestos mines because they died young. There is only a small chance of contracting a disease but the consequences are devastating"....... “Asbestos does not just harm, it kills, which makes it quite unbelievable that as a country we allow children and staff to be exposed to it.”
British Asbestos Newsletter
Winter 2011-12
The Legal Outlook in 2012 for Asbestos Claimants
Londonderry Sentinel
5 Mar
FOYLE MP Mark Durkan has written to Education Minister John O’Dowd requesting information on the number of Londonderry schools containing asbestos after a new report revealed the toxic fire retardant is present in 75 per cent of UK schools and 100 people die every year as a direct result of exposure whilst at school. Mr Durkan has written to the Education Minister John O’Dowd calling for the Executive to set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools in Northern Ireland.
Independent Training News
(Independent Asbestos Training Providers) - 28 Feb
Successive governments have seen the issue of asbestos in schools as "too big to handle"

Comment A front page article summarising the All Party Parliamentary Group recommendations and the Government's approach to the problem

Surrey Today
27 Feb
A concerned parent is demanding answers after asbestos was found at St Martin's Primary School in Dorking during half term. Surrey County Council (SCC) says it knew some asbestos was present prior to recent work to build two classrooms and a playground, but more was found while improvement work was being carried out in the main building.
This is London
28 Feb
STUDENTS at a Belvedere school returned to their classrooms last week for the first time since asbestos was discovered. News Shopper reported in November how Belvedere Infant School shut after asbestos was found in the hall.
Sec Ed
23 Feb
During a debate called in the House of Commons, Ian Lavery MP demanded that the Department for Education enforce a clear strategy for tackling asbestos in schools, including the phased removal of asbestos containing materials... Mr Lavery told the House that even the simplest of tasks such as inserting drawing pins into the walls or slamming a door five times could release levels of amosite (brown asbestos) fibres more than 600 times greater than the level normally found outdoors
NW Evening Mail
18 Feb
Asbestos Cancer Figures Shock. Barrow has been one of the worst areas in terms of the number of asbestos-related deaths for a number of years, because of the town’s industrial heritage with the shipyard, steelworks and railways. Despite this, there is still disrespect for asbestos; it is still in many schools and other buildings
Bristol Evening Post
17 Feb
ASBESTOS is present in almost 200 schools in the Bristol area. Earlier this month MPs and peers said the presence of the potentially lethal material constituted a "time bomb in our schools", and called for a scheme for its removal. Bristol City Council has told the Evening Post that asbestos is present in about 50 of the city's state primary schools and two secondary schools.But it says it has no plans to remove all of it because of the likely cost. In South Gloucestershire a total of 81 schools – 63 primaries, 13 secondaries, two pupil referral units and three special schools – have asbestos in the fabric of their buildings. In North Somerset, asbestos is present in 52 of the council's 67 primaries and eight of its 10 secondaries. The council audited all buildings in 2009 and 2010, risk assessments were completed and it now has a programme of abatement works, annual re-inspections and training for head teachers. Bath & North East Somerset Council was not able to provide the Post with figures last night but the total number of schools affected in the other three authority areas is 195. ......
Sec Ed
9 Feb 2012

An Editorial

You will often see a Department for Education spokesman quoted as saying something like: “It is unacceptable for schools not to comply with the statutory guidance for asbestos management – no ifs or buts.” This quote is reeled out everytime they are asked about this vital issue. It was used this week in various media and has been sent to SecEd more than once in the past as well. This tired response is unacceptable. The problem is that “management” concentrates on preventing maintenance work disturbing asbestos. But asbestos is commonly found in partition walls, window surrounds, lagging and ceiling panels and tests have shown that common everyday classroom activities such as the slamming of a door can release dangerous levels of fibres. Furthermore, schools are under no obligation to inform teachers and parents about the location and condition of asbestos. Quite often it can be like getting blood from a stone for teachers who want to know if their classroom walls or ceilings contain the material. Another common quote from the DfE, also seen this week, reads something like: “If asbestos is not disturbed or damaged then it is safer to leave it in situ with systems in place to contain and monitor it.” For “safer”, you should read “cheaper”. It is as simple and cold-hearted as that.

Also, a key problem with mesothelioma is that it can take years to present in victims and when people die of the disease, the subsequent inquests do not really consider whether their schools contained asbestos materials.

Comment: A powerful editorial soundly based on practical experience and on the APPG report - which is seperately reported in the same edition

Asbestos Testing and Consultancy Association
9 Feb
ATAC statement “We are in agreement with the statement that properly-managed asbestos presents little risk. However, we can provide literally hundreds of examples each year that we personally have first-hand knowledge of, where effective management controls have either broken down, or were not present at all.”

Comment: The articles below should be read in combination with this authoritative statement from a professional specialist body. ATAC refer in the full statement to schools.

The Argus
10 Feb
East Sussex 93% of schools “assumed to contain asbestos.” Minister states that “it was safer to leave asbestos that remains in buildings undisturbed rather than try to remove it.”
The Shields Gazette
11 Feb
South Shields Ian Lavery MP “The presence and instances of fibres being released is often played down.”
Lancashire Evening Post
11 Feb
500 Lancashire schools contain asbestos but council “County Hall chiefs say staff and pupils have nothing to worry about.
Safety and Health Practitioner - Official magazine of IOSH
8 Feb
Schools asbestos policy hinges on child exposure assessment 08 February 2012 The Government is awaiting the findings of an independent advisory committee on the extent to which children are at risk from exposure to asbestos fibres before reviewing its policy on how schools should manage the substance. Education minister Nick Gibb tried to reassure MPs during an Adjournment debate in the House of Commons yesterday (7 February) that the Government takes the issue of asbestos in schools very seriously ...........
8 Feb
For nearly half an hour last night, British MPs debated the issues of asbestos contamination in schools during an adjournment debate obtained by Labour MP Ian Lavery. The answers provided by Nick Gibb, Minister of State, Department for Education, was a full ten minutes of political flim-flam. The priority for this Government, the Minister said, is to “ensure the safety of staff and pupils at school.” The best way to do that is… to do nothing. All will be well… everything is under control… or, in other words, carry on killing

The Minister’s carefully constructed defense of the current regime was a diversionary tactic intended to downplay the public condemnation of the scandal which has been stimulated by this week’s release of a parliamentary publication entitled Asbestos in Schools – the Need for Action.

Reaction to MP's report
Asbestos in Schools the Need for Action
There has been extensive national coverage and support for the All Party Parliamentary Group call for action on asbestos in schools. It has been reported internationally with some sites in the U.S recognising UK has a worse problem than they do. Issues of the inability of state schools to get asbestos insurance cover for pupils and concerns about the ability of Academies and independent schools to do so have been raised. The six recommendations of the MPs report have been widely supported as a pragmatic and open way forward. A selection of articles are in the sections below this one. There have also been many other national and local radio and TV interviews and many other articles, some of the links to these are as follows:

http://www.itv.com/anglia/asbestos-in-schools25139/: ITV Anglia; http://www.edexec.co.uk/news/1872/asbestos%3A-%93urgent-action-is-needed%94/ :EdEX; http://www.shponline.co.uk/news-content/full/mps-condemn-national-scandal-of-asbestos-in-schools SHP; http://www.workplacelaw.net/content/39228 Workplace law;; http://www.educationbusinessuk.net/eb-news/2878-mps-calling-asbestos-in-schools-a-national-scandal Education Business; http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/mps-condemn-scandal-of-asbsestos-in-schools Construction index; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9055146/MPs-attack-national-scandal-of-asbestos-in-schools.html The Telegraph; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16847575 BBC; http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00n2psz Radio Hampshire 03/02/2012 - 26 minutes from the start for 10 minutes. available until 10 Feb.

Asbestos.net (US legal site) ...... While asbestos exposure in schools is not as severe a problem in the U.S. as it is in the UK,.
3 Feb
... MPs have warned urgent action is needed to address the asbestos “timebomb in our schools”. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, sent to MPs and peers on 1 February, says more than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos. It adds that much of that is badly maintained, leaving children and staff exposed to a potentially deadly danger......
3 Feb
Asbestos in schools - are they insured? ................ This issue came to light after a science experiment went wrong causing an explosion at St Mary’s primary school in Kintbury, Berkshire in April 2011. As a result of this explosion, dust fell from the ceiling and that dust was found to contain asbestos. Pupils were evacuated from the school while specialist cleaners spent the weekend removing asbestos dust. A parent of one of the pupils at the school subsequently made a Freedom Of Information request regarding the insurance this school had for asbestos exposure. The response was confirmation that the school did not have insurance for asbestos exposure and the reason was that it was simply not available for non-employees.... . But what about schools outside local authority control such as independent schools and academies?
2 Feb
GMB warned that there is a grave danger that the recommendations in the report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on “Asbestos in Schools – the need for action”published yesterday will be a dead letter as more and more schools opt out of local authority control and will not have the expertise to implement the recommendations. There is a real risk of increasing the danger of asbestos in schools buildings killing pupils and staff alike if these recommendations are not properly implemented and there is not a mandatory system of accountability. GMB is calling for cast iron guarantees that all schools opting out of local authority control will properly account to parents and staff on a regular basis as to how they plan to implement the report’s important recommendations
The Star
5 Feb
Adrian Budgen, head of asbestos litigation at Sheffield city centre-based Irwin Mitchell, spoke out after a parliamentary report estimated asbestos is present in 75 per cent of UK schools. He said: “We’re waiting for a serious commitment to tackle the asbestos problem in our schools. Without it, there is a risk people will continue to be exposed, with potentially devastating consequences.”
Joint Union Asbestos Campaign
3 Feb
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC)*, a national asbestos trade union campaign group, has backed Asbestos in Schools: the need for action, a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health that highlights the level of danger from asbestos in Britain’s schools.
Voice The Union
2 Feb
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), a national asbestos trade union campaign group, has backed Asbestos in Schools: the need for action, a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health that highlights the level of danger from asbestos in Britain’s schools. The report shows that more than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos. Much of that is badly maintained, meaning that children and staff are exposed to this killer fibre.
BBC News
2 Feb
Last year, the Department for Education (DfE) revealed that its "best estimate" was that more than three-quarters of schools contain asbestos. The Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health's chairman, Jim Sheridan, said: "This is a national scandal. Urgent action is needed to prevent more pupils, teachers and other staff being exposed to this deadly killer dust. We need both far greater awareness of the risks that this material poses and a programme for its phased removal."........ The group's other recommendations include annually updating parents, teachers and staff about asbestos in their schools, and reinstating inspections into asbestos management.... Asbestos was used extensively as a building material from the 1950s until the mid-1980s, often in fireproofing and insulation.... But it becomes dangerous when disturbed. If inhaled, its fibres cause lung complaints such as the fatal mesothelioma and debilitating asbestosis.... Researchers in the US found that for every death of a teacher from asbestos-related diseases, nine children will die.
Huff Post - Universities and Education UK 2Feb Commenting on the report, chairman of the group Jim Sheridan MP said: "This is a national scandal. Urgent action is needed to prevent more pupils, teachers and other staff being exposed to this deadly killer dust. "We need both far greater awareness of the risks that this material poses and a programme for its phased removal." Last year the Department of Education revealed that its "best estimate" is that over 75% of schools contain asbestos. Researchers in the US found that for every death of a teacher from asbestos-related diseases, nine children will die. Children are more vulnerable because they have longer than adults to develop diseases related to the material.
2 Feb
All Party parliamentary Group calls for urgent action on asbestos in schools ..... “Asbestos does not just harm, it kills, which makes it quite unbelievable that as a country we allow children and staff in schools to be exposed to it. .... “The APPG has made six eminently sensible recommendations. Now is the time for the Government to stop burying its head in the sand, acknowledge the extent of the problem and begin to address it.”
Times Educational Supplement
19 Jan
Changes in the pipeline could see local authorities relieved of their liability for health and safety, with the onus handed to school governors. The problem is that this would include liability for asbestos, a still-common and deadly material that was used in the construction of schools until the 1980s......... "This increased responsibility would need to be backed by funding for the increased insurance costs and access to finances to rectify structural problems currently managed by local authorities - for example, dealing with the discovery of hazardous asbestos in school buildings." It would seem that taking responsibility for such a discovery - and the potentially vast financial and health implications - in return for a reduction in red tape is a cost that most school governors will not be prepared to pay.
New York City Public Schools An Introduction to Asbestos in Schools Doin' it Right. A 1978 video warning to schools about asbestos. The 28 minute film was produced for NYC schools. There are 3.5 minutes of it here. It provides an explanation of asbestos, the dangers it poses to our health, and the importance of precautionary measures to prevent exposures... .A booklet was also developed by Battelle Laboratories and New York City schools, in cooperation with the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Cancer Institute.

Comment A thirty year old video showing that the USA were aware of the asbestos problem in schools at that time and were ensuring open discussion and action. The accompanying script at the link describes Americas specific laws and actions to deal with asbestos in schools - including a link to the Code of Federal regulations requirements - including that for local education agencies to "Provide yearly notification to parent, teacher, and employee organizations regarding the availability of the school's asbestos management plan and any asbestos abatement actions taken or planned in the schools". In UK after 30 years we still refuse to do this or treat children in schools as especially vulnerable..

Independent Asbestos Training Providers -Jan ..... We are currently in discussions with DfE on developing web based training for head teachers and others with responsibility for managing premises and thus asbestos. There now appears at least a greater acceptance by the DfE that this is a major problem after years of governments of all persuasions effectively ignoring it.....

Comment: A wide ranging editorial on asbestos developments.

London Hazards Centre
29 Jan
.... gives details about teacher Joan Henry who taught in two east London schools and died of mesothelioma, aged 57, in 2007. The London Pensions Fund Authority, responsible for staff from the former Inner London Education Authority and GLC, has set aside £85m to fund future cases. They see about 12 cases a year and expect this to double to around 24 cases a year
The Independent on Sunday
29 Jan
....... The annual death toll from asbestos-related diseases in Britain alone is expected to be at least 5,000 by 2015. More than 228 teachers have died of mesothelioma since 1980, according to the campaign group Asbestos in Schools, who, citing US government research, believe a further nine children will die for every teacher dying from the disease, resulting in more than 2,000 deaths of children in adulthood.....
This is Staffordshire
24 Jan
An extra £7.4 million will have to be ploughed into rebuilding two city schools. Stoke-on-Trent City Council has gone back to the drawing board on plans for Holden Lane High School and Abbey Hill Special School. Instead of refurbishment, both schools will now be rebuilt, with an asbestos-ridden 1960s building at Holden Lane being replaced with a new complex with room for 900 pupils.
12 Jan
Managing Asbestos in Schools - Frequently asked questions. It includes: What is asbestos?.... Why is asbestos dangerous?... Where is asbestos found in schools? .... and management roles and duties.
9 Jan
Government warned of danger of making school governors wholly responsible for health and safety of pupils and staff The Government’s own estimate is that 75% of all schools and colleges in the UK contain asbestos. The UK has the highest incidence of mesothelioma deaths in the world, with school staff deaths from mesothelioma increasing year on year.,,,, Ms Winn said: “This latest prosecution increases our concerns about the Government’s plans to make the governors of all state-funded schools responsible for the health and safety of their pupils and staff......
Express and Star
5 Jan
Charges have been brought against Staffordshire County Council after dangerous asbestos fibres were released into a primary school. The alert ....... shut Glenthorne Primary in Cheslyn Hay for four months and cost taxpayers £246,000.
Voice: The Union for Educational professionals 4 Jan JUAC Chair Julie Winn pointed out that the governing body (and therefore the governors) would be expected to become the employer and would have to assume the full legal responsibilities for the staff and the pupils in schools: “Governors freely volunteered their time and expertise to support schools but this is a step too far. It is hard to envisage how Governors will cope with this additional responsibility with the limited time and resources available to them. “Despite the fact that more than 75% of all UK schools contain asbestos, currently there exists no specific school guidance for the management of asbestos in schools nor any specific training on the management of asbestos in schools. The Government has also recently scrapped health and safety inspections of schools that ensured they were achieving safe standards. This is yet a further attempt to deregulate without proper consideration for the practical impact upon the risk to the health and safety of staff and pupils in UK schools. This is completely unacceptable when considered against the background of the UK which has the highest incidence of mesothelioma deaths in the world and with teacher deaths from mesothelioma increasing year on year.”
4 Jan
Supporting the Joint Union Asbestos Committee statement of opposition to the DfE's plans to transfer the responsibility for health and safety from local authorities to governing bodies, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said: “Yet another reckless, ideologically driven proposal from the DfE, which will put the welfare and well-being of pupils and staff at risk. Any sensible governing body will reject this proposal. Not only do most governing bodies lack the expertise to manage the legislative provisions, but also no governing body should willingly take on the potential huge financial liability this responsibility entails.”
4 Jan 2012
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee* (JUAC) said that a recent judgement against the University of Lincoln, which exposed staff to asbestos fibres, indicated how easily things can go wrong if asbestos is not properly managed in educational institutions. It underlines how important it is that the Government does not transfer responsibility away from local authorities who have the specialist knowledge and resources to help local authority schools safely maintain their asbestos....“This is yet a further attempt to deregulate without proper consideration of the practical impact on the risk to the health and safety of staff and pupils in UK schools. The UK already has the highest incidence of mesothelioma deaths in the world, with teacher deaths from mesothelioma increasing year on year. We fear these changes will put more staff and pupils at risk of potentially deadly exposure to asbestos.”
Gloucestershire Echo
16 Dec
AN ELECTRICIAN who was exposed to asbestos at work sites including Cheltenham Ladies' College died of an industrial disease, a coroner has ruled........... Before he died, Mr McQuire made a statement in which he claimed he was exposed to asbestos and asbestos dust while working in a number of boiler houses, including one at the Ladies' College, where pipes and boilers were lagged with asbestos.
The Courier
8 Dec
.... said Stephan. ''We have a school you cannot put pins in the walls or you will get asbestos poisoning...." Madras College pupils tell the real story behind Scotland's school statistics
The Shields Gazette
8 Dec
A MASSIVE school upgrade is finally set for completion six months over deadline due to asbestos fears. The £12m modernisation of St Wildfrid’s RC College in Temple Park Road, South Shields, should have finished last spring. But the existence of asbestos – spotted in early site surveys in 2009 – hampered progress. Education chiefs insist the delay was unavoidable to ensure its safe removal from one section of the school at a time. They claim it was impossible to do intrusive surveys into brick and mortar while the school was occupied..... St Wilfrid’s is the second school to suffer recent asbestos-related hold-ups. The discovery of the material led to a three-month delay to the £25m redevelopment of Harton Technology College in South Shields, after engineers found it under classroom floorboards in the Edwardian-built school.
News Shopper
29 Nov
PARENTS have been left angry after a Belvedere school was closed due to asbestos. Traces of asbestos were discovered in the hall at Belvedere Infant School, in Mitchell Close, on November 17. The school has been closed as a safety precaution since November 18. All lessons have been suspended until at least December 1, when pupils will be taught elsewhere. The school itself is not expected to open again until February next year.
Bexley Times
24 Nov
Asbestos alert closes Belvedere Infant School until February. Children were removed from Belvedere Infant School, Mitchell Close, Belvedere, on Friday of last week and the school was closed after builders suspected dust contained the substance when they were carrying out work in the main hall a day earlier.
Evening Gazette
14 Oct
AN ASBESTOS victim’s son has called on council chiefs to warn his late father’s former colleagues and pupils at a Teesside school. Nick Teasdale believes others who were at the same school may have contracted the deadly disease which killed his dad.His father Norman Teasdale, a former Stockton councillor, worked at the then Billingham Campus School in Marsh House Avenue ..Mr Teasdale was exposed to asbestos from 1962 to 1975, while working as a woodwork and metalwork teacher.
Universities & Education Huff Post
19 Nov
Asbestos: 'Better Protection' Needed After College Cleaner Dies From Exposure. The death of a cleaner, who died from lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos at the college she worked, has prompted calls for better protection for school staff. A tribunal ruled on Tuesday that Brenda Waddell’s death in September was caused by exposure to the deadly substance while she cleaned classrooms at Grimsby College, Lincolnshire
Morning Star
18 Nov
Health & safety cuts 'pose deadly risk in schools' .. Ms Cartmail (UNITE) said that the executive was leading the fight to stamp out deaths caused by the fibrous substance, whose use remained widespread until it was banned in the mid-1980s. ..."The most recent HSE report on 158 schools including academies found that 30 schools had actions taken against them," she said. There were 70 breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and 74 were related to poor asbestos management." She added that ministers' obsession with removing schools from local authority control was hampering the fight.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
16 Nov
The death of a woman exposed to asbestos while working as a cleaner in a college highlights how the deadly material should no longer just be associated with industrial environments, an asbestos-related disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell has outlined.... A verdict of industrial-related death was recorded at the inquest into Brenda Waddell’s death, after the coroner heard a statement prepared by the deceased in which it was revealed she most likely came into contact with asbestos while working at Grimsby College between 1984 and 2007.Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at Irwin Mitchell, said cases like that of Mrs Waddell are increasingly common.... He outlined: “While still largely linked with industrial sites, we are increasingly seeing a number of cases in which those working in buildings like hospitals and schools – including pupils – have been exposed to asbestos. “This deadly material has left a terrible mark on so many lives and cases of this kind only serve to demonstrate why councils, employers and firms in the construction trade need to ensure they are following the best possible safety standards when working in close proximity to it.

“We act for so many victims and families who have lost loved ones as a result of companies ignoring the dangers and it is vital that this stops. Lessons need to be learned and safety standards improved if other people are to avoid the terrible impact of asbestos exposure.”

The Lincolnite
16 Nov
The University of Lincoln was fined £10,000 for not dealing with asbestos on its campus and ordered to pay £12,760 in costs to the Health and Safety Executive. The failings came to light in February 2010, when a lecturer became trapped in a room after a door lock broke. Once she was freed, debris around the door handle was noticed. It was revealed that the university didn’t act on two reports about asbestos (in 2006 and 2007) in several of its buildings, including Chad Varah House off Drury Lane. Inspector for the HSE, Edward Walker, explained members of staff as well as students and contractors were put at risk.“The university clearly failed to manage the risks associated with these materials, they had a plan in place but failed to implement that plan.”
Hebden Bridge Times Exposure to asbestos at school - and in ‘snowballs’ - led to Mabel’s death at 72 .... Coroner Roger Whittaker recorded that the cause of death was industrial disease.“I needed to be clear that Mrs Midgley died of asbestos poisoning and not with it,” he said.“The evidence believes me to conclude that she was exposed to asbestos from Acre Mill while at school.”..... “I remember it would be quite dusty in the playground when we played there. I remember seeing asbestos in the gutters and fluffy white bits of asbestos in the air. The boys would make snow balls out of asbestos and would throw them around.”

Comment: (Hebden Bridge site) Hundreds of people in the Hebden Bridge area have died from asbestos related cancers, mainly contracted from working at Acre Mill. Below, we have tried to include pieces related to the Acre Mill story, the dangers of asbestos, how the guilty companies must have been aware of their murderous activities and of the victims’ long fight for justice and compensation.

Sunday Mercury
13 Nov
A UNIVERSITY employee may have died from cancer after being exposed to asbestos in laboratories or during building work, her grieving husband has claimed.,,. The mum-of-two had worked as a secretary for the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Aston between 1974 and 1984. ...... And husband Christopher believes she was exposed to asbestos while regularly visiting labs, where Bunsen burner mats and gloves were routinely made from asbestos.

Comment See the paper on staff and pupils use of asbestos materials in school science lessons. It explains the past and present risks and has copies of government letters identifying the problem and the risks and the inaction that followed. It covers the court case of a science teacher who died in this way.

Headteacher Magazine (for primary school headteachers)
The DfE estimate that 75 per cent of schools contain asbestos .... the Medical Research Council examined the extent, type and location of asbestos in schools and said "Children attending schools built prior to 1975 are likely to inhale around 3 million respirable asbestos fibres.."... "Exposure to asbestos in schools may therefore constitute a significant part of total exposure" ... "it is not unreasonable to assume ... that the entire school population have been exposed to asbestos in school buildings"..

Childen are more vulnerable to the effects of asbestos than adults.. It is most important that all members of teaching and support staff are trained in asbestos awareness....

Comment a detailed, factual article at pp15, 16 and 17 of the magazine.

Construction Enquirer
3 Nov
Education minister Michael Gove has unveiled details of more than 100 local authorities set to receive £500m for essential school building and repair work...Extra cash will fund mainly smaller primary school projects

Comment £500 million has been allocated to essential school building and repair work for mainly small primary schools. Hopefully asbestos remediation and removal will be a priority.

Independent Asbestos Training Providers
1 Nov
.....The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) calls for a national audit of asbestos in school buildings after figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that of the small number of academies inspected approximately 60% had enforcement action taken against them for failing to adequately manage the asbestos in their buildings.(See page 2 of Independent Training News)
25 Oct
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) calls for a national audit of asbestos in school buildings after figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that of the small number of academies inspected approximately 60% had enforcement action taken against them for failing to adequately manage the asbestos in their buildings. Government estimates are that 75% of all UK schools have buildings that comprise asbestos containing materials.......

".....to suggest that most schools have adequate arrangements in place for managing asbestos in the absence of a national collection of data on the condition of all school buildings which includes an audit of the extent, type and condition of the asbestos within them, is like saying what you don't know can't hurt you."

The Herts Advertiser
22 Oct
A SECONDARY school has been served with two improvement notices following random asbestos management checks by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Nicholas Breakspear School in Colney Heath Lane, St Albans, was one of 164 non-local authority controlled schools across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire to be inspected between November 2010 and June this year. .
TUC Risks Bulletin
22 Oct
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been criticised for putting a positive spin on the 'devastating' findings of its investigation into asbestos management in independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools and academics. An analysis by the Asbestos in Schools campaign of survey data released by HSE concluded almost a third of independent schools inspected by HSE had enforcement action taken for criminal breaches relating to asbestos management. (At the link under the heading "campaign slams 'devastating' school asbestos findings)
The Construction Index
One in six private schools fail asbestos compliance checks
Western Morning News
17 October
Highfields School in Cornwall ..... was .... served with an improvement notice following a recent inspection by the HSE officials. The school, in Redruth, which caters for infant, junior, and secondary school children had "fallen below acceptable standards" when it came to dealing with the substance...... We took action where schools had fallen below acceptable standards and we are working across the education sector to raise awareness and find ways to make it clearer for schools to understand their legal responsibilities.
Evening Gazette
14 Oct
AN ASBESTOS victim’s son has called on council chiefs to warn his late father’s former colleagues and pupils at a Teesside school. Nick Teasdale believes others who were at the same school may have contracted the deadly disease which killed his dad..... He said: “Dad knew of at least one other colleague from Billingham Campus who had died of mesothelioma two years after he was diagnosed. I will bet there are others. And not just the teachers either. The students, who might only be in their fifties and sixties, were also exposed to asbestos.".

“Stockton Council should let these people know what’s going on."

Voice - the Union for Educational professionals
10 October
The nation's education trade unions today renewed calls for government to proactively manage asbestos in schools following the recent publication of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) figures on enforcement action taken against schools. The enforcement was the result of a round of inspections of mainly non-local authority schools...... Raising awareness and improved training in the management of asbestos is fundamental to health and safety in UK schools containing asbestos. Recently published government figures show that at least 75% of all schools in the UK have buildings which use asbestos containing materials."
SHP - Official magazine of the Institute of Safety and Health
12 October
Free schools could exacerbate asbestos-management shortcomings..... chair of the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign Julie Winn said: “Raising awareness and improved training in the management of asbestos is fundamental to health and safety in UK schools containing asbestos. Recently-published government figures show that at least 75 per cent of all schools in the UK have buildings that use asbestos-containing materials.” ..... about £20,000 of funding has been set aside to support the (Government) training website, but that will dry up within a year, with the Government apparently still unsure where the money will come from to enable it to continue.
Lancashire Telegraph
3 October
Lancashire County Council has approved a £14.2million scheme that will overhaul some buildings and make them energy efficient. .... a  total of £5,153,704 has been allocated to schools including Burnley Heasandford Primary School, Haslingden High School, Hollins Technology College and Sabden Primary School. The approved works will include replacement boilers, roofs, rewiring and removing asbestos.
Ealing Gazette
29 Sept
Asbestos scare resolved at Northolt High School.. Students have been forced to study in temporary buildings as a school rushed to clear a small amount of asbestos disturbed during repair work....... The school was unaware of the asbestos, and brought in specialists immediately to safely remove the deadly material from the site in Eastcote Lane.

Comment The article states that "The fibre, which can lead to fatal lung diseases only when exposed and inhaled in large quantities". This is incorrect. Expert medical and epidemiological opinion is that there is no threshold level of exposure to asbestos below which there is no risk. (see page 8) This is accepted by the Courts, as is the benchmark for a
“Significant” exposure which is defined by the Industrial Injury Advisory Council as being above normal background levels.

BBC News - Highlands and Islands
23 Sept
Concern over asbestos shuts Inverness Royal Academy.....A school in the Highlands has been shut temporarily following concerns about a water leak in part of the building where there is asbestos.
Mansfield Chad
19 Sept
Kirkby man died of asbestos exposure... Mr Seagrave (73) had said in a statement in November last year that he came into contact with the deadly substance while working at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic through his protective gloves and the bricks in a kiln which also contained asbestos.
Kilburn Times
18 Sept
Parents remove their children from Neasden primary school over asbestos concerns. .... The potentially lethal material was found by workmen in Brentfield Primary School, in Meadow Garth, Neasden, over the summer holidays. Parts of the building have been cordoned off and parents say their children have been forced to use toilets in nearby Neasden Temple. They also say hot food is off the menu and children are being forced to eat their lunches in classrooms. A worried mother, who wished not to be named, said: “The school should be closed until all the work is carried out but the council doesn’t want to do this...".
Sec Ed
15 Sept
The number of teachers who die every year from the asbestos- related cancer mesothelioma has increased from three in 1980 to 16 in 2008. And with 75 percent of our schools still thought to contain the deadly material, there is concern that this figure is only going to get worse. Michael Lees, whose wife, a teacher, died in 2000 after contracting mesothelioma .... is calling for some key changes in the way we manage asbestos in our schools, the guidance we give to our school leaders, and the levels of exposure we consider dangerous... In this special edition of Sec Ed Mr Lees sets out his arguments and asks the DfE some key questions about its asbestos policy.... The DfE response is shown ... The questions include:
  • Does the government accept that staff and pupils are being exposed to asbestos in schools?
  • Will the government carry out a full audit into the condition of the asbestos in our schools?
  • Will a policy of openness be adopted so staff and parents are not left in the dark?
  • Will the government adopt lower and safer asbestos exposure levels for schools?

Comment: The response from Department for Education to the nine questions is very detailed, very carefully written and dangerously flawed - most of the flaws can be identified by reading the main article - others can be identified from this site.

The Construction Index
13 Sept
Silverdell also picked up new waste remediation and asbestos management contracts. Cambridge County Council has picked Silverdell for its Cambridge MTC Framework to carry out various remediation and consultancy projects in schools and other public buildings. The framework contract is to last three years with an approximate value of £900,000 shared between several contractors. There is also an option to extend by a further 12 months
Sec Ed
8 Sept
VOICE - The Union. Asbestos - A Key Priority. The Asbestos in Schools Campaign continues to take steps forward. Written guidance and online training will be available to schools this term. The goal is properly funded training for headteachers, school managers, teaching and support staff, governors and local authorities.. The school staff unions ... are stressing to schools the need to keep awareness of asbestos management a priority. ,,, The conclusions of an HSE inspection programme on asbestos management in schools outside local authority controls will be published shortly and they are expected to confirm that significant improvement is needed in the standards of asbestos management.... JUAC will continue its campaign for a government policy of openness, following the basic principle of risk-management by assessing the scale of the problem and the risks in our schools... An assessment of the increased vulnerability of children to asbestos is now being undertaken by the Department of Health Committee on Carcinogenicity. This is a welcome development and an acknowledgement that children have been exposed to asbestos in schools. 

... Expert opinion is that there is no threshold of exposure below which there is no risk and that all exposure is cumulative. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that all exposures above the normal background levels are considered as causative and as a consequence the local authority concerned was held legally responsible in a claim by a former pupil who developed mesothelioma. Before the case was concluded, she sadly died.
Telegraph and Argus
8 Sept
Bradford Asbestos Victims Support Group wants a comprehensive audit of asbestos in Bradford schools and for asbestos awareness training to be given to head teachers, governors, teachers, school caretakers and health and safety representatives. The call for more action comes after an inquest was held this week into the death of Bradford teacher Graham Butterfield from asbestos-linked cancer... “The fact is that the majority of schools nationally have unacceptable standards of asbestos management and place pupils and teachers at risk of contamination. “There are widespread failings in the way asbestos is managed, with some schools demonstrating no knowledge at all of how to protect employees and pupils from the deadly substance.”
Morning Star
7 Sept
Graham Butterfield died in January this year at a Marie Curie Hospice. He had worked as a geography teacher at Hutton Middle School and Tong Comprehensive School between 1967 and 1996 and while at Hutton, had helped with the cabling of computers which involved being exposed to asbestos lagging dust. At an inquest this week Acting Coroner Professor Paul Marks recorded a verdict of death due to industrial disease. Mr Butterfield's widow Marilyn Butterfield told the Telegraph & Argus: "You often hear about workers in heavy industry becoming ill in later life but Graham was a teacher and we were shocked when Graham was told that he had an asbestos disease. "I call upon politicians of all parties to look seriously at the problem of asbestos in schools and plan properly how to ensure the safety of teachers and pupils in the future......

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The NUT is saddened to learn of the death of Mr Butterfield, another victim of mesothelioma. "The disease has claimed the lives of so many people, including 92 teachers and lecturers between 2001 and 2005. "The NUT will continue to campaign for the improved management and ultimate removal of asbestos from all schools. A national audit of asbestos management in educational establishments has been long-called for and is both urgent and vital."

5 Sept
Birmingham City Council ..... have been sentenced for exposing three men to asbestos during work on a school.. Solihull Supplies Ltd, of Lodge Road, Knowle, was contracted by the council to refurbish the reception area at William Cowper Community Primary School, Newtown, Birmingham.

Comment Birmingham City council have been prosecuted for the allowing the removal of AIB ceiling tiles from a school contrary to the Regulations. “A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the tiles contained brown asbestos and the work lasted several hours, exposing both workers and the school caretaker to asbestos. Also, rather than use a cleaner with a specialised filter, an ordinary vacuum cleaner was used which would have spread fibres into the air.”

Northolt High School
19 Aug
....... Unfortunately work in this previously enclosed part of the school has revealed the presence of asbestos.  In keeping with asbestos regulations the school has an Asbestos Register.  This buried asbestos was not recorded on the Register.  An analysis has been carried out by a registered company and has confirmed the presence of asbestos in this location.... Before the digging during the same holiday period, the asbestos had not been disturbed.  Therefore it did not pose any danger to the health of students or staff in the Eliot building before the end of term. 
Daily Mirror
6 Sept
YOUNG tradesman who think asbestos is no longer a danger are to get a wake-up call over the hidden killer which is claiming more lives than ever..... Now the Health and Safety Executive has teamed up with industry to give 4,000 hours of extra training as part of its Hidden Killer campaign. That is one hour for every death each year in Britain from asbestos-related diseases. The initiative complements our Asbestos Timebomb campaign, which is calling for a national audit of all public buildings, including schools, for the killer dust.
Sunday Mercury
2 Sep
But perhaps the most worrying of situations is at Wood Green Academy, Wednesbury, where asbestos-riddled buildings with narrow corridors and rickety old windows are just some of the problems. ........... “We’ve got lots of aged buildings, 1960s windows, asbestos-riddled buildings, narrow corridors and the site is split by a road – it’s just not fit for purpose in the 21st century,” he said.
Daily Post N Wales
3 Sept
A YALE COLLEGE block was cordoned off after asbestos was found..... A block at Yale College’s Bersham Road site in Wrexham was taped off after the potentially toxic substance was discovered during maintenance and cleaning work....... If the fibres are inhaled they can cause diseases, which are responsible for around 4,000 deaths a year across the UK.
This is Gloucestershire
29 Aug
School asbestos caused death of retired builder..

Comment: John Partridge was a builder and has sadly died of mesothelioma. At his inquest the Coroner gave a verdict of death from industrial disease and ruled that “Removing asbestos from school buildings in Cheltenham during the 1970s resulted in the death of a retired builder.” The inquest had been given evidence that: "In the late 1970s and early 1980s he worked for Cheltenham Borough Council...He would often say he had removed asbestos from ceilings and partitions in schools. He had taken down schools which contained asbestos parts...The parts would be swept up and put in trucks, which he drove."

In 2006 South Gloucester Council was prosecuted and fined £25,000 for allowing an unlicensed contractor to remove AIB ceiling tiles. The resultant asbestos contamination cost £300,000 in clean up costs. In 2006 all councils were instructed to seal the columns in system built schools to prevent the release of asbestos fibres. In 2010 Gloucester County Council had failed to follow the instruction and had enforcement action taken against them.

North West Evening Mail
17 Aug
Asbestos Victims have been betrayed... A proposal for a “fund of last resort” of up to £400m – to help former workers unable to trace the employers who exposed them to asbestos dust – has been dropped, a trade union said..... And a separate plan for a national research centre for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases has also been abandoned... . UCATT said there was also grim implications from the axing of the Building Schools for the Future programme, which meant many ageing schools “riddled with asbestos” would still be used.
Medway Messenger
5 Aug
A school caretaker who was suspended over an asbestos scare says Medway Council made him a scapegoat. Tony Riddington, 52, former caretaker at Woodlands Primary School, Gillingham, accused officers of ignoring asbestos problems since a 2002 fire, and trying to pin the full blame for a 2009 scare on him. ...... "I believe they are trying to prevent potential future litigation regarding asbestos."

The council's principal auditor Graham Matthews admitted the fiasco had caused "considerable embarrassment" and the council's handing had been "inadequate".

Dumfries and Galloway Standard
27 July
A VILLAGE primary school is in a “diabolical state” after being allowed to rot........He said: “The school has serious problems with rotting window frames and the exterior badly needs painted. I tried to get the education authority to let us paint it but was knocked back for health and safety reasons.... “These buildings from the 1980s had a bit of asbestos in them and as they’re not getting painted or maintained, there could be asbestos blowing around the area and around these children,” he said.
John Pickering Action Mesothelioma Day Summary. A good summary of activities across UK on Action Mesothelioma Day
Construction Enquirer
19 July

BBC News Derby
26 July

Coventry Telegraph
27 July

Shropshire Star
27 July

A list of £81.5m worth of repairs consisting of 344 projects across 217 Academies. .....£2bn PFI plan to revive dumped BSF schools. Education secretary Michael Gove has launched plans to raise £2bn in PFI funding to build or improve up to 300 schools. The private finance programme will be open to local authorities and schools that had their funding pulled when Building Schools for the Future was dumped. Any school, local authority or academy can apply for funding from today with the first school built under the new programme due to be completed by 2014. Gove also confirmed today that he would not restore BSF projects in six areas which challenged the termination of the scheme by seeking a judicial review.

Comment The projects listed above often do not mention asbestos but our analysis is that many of these Class one repairs are because of it. The following are examples of asbestos related projects that have been reported in the media. The £81.5 m is welcome but it is estimated that 5 times that amount is needed this year alone just to make schools structurally sound and safe.

...... the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign (JUAC) .. earlier this year undertook a survey which found ‘worrying shortcomings’ in the management of asbestos in schools. The findings, coupled with the recent decision to exempt schools from routine inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and massive cuts to the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, have provoked the call for the introduction of an annual asbestos report in all schools.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to maintain asbestos in schools but the JUAC survey found that only a third of union safety reps questioned could be sure an accurate asbestos register was kept in their workplace. The introduction of an annual report would raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos among the public and school staff and encourage local authorities to be more proactive in managing it effectively.

17 July
MORE than 1.8 million people are exposed to deadly asbestos every year, with one dying from asbestos-related cancer every four hours ........ The shocking figures from the UK Health and Safety Executive reveal at least 5,000 deaths from mesothelioma a year are expected by 2015, although some experts say the figure could be far higher. ......
Derby Telegraph
13 July


BBC Derby
7 July

It could be several weeks before pupils at a Derbyshire special school are able to use their hall again after asbestos was discovered....... " It has now been possible to create a sealed tunnel through the hall to make life easier. .... .The school was due to be rebuilt before the Government pulled the plug on the national Building Schools for the Future programme a year ago.Mrs McKenzie (headteacher) said: "Money will be spent repairing the hall ceiling but there are other huge problems around the school that need addressing."

Comment: The school appears to be a CLASP System Build School. For problems with this type of school see "Release of asbestos fibres in System Build Schools part 1" and "Release of asbestos fibres in System Build Schools part 2".
BBC Derby Alfreton Park Community Special School. Ceiling tiles surrounded by asbestos collapse in hallway. School closed for a day. School known to contain asbestos and a new school was to be built but was cancelled by the government. (the item is 16 minutes into the programmme). Also at this link

The Times
8 July
Britain's death rate from mesothelioma is the highest in the world. So why do three quarters of our schools still contain asbestos? .... Professor Julian Peto, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says that children are more likely to contract mesothelioma because they have longer to do so......

Comment: A good double page article by Mark Piggott. The Times is a subscription web site (£1 for thirty days - the article was on 8 July).There were three excellent letters in response from the Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, from Dr Andrew Lawson and Paul Rowen a former MP. They not only point out the way forward, but illustrate the worries in schools and hospitals. They comment from specialist knowledge and experience on major flaws in the DfE comments and the Department of Health response. One DfE defensive statement being labelled "risible". To see their letters and a short factual analysis see this link

(magazine for Primary School Heads) 6 Jul
..... Around 14,000 primary and secondary schools were built in the 30-year period after 1945 when the use of asbestos was at its peak. ACMs are commonly found in partition walls, window surrounds, lagging and ceiling panels. Fibres and dust can be released if structures are not well maintained or sometimes if doors or windows are slammed....

after an asbestos management survey of all local authorities in England, 45 were targeted for inspection. Of these, 32 required formal advice on improvements, 10 required enforcement action, and 18 improvement notices and one prohibition notice were issued.

7 Jul
We need to Know: Call for new asbestos laws. Around 14,000 primary and secondary schools were built in the 30-year period after 1945 when the use of asbestos was at its peak. ACMs are commonly found in partition walls, window surrounds, lagging and ceiling panels. Fibres and dust can be released if structures are not well maintained or sometimes if doors or windows are slammed......

........“The government’s concern appears to be that if the public understands the nature of the problem they’re only going to panic and want all asbestos removed from every school, which the government appears to believe is too high a price. This concern is exaggerated: the panic has not happened in the US. We are campaigning for effective asbestos management and progressive, not immediate, removal.” AiS spokeswoman quote.

Video briefing
Julie Winn, partner at Morrish Solicitors, Chair of the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign and spokesperson for Asbestos in Schools campaign, briefs on asbestos in schools.... JUAC and AiS call for the UK government to adopt a US-style approach to managing asbestos in schools. In the US, where schools produce an annual report on the condition and management practices of asbestos on their premises and asbestos is inspected every 6-12 months. Every year in the UK, more and more teachers and support staff are dying from mesothelioma contracted when they were exposed to asbestos in their workplace.
Kent On Line
5 July
The revelation comes after an investigation into an unauthorised £1 million project at Woodlands Primary School in Gillingham. A 106 page report states that: ..... Asbestos safety actions were not complied with.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) had to be called in."Asbestos exposure was found within the construction area of the school, and a number of issues were highlighted by building control and by a fire risk assessment." .... "There were no procedures in place to ensure that the construction works could be separated from children/staff."

The News
4 July
doves at mesothelioma Ian Hargeaves photo DOZENS of people gathered to watch a ceremonial dove released to recognise those who have suffered from asbestos-related cancer. The event on Southsea Common marked Action Mesothelioma Day yesterday – a day intended to raise awareness about the cancer and how the deadly dust is still around today...........

‘...... Even though it’s banned, it’s still in older buildings, like homes and schools. There have been cases where teachers have got mesothelioma because they’ve been exposed. We don’t want to scare people but we need to make people aware it’s still out there and ensure that people in charge of buildings are managing it correctly, to ensure it’s safe.’

The Star
4 July
“Asbestos has long been associated with heavy industry but sadly we are seeing an increasing number of people from other sectors - such as health and education - falling victim to diseases like mesothelioma...... “Over the years, as asbestos-containing materials began to deteriorate and crumble, many UK workers were inhaling the lethal fibres as they went about their daily tasks, completely unaware of the dangers they were facing, putting them at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease
Ed Exec
1 July
An ex-teacher, Carole Hagedorn, from Chelmsford, was diagnosed with mesothelioma after a 35-year career in teaching... She commented: "Needless to say, I had not imagined teaching to have such deadly potential. It is shameful that some schools are failing to protect children and staff in them. We must get a grip of this problem." In March 2011, in Hungerford Primary School, a hydrogen balloon exploded during a chemistry demonstration, shaking asbestos dust from ceiling panels onto 70 pupils.

In America, there are tougher rules to govern the safety of asbestos in schools. In 1986, US Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act or AHERA. This requires all schools to audit their ACMs and develop appropriate management plans, and for each school authority to regularly inform parents and teachers of that plan. ACMs have to be communicated to parents and teachers every six months.

This is Derbyshire
1 July
THE widow of a teacher who died of asbestos-related cancer has called for the Government to do more to protect pupils and staff from the deadly dust... Carol Anthony's husband, Alan, died of mesothelioma after he was believed to have been exposed to asbestos while working in a London comprehensive school.
Safety and Health Practitioner
1 July
The Manchester-based Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK claims the situation is reaching crisis proportions because of the Government’s policy to reduce asbestos protection. As evidence it cites the halting of the HSE’s ‘Hidden Killer’ campaign, the failure to audit the extent, type and condition of asbestos in schools, and the lack of asbestos safeguards for tenants in social housing. ..... According to the Forum, there were 2400 cases of mesothelioma – a fatal cancer of the lung pleura whose only known cause is exposure to asbestos – diagnosed in 2008, and 2249 deaths. It also says the rate of female death from the disease is rising exponentially and is more than three times higher in the UK than in the US.
Shields Gazette
30 June
South Tyneside campaigner Anne Craig will take part in the seventh annual Action Mesothelioma Day, at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle tomorrow. The event will include the release of four doves at noon, plus a seminar about the killer disease mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
Asbestos Industry News
16 June
Deteriorating School Building Does Contain Asbestos, but is Safe Stockton Council's Education officials have confirmed that the deteriorating three-storey block at Ian Ramsey Church of England School does contain asbestos but that the substance is managed. The Education officials have assured all parents that pupils are safe to be taught in the building, but only until repair work starts this autumn when the asbestos will be managed safely during the building works. The HSE commented that pupils and teachers at Ian Ramsey C of E school are highly unlikely to be at risk as long as the asbestos is managed safely.
E Politix
29 June
The decision to axe the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has meant fewer amounts of deadly asbestos will be removed from schools .... Advice to teachers who feared they may have been exposed was to register that with the school and ensure it was put into the school's records, or alternatively insist the same was done by the local authority.
Linex Legal
29 June
Willmore case highlights school asbestos liability. A recent poll of 600 school safety representatives conducted by eight teaching unions has identified “worrying short-comings” in the management of asbestos in schools. There are many serious conditions which can arise following exposure to asbestos...
(subscription site)
Tonbridge Courier 14 June

Deadly asbestos at Hugh Christie Technology College. The court had been told an asbestos survey showed "extremely hazardous material" throughout the building. .......

Comment Over 1,000 pupils aged 11-18 are taught at the college. The old buildings were occupied until 2007. In 2009 contractors removed asbestos which led to their prosecution by HSE. At the trial “the court had been told an asbestos survey showed "extremely hazardous material" throughout the building”.  It is concerning that this asbestos was present when the buildings were occupied by staff and pupils.

(The article describes the trial, which collapsed, of the firm responsible for removing the asbestos. The reason for the collapse was, according to the HSE, “procedural issues.”)

Mesothelioma UK
20 June

Action Mesothelioma Day is on Friday 1 July. This bulletin describes some of the events and enables other events to be recorded and added to the list,
The Western Mercury
12 June
No cash to fix rotting primary school. Children at a Weston school are being taught in crumbling, rotting buildings with asbestos ceilings, ‘ancient’ electrics and gaping holes.
This is Exeter
6 June
There are 120 establishment controlled by Devon County Council which are open to the public and known to contain asbestos, and 250 schools contain asbestos, including Ladysmith Infants School, Montgomery Primary School, Redhills Community Primary School, Stoke Hill Junior School, Whipton Barton Infants and Nursery School, and Whipton Barton Junior School. A county council spokesman said: "We have a policy for the control and management of asbestos which recognises its responsibilities as a duty holder and which are of a higher standard than that required by the Health and Safety Executive." Several unions have been campaigning to raise awareness of the potential dangers of asbestos in public buildings.

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has been set up to campaign on this issue, and a spokesman said: "The figures in Exeter and Devon are not surprising. Around 5,000 people die each year from mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer – 13 people for every day of the year."

The Detail
Investigation and Analysis NI
Silent killer lurking in our schools. ,,,,, Surprisingly, the department (of Education) .. does not hold information on funding required for asbestos work for the schools’ estate. However, it did confirm that the September 2008 monitoring round bid from the department of £2.1m for asbestos work in schools was not successful. ... The department also does not hold any records on the reason or cause of teachers’ deaths or information on pupil/support staff deaths from mesothelioma.

The five education boards have released statistics and information on how they are containing asbestos within their schools following a Freedom of Information request from The Detail.

Comment Two very detailed articles which also contain the responses to Freedom of Information requests to the Department of Education and Northern ireland Education Boards.

Lynn News
6 May
LYNN’S College of West Anglia may close its main building next year to clear asbestos and carry out refurbishments.

The college plans to continue running all its courses and hopes to accommodate the majority of lectures within other buildings on its Tennyson Avenue site..... Asbestos ........... has been found in the ducts and risers of the Tower Block, Mr O’Shea said. The building is the largest of seven on the Lynn campus where around 1,500 students are taught daily
29 April
Survey reveals schools asbestos peril.... The nationwide survey of more than 600 union safety representatives in schools 'has flatly contradicted' Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that the government is meeting its legal obligations to address the issue of asbestos in schools...... NUT general secretary Christine Blower said:'Lack of consultation with safety reps and lack of training for staff are two major areas of concern. There is no room for complacency. We are ready to work with schools and local authorities in any way we can to improve standards of asbestos management in schools.'
SARAG sponsored conference A conference about the legal implications of asbestos on 20 May 2011. It is accredited by APIL Training and the agenda and booking form is at this link.
National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) guidance document in response to the JUAC survey identifying major flaws in schools asbestos awareness and management .

"The purpose of the release is to highlight asbestos issues and the difficulties that some schools are facing in the management of the material as a result of the lack of training for all staff. The NAHT will continue to work with interested parties to ensure that we represent members concerns regarding asbestos and its management in the school setting."

The Institute of Safety and Health Practitioners
18 April


JUAC’s survey found that 80 per cent of safety reps had not been trained in asbestos awareness, or did not know if they had, and 70 per cent had not been consulted on asbestos management.
........ The Asbestos in Schools group ..... called on the Department of Health to commission a full study. The group’s chair, Annette Brooke MP, commented: “Despite the dilapidated state of the school stock and an estimated £8.5bn backlog of repairs, the Government has recently confirmed that its policy for schools is to leave the asbestos in place and manage it for the remaining life of the buildings.
“If people are expected to manage the asbestos they have to be trained, and yet the results of the JUAC survey add to all the other evidence, including recent HSE enforcement action, that there is a woeful lack of training and asbestos awareness among school staff.”


Local Government Chronicle
18 Apr
Survey raises schools asbestos fear Survey by Joint Union Asbestos Campaign reveals ‘worrying shortcomings’ in way asbestos is monitored and dealt with.

(this is a paid subscription only site)

National Union of Teachers
18 April
NUT Highlights Asbestos Failure In Schools - press release A nationwide survey of more than 600 school safety representatives, conducted by the NUT and 8 other unions with members in schools, has uncovered worrying shortcomings in asbestos management. .... The Joint Union Asbestos Campaign (JUAC) survey revealed that almost 70 per cent of safety representatives were not consulted about asbestos management in their school. Consulting safety representatives on matters to do with health and safety in the workplace is a requirement under health and safety law, as well as being good management practice
Newbury Today
12 April
PARENTS of pupils at a West Berkshire school that had a recent asbestos scare will now have to wait until after Easter to discover the final test results. Last week, West Berkshire Council spokesman, Phil Spray, said the council was awaiting final results from swab tests, which he said would be provided to parents first..   And this week, he added: “As explained previously, parents will be the first to be informed about test results. A full report from an independent expert will be made available to parents as soon as possible following the Easter holidays.“ 

See BBC report on incident below dated 31 March

BBC News
5 April
Fire at a former Nottinghamshire school is being treated as arson by police. About 60 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Sherwood Hall School in Forest Town, Mansfield, on Monday. Police have said there will be no further examinations of the scene due to concerns about officers being exposed to asbestos. Mansfield District Council is in the process of clearing and securing the building's remains. ... Anyone with information about the cause of the fire has been asked to contact police. A number of residents were evacuated from the area between 1100 BST and 1600 BST and were advised to keep windows closed.
HSE and Highland Council HSE have lifted an improvement notice 22 months after Enforcement action was take on the Highland Council for putting staff and pupils at risk from asbestos in the majority of their schools. On 28th March 2011 the HSE finally lifted the improvement notice they had served on the Highland council in May 2009 for a “Failure to prepare and implement written plans that identify those parts of school premises in which asbestos is, or is liable to be present and that specify the measures necessary for adequately managing the risk.” The Council were unaware where the asbestos was in 123 of their 197 schools, and had failed to manage the asbestos.

There were two breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees at their schools and for exposing the parents and children to a risk to their health and safety. There were three further breaches under the Control of Asbestos Regulations for failures in asbestos management and a failure to train their employees.

Times Educational Supplement
1 April
..........Teachers spend many years in the same classroom, increasing their level of exposure. But a 40-year-old teacher might not live long enough to develop mesothelioma - a 10-year-old pupil will..... Above all, schools must guard against complacency. Despite being banned in any new building since 1999, asbestos remains present in over half of UK schools. It is also a material that becomes more dangerous as it deteriorates. The fact that many schools built during the asbestos boom of the 1960s and ’70s are now in disrepair makes them particularly high-risk.

Comment: There is a link on the article to an earlier article about the whole problem of asbestos in schools and the difficulty of identifying danger. It is called "Dust to Dust"

Flintshire Chronicle
31 March
CHILDREN in 58 of the county’s schools are being taught in buildings containing asbestos – the world’s biggest industrial killer. Figures shown to the Chronicle reveal all of Flintshire’s 12 high schools and 46 of the 74 primary schools have asbestos-containing materials. The poisonous material is also contained in two of the county’s five special education units. The substance can be found in toilet cisterns, floor tiles, pipe insulation and other areas of the buildings...... Wales secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), David Evans, has called on Flintshire County Council to carry out an urgent review of school buildings. ......“We have seen cases where children and teachers have been exposed to asbestos and where teachers have contracted mesothelioma – asbestos-related cancer.
BBC News Berkshire
31 March
Seventy Berkshire children in science blast asbestos scare. About 70 primary school children have been exposed to asbestos when a science lesson explosion lifted ceiling tiles in a Berkshire school hall.Pupils were evacuated from the hall at St Mary's in Kintbery, Hungerford, when a chemical test involving a hydrogen balloon caused a "sonic reaction". Dust that fell from the ceiling tested positive for a small level of asbestos. Health and safety officers kept the children's uniforms for testing and the pupils were sent home in their PE kits.The hall has been sealed off and all parents have been informed.
Independent Asbestos Training Providers
23 March
Supreme Court Judgement and Government Policy. Implications for asbestos in schools.

Comment: An editorial contribution with a detailed analysis of the developing situation and the obstacles and solutions to training occupants of schools containing asbestos in asbestos awareness and management.

Industry Today Implications of the Supreme Court ruling:  "Asbestos has long been known to be a dangerous (as well as a useful) substance, employers and occupiers turned a blind eye to those dangers long after they knew or should have known about them, and mesothelioma is a dreadful disease." Lady Hale - Justice of the Supreme Court.
Financial Times
25 March
The dire condition of large parts of the £110bn school estate has become a source of panic, according to officials at the Department for Education, which accepted a 60 per cent cut to its capital budget. It has only £16bn to last the rest of the parliament...... Officials estimate that half of England’s schools were constructed between the second world war and the mid-1970s. Many of these schools are asbestos-riddled, flat-roofed and a long way beyond their intended lifespans
20 March
Supreme Court ruling removes a potential hurdle for mesothelioma sufferers obtaining justice. The article describes the many obstacles to obtaining justice and demonstrates that far from being a "compensation culture" and a "bonanza" the qualification for claimants is death combined with proof, that is exceptionally difficult to obtain, of negligent asbestos exposure. One difficulty is that neither the HSE nor the police will investigate an asbestos death. All investigations have to be carried out by the dying person or their family and they are blocked from accessing information on asbestos management as many authorities destroy information essential to an investigation and fail to record potentially lethal, but low level, exposure.
Harrow Observer
25 March
Sarah Bowman, 41 was diagnosed with the deadly cancer, mesothelioma, in August 2009 .......

She said: "The school officially opened in November 1975, which I’ve since learned was a time when asbestos was still being used in the construction of education buildings. We regularly saw walls and partitions in classrooms broken through general day-to-day wear. You don’t realise at the time what the consequences will be in the future. Investigations following an arson attack on William Gladstone High School in 1992 led to the discovery of asbestos. Dust fibres released in the air following wall and ceiling damage are believed by Miss Bowman to have been the direct cause of her illness. ....

"When the doctor told me I cried my eyes out. I asked him if I was dying and he just put his head down. "Telling my two children was the worst part."

Financial Times
Mr Gove must also keep schools in tolerable repair. While Labour was wrong to spend so wastefully, it was right to try to fix up the asbestos-riddled and dilapidated school estate...

Book in to the FT to see the article - the comment is near the end

Sec Ed Digital
24 March
Asbestos Alert. On March 9 the Supreme Court upheld earlier judgements that Dianne Willmore had been negligently exposed to asbestos while a pupil at her secondary school in the 1970s ..... The implications of the ruling - a news article. See page 6
BBC 1 Spotlight for the South West
21 March
Interview with a mesothelioma sufferer and with Michael Lees looking at the implications of the Supreme Court judgement

The video is on facebook so you will have to book in - but then you go straight to the video

Daily Post
15 March
Councils monitor asbestos in North Wales schools. Councils are monitoring around 300 schools across North Wales where asbestos was used in construction. Regular checks are required by law for the potentially deadly material. Authorities say that where a risk existed or refurbishment work allowed, scores of schools have had the asbestos removed. Gwynedd, which has the largest number of schools, said 102 were being monitored, Conwy 56, Ynys Môn 49 and Wrexham 41. Denbighshire and Flintshire did not supply recent figures to the Daily Post.

It follows the groundbreaking legal claim for compensation by a mum of two who died of lung cancer after exposure to asbestos while a pupil

The Telegraph
11 March
(Look down the linked page)
The asbestos time bomb in our schools Like so many wise monkeys, successive education ministers have long kept their eyes, ears and mouths shut over the hazards of asbestos in schools. Now they may be forced to open them......

Ministers have long resisted the pressure even to assess the risk from asbestos in schools, insisting only last December that they had “no plans” to do so. This week’s ruling suggests that they need to make such plans – and soon.

ITV Granada, The Guardian, Education Executive, Daily Post, BBC, Solicitors Journal, ITN, Voice the Union, Liverpool Daily Post, The UKs Construction Directory, Belfast Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Liverpool Echo,
9 March
ITV : ITV Granada report landmark ruling;
The Guardian: School asbestos compensation puts councils under pressure;
Education Executive: Woman who died from being exposed to asbestos while at school wins compensation in first case of its kind;
Daily Post: Mrs Willmore, from north Wales, died in October 2009 aged 49, the day after a judge said she was entitled to £240,000 compensation;
BBC: Unanimously dismissed;
Solicitors Journal: “This judgment gives the unsuspecting victim who has worked in an environment where they have been exposed to asbestos a chance to be compensated for an illness they have developed through no fault of their own.”;
ITN: The mother-of-two contracted the cancer after apparently being exposed to asbestos dust while a pupil at Bowring School in Huyton, in the 1970s;
VOICE the Union for Education Professionals: many school staff are not aware of the dangers of asbestos; they do not know where it is and are not involved in its management;
Liverpool Daily Post: Asbestos exposure Families of ex-Huyton pupil and Ellesmere Port secretary win groundbreaking compensation claims;
The UKs Construction Directory: "This judgement should be welcomed. The Courts have upheld the right of asbestos victims to claim compensation. Sadly, this is just the latest in a long line of attempts by the insurance industry to deny compensation to people dying an agonising death."
Belfast Telegraph: The Court of Appeal ruled compensation should be paid in both cases, but Knowsley Council and Greif UK fought the rulings in the Supreme Court - where seven justices have now unanimously dismissed their appeals
Daily Mail The Supreme Court ..... warned that asbestos still poses a serious problem Comment: This paper quotes Michael Lees incorrectly
Liverpool Echo Mr Budgen said: "This ruling is a positive step towards proper acknowledgement of the risks that asbestos can pose in schools and other public buildings, even if the amount of fibres which pupils, teachers and others come into contact with is relatively small. ....
"The risks posed by the toxic fibres have been shown to be far greater in children’s lungs rather than those which are fully-developed, meaning school pupils are more susceptible to the dangers of asbestos........"
MacMillan Cancer Support
7 Mar
My mum was diagnosed wth pleural mesothelioma in Feb 2010, she went on to have VATS, decortification and chemo but sadly this awful disease took her in November 2010. She worked in schools since 1976 as a nursery nurse and in one of the nurseries she worked in she remembers them removing asbestos......... . My mum spoke to a solicitor in the early days who were not prepared to take her case on because she had not worked directly with asbestos and thay say it is more difficult to prepare a case. I personally think this is the tip of the ice-berg, what about all the childen who were in the schools that contained asbestos??

One nurse who visited my mum in the very late stages of the disease said to my dad they call it the teachers disease as more and more people who worked in education are now showing symptoms of meso.

Eastbourne Herald
3 March
Deadly asbestos lurked in teacher's cupboard,,,,, In a witness statement he gave while he was ill which was read out at the inquest, Mr Beck explained there was a store cupboard with shelves made of asbestos in the classroom where he was based for the majority if the 25 years he worked at the school. .... He used the cupboard daily, picking up and putting down books and paperwork on the asbestos shelves..... Mr Beck remembered dust but noted blackboard chalk dust could have masked some of the dust from asbestos. ....
Kent News
21 Feb
The national Health and Safety Executive insists Kent schools are doing enough to control asbestos in their buildings. An investigation in January 2009 revealed that 554 of the 599 schools in Kent contained asbestos, a potentially deadly fibrous building material, banned in modern sites. A subsequent check of 20 random schools showed none had a programme of dealing with the asbestos, whose fibres can cause a form of cancer known as mesothelioma if released and inhaled

See also BBC Inside Out programme below

BBC Inside Out
21 Feb
Is enough being done to tackle the problem of asbestos in the region's schools? BBC South East Inside Out - Monday 21st February 1930. You may wish to see this programme on the web as the issues are common to many regions. The section on asbestos starts at the 0127 point. It follows a BBC Inside Out report in 2009.
HSE Enforcement Actions HSE has published updated details of enforcement action taken against an Academy, two church schools, an independent school, a maintained school and a university over failures to manage asbestos.  An immediate Prohibition Notice was placed on a primary school in Cardiff for a disturbance to asbestos, three Improvement notices were because of breaches in the regulation for providing training, another for failing to provide information on the location and condition of asbestos and the final one for a general failure to manage their asbestos.

Comment This enforcement action shows a continued failure of schools to effectively and safely manage their asbestos.

Droitwich Standard
11 Feb
A FORMER Droitwich county councillor has launched a scathing attack on the authority after asbestos was found at his grandsons’ school for the second time in three years.

Residue of dangerous material was found on high level windows in the main hall just three years after contractors were called in to tackle a similar problem at the school. But Mr Pinfield has slammed the latest development and said he was angered that there was yet another problem which had not been picked up by the contractors and county officers when the ‘all clear’ had been given. ......

Comment (This refers to Westacre school - see Worcester News article below)

Westacre Middle school closed twice in four years because of a failure in asbestos management. The closure of Westacre Middle School highlights the disruption, anxieties, potential health risks and cost that can occur when a school contains asbestos.

“A county council spokesperson confirmed asbestos material debris was discovered in the hall, during a routine survey.”  February 2011. Serious questions have to be asked about why the asbestos debris was in the school hall? How long has it been there? What failure in asbestos management meant that this debris was not identified in previous surveys and routine checks on the condition of asbestos?

“Residue of dangerous material was found on high level windows in the main hall just three years after contractors were called in to tackle a similar problem at the school. .. “Maintaining the health and wellbeing of the pupils and staff at the school is our highest priority, which is why the decision has been made to temporarily close the hall to enable the asbestos to be removed.” Worcestershire  County Council spokesman 2011

The council’s reassurances have a hollow ring, for this is the second time this school has been closed because of an asbestos incident in four years with similar reassurances being given following the previous incident. The last time there was widespread asbestos contamination so that the children’s work, computers and equipment were destroyed and many thousands of pounds were spent on an environmental clean before the children could return, with some not returning for more than a month. In 2007 the Council made similar statements:

Director of children's services Richard Hubbard, said: "Our first priority has been the health and welfare of staff and children, weighing that up against minimising disruption to class time.” 
A Worcestershire County Council spokesman said: "Asbestos was detected in the air and the school was closed for safety reasons...

It is the sustained exposure to asbestos fibres that are dangerous, so we are confident pupils are fine and have not been put in danger." Worcestershire County Council spokesman January 2007

The County Council spokesman is wrong that only sustained exposures are dangerous, for there is no known level of exposure to asbestos below which there is no risk. He also has no grounds to make his reassurances that the pupils are fine, that is because an assessment has never been made of the increased risk to children from the exposure to asbestos, and this Government has no plans to undertake such an assessment, despite requests that they should.

Worcester News
10 Feb
A SCHOOL hall has been closed after deadly asbestos was discovered during a routine survey. The asbestos was found at Westacre Middle School, Ombersley Way, Droitwich, on Tuesday, February 1.
Dumfries and Galloway Standard
28 Jan
YOUTHS have been warned to stay away from a former secondary school in Thornhill. The old Wallace Hall Academy building has been broken into several times by youngsters recently. And a councillor fears that they are putting their lives at risk by entering the site she described as a major hazard due to the exposure of asbestos.
Kidderminster Shuttle
20 Jan
COUNCIL chiefs have sought to allay fears that pupils and residents are being endangered by asbestos in a former Kidderminster school building.

Comment This school is about to be demolished. A Worcestershire County Council spokesman explained “That the county council had not been able to carry out a detailed survey of the quantity of the asbestos until the building had been fully vacated.” It is ironic that the council are not fully aware what asbestos the school contains and that the first time they even attempt to find out is when the school is about to be demolished.

Worcestershire has 127 system built schools of which 107 are SCOLA and 2 CLASP, which contain significant quantities of asbestos. Last year HSE took enforcement action against Worcestershire County Council for failures in asbestos management and a failure to follow crucial asbestos safety guidance for their system built schools. The council were issued an improvement notice for “Failure to identify and control risk of exposure to asbestos in and around column casings in system-built schools.” http://www.hse.gov.uk/notices/notices/Notice_details.asp?SF=CN&SV=302582518

The Express
16 Jan 2011
One Teacher a Month Dying from Asbestos: ...... Exposure to asbestos in classrooms is claiming the life of a teacher a month from cancer, shocking new official figures reveal. And for every teacher at risk from the deadly building material used in almost all older schools at least 20 children are also exposed to the threat.

A report commissioned by the Environment Department warned that Britain has the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world. Most older post-war schools contain asbestos and most of it is amosite, the deadly brown form. The report added: “It is not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that the entire school population has been exposed to asbestos.”

British Safety Council
Jan 2011
“The latest edition of the British Safety Council journal has an excellent article on asbestos in schools. It is centred around Dianne Willmore’s case and the imminent Supreme Court ruling. Dianne was exposed to asbestos at her school in Knowsley as a pupil. The High Court found that Knowsley Council had negligently exposed her to asbestos and the Appeal Court upheld the ruling. Sadly Dianne died the day after the Appeal Court hearing. Whichever way the ruling goes it will have profound implications for both staff and pupils exposed to asbestos at school.  http://www.britsafe.org/home.aspx (the site is only open to those who register and the article is in the BSC Journal)

In 2009 the Chief Executive of the British Safety Council stated “it is unacceptable that the UK, in 2009, has not yet undertaken a national audit of asbestos in schools; has not comprehensively assessed the risks that teachers and pupils in each and every school face; and has not allocated appropriate resources to take urgent remedial action.”

Daily Echo
13 Jan
No money to rebuild schools' ...

Comment: “The schools in Southampton are in a dilapidated state and in need of essential repairs to make them watertight and safe. John Denham MP and a Southampton councillor, Paul Holmes, held a meeting with the Schools Minister Lord Hill who informed him that there is no money. Mr Denham said an assessment revealed tackling the “absolute minimum” level of repairs, including replacement windows, leaky roofs and asbestos-related issues, will cost £5m in the next financial year.

These schools are typical of the dreadful state of dilapidation of the nation’s school buildings. Invariably if the building is in a poor state then so is the asbestos. Southampton have a number of schools that are of a type that are known to have a potential problem with asbestos, and yet the BSF project to rebuild five of their secondary schools has been scrapped..”

This is Scunthorpe
11 January
PUPILS and staff at Riddings Infant School could have to wait until September for a new school hall to be built after its ceiling collapsed twice during bad weather. Fears over asbestos in the main hall at the Dragonby Road school have caused contractors to wait until the site is clear in the summer before deconstruction can start.
BBC News Mid Wales Welshpool High School closed to 950 pupils after flood......... Welshpool's head teacher Jim Toal said: ........ "The problem is compounded by brown asbestos which was in the kitchen ceiling, and I understand this is the worst asbestos to deal with. ........ "I have to wait for the Health and Safety Executive to give me the all clear when it's safe to reopen the kitchen."


Articles and incidents before 2011 are at this link


This is a limited selection. Major items like BBC and ITV investigations are on the main site as are items like authoritative letters to papers like the Times. If you are interested in a particular article or incident please contact us. we may have information and press coverage