Around one in five schools across England, according to a new report released recently by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), is putting the lives of students and teachers at risk of asbestos exposure.
19% of schools have not been safely managing the asbestos risks with more than 100 of the schools so serious that the Department for Education (DfE) had to step in to rectify the management of the situation.
Teachers have been issues with new advice on managing asbestos in schools; new guidance. This includes details such as reminding teachers not to put drawing pins into walls as this can release asbestos fibres where the material is present, which is great in principle, but how practical is this?
The real problem with asbestos in schools isn’t actually the removal of the products and materials it has been found in, it is the schedule of the schools themselves. We are busiest in school asbestos removal during the holidays, as this only gives companies like Safeline environmental an incredibly small window opportunity to actually remove the asbestos.
If the schools themselves were to form themselves into partnership groups they could actually support each other with managing the students so that school buildings could be made safe from asbestos during term time. We would like to see entire buildings handed over to specialist companies so the entire building could be tented. Asbestos in schools, and its removal, is a massive logistical challenge, but the schools themselves need support to release the building stock in term time to speed up this process.