GMB Experts in the World of Work
Join GMB today
 Follow @GMB_union

Asbestos in Schools

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

GMB welcome education select committee call for evidence on Asbestos in schools as 75% of buildings give rise to risk for staff and children.

As more schools leave local authorities to become academies or free schools there is a very real danger that the little knowledge over asbestos within school buildings will be lost says GMB

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.

The call was made yesterday 26th February. The Education Select Committee will hear evidence on asbestos in schools on Wednesday 13th March at 9.30 am.

GMB has fed in evidence as part of the joint union asbestos committee (JUAC) submission as the GMB represents an increasing number of schools support staff who may be negligently exposed to the deadly asbestos fibres in schools.

Over 75% of state schools contain asbestos much of it in a dangerous condition.

GMB is concerned that while the Department for Education (DfE) is currently carrying out an audit on the condition of schools in a bid to establish refurbishment priorities asbestos is specifically excluded from this audit.

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".

GMB has major concerns with the manner in which asbestos is managed in schools as it is obvious that that it is often unclear who the duty holder with legal responsibilities is. As more schools leave the control of local authorities to become academies or free schools there is a very real danger that the little knowledge over asbestos within school buildings will be lost.

This fear is echoed today by Ofsted Chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw who said today – "I want school governors to provide a more professional leadership". He then likened the worst governors to jurors who are not capable of understanding their responsibilities in a court case.

Unfortunately GMB fears that many governors do not understand their responsibilities with regard to managing asbestos in schools and the DfE should do more to address this situation.


Contact John McClean 07710 631 329 or Dan Shears 07918 767 781 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to Editors

1 Over 75% of state schools contain asbestos and over 2,500 schools have converted to academy status since 2010.

2 GMB represents over 100,000 school support staff including teaching assistants, caretakers, cleaners, cooks, technical staff, nurses and secretaries.

3 All-Party Parliamentary Group report in February 2012 called for six action points including the phased removal of asbestos with that in the worst condition being prioritised for removal

4 There is no mandatory training on managing asbestos in schools from the DfE.

Share this page