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Asbestos in Schools

Dilapidated Schools

The schools stock in the Great Britain has been poorly maintained and is in a dilapidated state. Inevitably if the fabric of the building has not been maintained then neither has its asbestos.

A recent study by the Welsh Assembly has identified the likelihood of a one £billion repair bill for their schools. BBC Wales

A school estate survey conducted in 2009 identified that 832 of schools in Scotland were in either a poor or bad condition; Scotland on Sunday  (See attached survey from 2008)

Tim Byles, the Chief Executive of PfS, the organisation that is in charge of refurbishing schools in England, stated on 1st April 2010:  “80% of schools were beyond their shelf life…”  BBC Today

A new analysis carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) shows that fifteen billion capital investment is the absolute minimum councils need between now and 2015 to ensure every child can be taught in a classroom which is safe and structurally sound. Nearly five billion is considered essential for the next financial year, 2011-12. Local Government Association

The Minister with responsibility for school funding and pupil health and safety is Lord Hill. On 24th September he visited a number of school in Waltham Forest and was “shocked at the state of the schools.” One of the schools he visited was due to be rebuilt but the project was scrapped when BSF was cancelled. Waltham Forest council had recent enforcement action taken against it by the HSE for failures in asbestos management in their schools, with three Improvement notices being issued. The school he visited was one of them. Guardian - Minister shocked  and Guardian - Waltham Forest

The Asbestos in schools group (AiS) will be meeting the Schools Minister Lord Hill on 14th October to determine the Coalition Government’s policies towards making schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.   They will ask him:

  • ·         To identify those schools that contain the most dangerous asbestos and to prioritise them for refurbishment or replacement. 
  • ·         They will ask him to undertake an assessment of the risks to children from asbestos in schools.
  • ·         Thousands of schools will have to manage their asbestos for many years to come and will therefore have to have rigorous and effective systems of asbestos management. Presently many do not. The AiS will therefore ask him to undertake a proper assessment of the standards of asbestos management in schools, so that all can be brought up to the standards of the best.
  • ·         The last Prime Minister acknowledged that there was a serious problem of asbestos in schools and ensured that a committee was set up to improve the asbestos management in schools. Five months after the election the committee has not met as the Coalition Government has not confirmed that it will continue its vital work. They will ask him to confirm that it will continue.


Michael Lees

30th September 2010