Letter from Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson to Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP, Department for Education (DfE)
Department for Education’s Review of Asbestos Management in Schools
As you are no doubt aware, the findings of the Government’s review of asbestos in schools are long overdue. During recent months, we were told by the Department and Minsters that the report would be published “shortly” or “early in 2015”, but I am now deeply concerned that the findings will not be published before the pre-election ‘purdah’ period begins. Failure to publish would represent an admission by the Government that this is an issue that is too big to tackle.
This morning, BBC Breakfast ran a sobering report on asbestos in our schools, which included an interview with Mr Michael Lees, of Asbestos in Schools, who carried out the study.
As the statement points out, there has been more than ample time for the Government to consider its response and set out the steps it considers necessary to address the barriers to safe and effective management of asbestos in schools.
During the nine month period since the Review should have been published, in June 2014, some staff and children will have been needlessly exposed to asbestos fibres, putting them at risk of the development of asbestos-related disease in adult life.
In 2012, 22 teachers died of mesothelioma. We cannot be sure how many school cooks, cleaners and caretakers have died, since their deaths are not classified according to their employment.
I urge you to publish the findings of the Review without further delay.
I would be happy to discuss this with you, as would all my JUAC colleagues.
Deborah Lawson, General Secretary