Asbestos claims hit £10m over English schools

The BBC is reporting that councils in England have paid out at least £10m in compensation to people who developed illnesses because of asbestos in school buildings.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, BBC Yorkshire has obtained figures from 135 councils in England, that show there are at least 12,600 council-run schools where asbestos is known to be present.

The number of actual schools that contain asbestos is likely to be higher as many have become academies and so are not included in the figures.

It is widely accepted that any school building built before the year 2000 is likely to contain some form of asbestos.

In the last five years local authorities have also recorded 99 instances of significant asbestos disturbances, where people have been put in danger because of potential exposure to the substance.

Speaking to the BBC last month Education Secretary Justine Greening said a recent government review had provided schools with the latest advice in how to keep pupils and staff safe.

“In the overwhelming number of cases we do remove asbestos from schools, but in some cases our experts are telling us its better to leave the material in place. What our review had done though is given us a clear blueprint for how we tackle this issue going forward and that is what we are focussed on doing,” Ms Greening said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education added: “The health and safety of children and staff in our schools is vital – that’s why we are investing £23bn in school buildings by 2021. This will help ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time.”

More at: Asbestos claims hit £10m over English schools

What do you think should be done about asbestos in schools? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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