Schools: Asbestos

Department for Education written question – answered on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to protect children and teachers from the dangers of asbestos, in the light of the findings of the Education Funding Agency in their reports published in February, and of the information released in the Freedom of Information request 201607236, of August 2016, that 319 teachers have died of mesothelioma since 1980, published by the National Union of Teachers.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department takes the issue of asbestos in schools very seriously. The findings from the asbestos in schools data collection show that the vast majority of schools that responded appear to be managing asbestos well and are fully compliant with legislation and guidance. For those that did not have fully documented plans, processes and procedures in place, the department provided immediate advice on the actions needed to address these issues and sought assurances of compliance from responsible bodies and schools.

We have also recently published updated guidance which provides information on how those legally responsible for asbestos management in schools - local authorities, schools and trusts - should manage asbestos. This includes new supplementary guidance to help duty holders understand where asbestos is commonly found, so that they can work with qualified professionals to assess and manage the risks. We also intend to further enhance scrutiny on duty holders for managing asbestos in their schools, by developing an assurance process for all duty holders to report on the management of asbestos across their respective education estates.

Alongside this, we continue to provide significant funding to schools to help those legally responsible for maintenance to keep their school buildings in a good state of repair. We are investing £10billion to maintain and improve the condition of the schools estate by 2021, and schools and responsible bodies are able to use the funding that is available to them to remove asbestos where that is appropriate.

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