School leaders don’t have to inform parents that they have asbestos on their premises. Their duty is to manage the asbestos in their building.
If you’re worried you can ask the headteacher or the school governors for more information. You can also ask to see the school’s policy for informing parents if asbestos is damaged or disturbed.
If there’s asbestos in my child’s school, what can I do about it?
If there’s asbestos in your child’s school, there should be an asbestos management plan. You can ask to see this plan at any time, to familiarise yourself with the location of asbestos in the building and to reassure yourself that it’s being managed properly.
If you have any concerns about the management of asbestos, you can raise them with the person responsible for health and safety on the premises.
If you believe that asbestos is being disturbed in your child’s school you can contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for further advice on 0300 003 1647 or via the HSE website.
Who’s responsible for managing asbestos at my child’s school?
The responsible person in a school depends on the type of school.
- For community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, it’s the local authority.
- For academies and free schools, it will be the Academy Trust and for voluntary-aided and foundation schools, it will be the school governors.
- For independent schools, it may be the proprietor, governors, or trustees.
- In situations where budgets for building management are delegated to schools by the local authority, the duty to manage asbestos will be shared between the school and the local authority.
What’s the risk from asbestos?
If asbestos is not disturbed, the risk is minimal, but it’s never zero. Its presence alone shouldn’t cause concern, provided it’s managed properly. Problems arise as buildings age and asbestos starts to deteriorate. With repair budgets stretched it’s becoming more of an issue.
If asbestos is disturbed it releases fibres into the air, which can then be inhaled by people using the space. Inhaling asbestos fibres leads to an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related condition later in life.
I’m worried that my child’s been exposed to asbestos during building work at school / there’s been a specific incident of damage to their classroom or a room they use. What can I do?
If you believe your child has been exposed to asbestos, you should make a record of that exposure. You can ask their GP to record the date and details of possible exposure to asbestos in their records. You should also keep a copy of any letters/documents relating to their exposure.
Is there anything else I can do?
Our charity partner Mesothelioma UK is calling time on asbestos with it’s Don’t Let The Dust Settle campaign. They want a central register of asbestos, including where it is and what condition it’s in.
They’re also calling for a timeframe to be set for the safe removal of asbestos, prioritising high risk settings such as schools and hospitals.
You may also wish to contact your local Asbestos Victim Support Group for further advice. It’s very likely they will have come across similar issues before. You can find details of your local support group at www.asbestosforum.org.uk.
If you, or someone close to you has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, our team are on hand to offer help and advice. More information can be found on our dedicated asbestos-related disease pages.