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Asbestos exposure 'remains a risk within UK schools'

19/04/2017 Joanna

British schools need to be doing more to ensure that any health risks posed by asbestos are being proactively managed.

This is according to a new survey from the National Union of Teachers, which has indicated that although 86 per cent of British schools do contain some amount of asbestos, nearly half of teachers questioned by the union had been told whether the issue affected their school or not.

Of the 46 per cent of respondents who had been told that their school did contain the toxic substance, half had not been told where the asbestos was located, while nearly 75 per cent said it was in accessible locations, such as floors, ceilings and window frames, where it could be disturbed by children.

Meanwhile, three-quarters said staff had not been provided with asbestos awareness training, while only two per cent said parents had been given information about the presence of asbestos in the school. Additionally, 85 per cent had not been shown their school's asbestos management plan.

The report also showed that less than five per cent of respondents had been told that their school did not contain asbestos, meaning the majority of teachers either knew that asbestos was present in their school, or had not been told either way.

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

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

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