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To: The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education

Protect our children and teachers from asbestos exposure at school

Parents have been kept in the dark about asbestos risks for too long. We want every school in the UK to have to produce an annual report about the type and condition of any asbestos on the premises and share this with all parents and staff. Every child's potential exposure to asbestos at school must be recorded and shared with parents. This has been happening in the USA for the last 30 years.
The Government must introduce and implement a policy for the phased removal of all asbestos from schools to be completed by 2028, starting with the most dangerous asbestos. MP's recommended this in 2012 but no action has been taken.

Why is this important?

My Mum died on Sunday 26th June 2016 from mesothelioma, a cancer that comes from exposure to asbestos. It can lie dormant for a long time, meaning that victims are diagnosed with the illness 15 to 60 years after their exposure. Mum believes she was exposed to asbestos in the schools she taught in. Before she died I promised her that I will do my best to make sure no-one else has to suffer like she has.

The facts about asbestos in schools
• 86% of UK schools have asbestos in them, putting over 7 million pupils at risk. A survey in 2015 found that 44% of teachers have not been told if their school contains asbestos. This lack of awareness puts them and their pupils at risk of exposure.
• More than 224 school teachers in England have died of mesothelioma between 2003 and 2012. There is a similar pattern for school support and maintenance staff. Last year 22 teachers died, meaning the UK has the highest death rate in the world. Experts predict that the number of school related deaths in the UK will continue to rise.
• Children are particularly vulnerable to developing mesothelioma. A five year old child that is exposed is five times more likely to contract mesothelioma than someone exposed to asbestos in their 30s. It is reported that between 200 and 300 people die each year from exposure to asbestos as school children.

All of these deaths are completely preventable. We've known the dangers since the 1960s with legislation controlling its use since the mid-1980’s. 2 million asbestos fibres can fit on a pin head but mesothelioma can develop from ingesting only one or two fibres. There are no safe levels of exposure to asbestos.

Mum taught over 800 children and was a wonderful teacher and very committed to her work. Some of her ex-pupils recently wrote to her saying ‘you were the best reception teacher we could ever have wished for and you gave us the best grounding in education that anyone could ever have’. I’ve seen first hand the pain and suffering that mesothelioma causes.

I’ve lost my darling Mum to this terrible disease, as a parent I need to be sure that my school age daughter is not being put at risk simply by going to school. We can't let more of our children and teachers die from this entirely preventable disease. Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education must prioritise the removal of all asbestos from all our schools.

How it will be delivered

My family will deliver this petition in person to the Minister of Education.




2023-09-04 09:54:06 +0100

The former head civil servant at the DFE has highlighted their plans to repair/ rebuild 300-400 schools a year. These were targeted especially at CLASP schools (known to contain significant amounts of asbestos and RAAC). The funds for this programme were cut to only allow 50 schools a year by the current Prime Minister (who was Chancellor at the time). At this rate of action it will take over 350 remove all asbestos in schools.

2023-09-04 09:54:01 +0100

In the last week there has been extensive coverage of the issue of RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) schools. Many schools are facing emergency closures due to concerns of building collapse. The grim reality is that the majority of RAAC schools were built at the same time as asbestos use was highest. DFE statements that asbestos in schools is safe 'as long as its in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed' as increasingly hollow when we hear widespread reports of 'crumbling concrete'.

2019-12-09 17:40:41 +0000

This new website, crowdfunded by people who support this petition, enables every parent and member of school staff to search to see if their school contains asbestos. Everyone has a right to know but the Department for Education is resisting the release of this information. Please check out the site and share it with others,

2019-12-09 17:38:18 +0000

This weekend the Guardian published new evidence of the poor state of school buildings. Their freedom of information requests have identified that more than 1 in 10 schools don’t have the (legally required) Asbestos Management Plan on site. Read more here,

2019-11-25 22:08:57 +0000

New research released today has found that children in England are exposed to 10 times more asbestos than is permitted in other parts of Europe. Our children deserve better.

2019-07-26 11:14:24 +0100

There's been lots of stories about asbestos in local schools in recent weeks. But all of these stories carry partial, or out of date information. The Department for Education now has the most comprehensive database showing which schools contain asbestos across England. They are refusing to release this information. They justify this by saying if they release information about individual schools these schools might chose not complete the survey in future years. This is nonsense - for starters it is within the Department for Educations powers to ensure that this survey is mandatory!

It's absolutely vital that we have transparency about asbestos in schools. The DFE must release the full list of schools that contain asbestos.

2019-07-26 11:13:35 +0100

Asbestos in schools in Wiltshire (list only shows schools run by the Local Authority (so not free schools and Academy's)

2019-07-26 11:13:08 +0100

Asbestos in schools in Bolton (list only shows schools run by the Local Authority (so not free schools and Academy's)

2019-07-26 11:12:38 +0100

Asbestos in schools in Leeds (list only shows schools run by the Local Authority (so not free schools and Academy's)

2019-07-26 11:12:09 +0100

Asbestos in schools in Peterborough (list only shows schools run by the Local Authority (so not free schools and Academy's)

2019-07-26 11:11:39 +0100

Asbestos in schools in Blackpool (list only shows schools run by the Local Authority (so not free schools and Academy's)

2019-07-26 11:11:08 +0100

Asbestos in schools in Surrey and Hampshire (list only shows schools run by the Local Authority (so not free schools and Academy's)

2019-07-05 20:27:27 +0100

I worked with a journalist at the Guardian to show how unsafe asbestos in our schools really is. My Freedom of information request revealed that the Department for Education has referred almost 700 school to the Health and Safety Executive due to unsafe asbestos management. The true figure could be higher as 100’s of schools didn’t respond to the DFE’s survey

2019-06-18 22:26:45 +0100

I'm sad and angry to read about another teacher who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. He was a teacher in Southampton. The research shows that for every teacher affected another 8 or 9 students could also be affected. It's an avoidable tragedy that will continue to happen until we have asbestos safely removed from all our schools.

2019-06-14 11:08:21 +0100

Sarah Stoddart was a committed primary school teacher for many years. She died from mesothelioma in 2017.
Please watch and share Sarahs video.

2019-06-13 16:11:08 +0100

Parents in Plymouth had to raise concerns about their children being exposed to asbestos while at school. Issues were raised as far back as October 2017 but it is only now that they have received reassurances. It's vital that we have transparency and accountability about asbestos in our schools.

2019-06-12 17:25:14 +0100

100,000 signatures reached

2019-05-07 07:37:23 +0100

The Mirror has recently covered the issue of asbestos in schools highlighting recent data that shows over 200 teachers have died from mesothelioma in the last 10 years.

2019-03-06 08:22:33 +0000

Jim Cunningham MP recently asked the Department for Education ‘the number of UK schools that undertook (a) the partial removal of asbestos and (b) the total removal of asbestos from school buildings in each year since 2010’. It’s really not acceptable that the Department hasn’t kept track of this. You can see the full response here

2019-03-06 08:17:17 +0000

On Monday (4th March) MP’s responded to a petition about the school funding crisis. Asbestos was briefly mentioned during the debate. Sadly in responding to the debate the Department for Education didn’t make any commitments on asbestos. You can see the Mp’s contributions below.

Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury, ‘I had a school that was actually dangerous—there was asbestos in it and the windows were very dangerous and almost literally falling out’.

James Frith Labour, Bury North, ‘Schools are riddled with asbestos and face a £100 million shortfall’.

2019-03-02 09:43:27 +0000

On Tuesday 26th February MP’s in Westminster debates the challenges school face due to school funding cuts. This campaign was mentioned as MP’s highlighted the risks of asbestos in schools and challenged the Department for Education (DFE) on their approach to this serious issue. Meg Hillier asked the DFE to implement an earmarked fund for schools to use for asbestos removal. She also demand that the department ‘name and shame’ those school that have not responded to the first national asbestos in schools survey that closed in February 2019. It’s great news that the department is getting traction. We’ll keep up the pressure and let you know how they respond.

2019-03-01 22:18:21 +0000

Concerns about asbestos in Birmingham schools
As ever the Local Authority are quick to reassure parents that there are no issues. I felt the information that they provided to my FOI in 2016 was quite patchy with several schools using generic documents and not co ducting regular reviews of the asbestos in place. Hopefully things have improved since then. They also released the the list of names of schools that they refused to provide to the BBC’s more recent request. It’s here

2019-03-01 22:17:27 +0000

In March 2018 the Department for Education launched the first national survey to gather data on how asbestos in our schools is being managed. It was due to close 3 months later. It’s been extended three times and now, eleven months later there are still Sig ificant numbers of schools that haven’t provided the data. How can they expect us to believe that asbestos in schools is safely managed without the paperwork to back this up?
This report gives more detail

2018-04-21 17:21:33 +0100

Two more press stories on discoveries of asbestos in schools that could be harmful to children and teachers. As the articles show, an asbestos discovery can have a significant impact on the school. This is why schools need the Department for Education to commit to funding a strategy of phased removal of asbestos from schools. These examples are from Plymouth and Oxfordshire but the problem of asbestos in schools is across England and Wales.

2018-04-13 17:00:25 +0100

This weekend there has been coverage of asbestos disturbed in a primary school in Lancaster. The response from the local authority is that this is 'low level' but there is no 'safe level' of asbestos exposure and a 5 year old is five times more at risk of developing incurable mesothelioma as a 30 year old.

2018-04-12 07:22:46 +0100

Sarah Stoddart was a committed primary school teacher for many years. Saldy she was exposed to asbestos when teaching and died from mesothelioma in 2017.
Before she died Sarah made this powerful film explaining the dangers of asbestos in schools. Please share this video.

2018-01-24 20:14:19 +0000

50,000 signatures reached

2018-01-24 09:46:18 +0000

20,000 signatures reached

2017-09-15 11:08:51 +0100

This new resource has been launched for parents, teachers, school governors and other school staff. It is a short informative guide providing more information about asbestos in schools and offering guidance about what schools need to do to keep their pupils and staff safe. Please use the resource (it's free) and share with your local schools and/or local council. Awareness and transparency about asbestos is the only way to keep safe from this deadly disease.

2017-03-14 12:26:38 +0000

The government recently released their review on the management of asbestos in schools. It found significant numbers of schools were not safely managing asbestos

My own Freedom of Information requests have identified significant numbers of disturbances in schools in the last five years.

And MP's have recently heard evidence from a Head Teacher who had to 'hose-down' pupils at his school on two or three occasions after they were exposed to asbestos.

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos fibres cause mesothelioma, an incurable cancer. The government policy of leaving asbestos in place is gambling with our children's futures.

2016-12-13 09:34:39 +0000

This link will take you to my interview on BBC Radio 4's Womens Hour where I was talking about my Mum and asbestos in schools. My interview is the first one

2016-12-09 15:56:37 +0000

10,000 signatures reached

2016-12-02 07:11:12 +0000

Today the BBC are covering the campaign and helping us to raise awareness with parents and teachers about the dangers of asbestos in schools. If you want to know if asbestos is in your school please ask your teacher, head teacher or school governors. Ask them if there is asbestos, where it is, how it's being managed and when it will be removed. You can also check the responses to my Freedom of Information. They can tell you names of schools, how many times asbestos has been released in schools and how many school staff are pursuing a claim for exposure to asbestos.
Go here and then search for your local area,
Unfortunately the lists often don't include Academy's or Free Schools.

2016-10-04 20:30:22 +0100

The BBC in Yorkshire want to highlight the issue of asbestos in schools. This will be a great opportunity to increase parents and teachers awareness of the dangers of asbestos in schools. They are keen to speak to anyone in Yorkshire who has been affected by asbestos in schools, either as a teacher, school employee or student. If you or your family has been affected and would be willing to speak to the BBC reporter please contact me through the link on the 38 degrees page. Thank you so much for your support.

2016-07-31 23:02:41 +0100

On Tuesday 26th July we held my Mums funeral, to celebrate her life with her family and friends. In the weeks before she died my lovely mother was still worrying about all the other teachers and children who are being unknowingly exposed to asbestos in their schools.

Please watch and share this film to help raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos in schools and encourage people to sign the petition.

Through-out her life Mum cared for so many children. Please help us to make it her legacy to get asbestos out of schools and prevent others suffering like she did.

2016-07-15 11:41:45 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2016-07-14 23:47:58 +0100

Almost 4 weeks after her death Mums story has been covered by Ros Wynne-Jones in the Daily Mirror. You can read the story here, If you have been affected by asbestos please contact Ros on Twitter @realbritainros or the Dailly Mirror letters page by email at [email protected] This will help to increase awareness of the scale of this problem and create pressure for change.

Nicky Morgan has now been sacked after 2 years as Secretary of State for Education. She is gone but tomorrow 7 million children will sit in schools that contain asbestos. Justine Greening the new Secretary of State for Education must make the removal of asbestos in schools a top priority. Please help to increase the pressure for change by sharing this petition with friends and family.

2016-07-01 12:54:02 +0100

On Sunday 26th June my darling Mum died from mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer that comes from exposure to asbestos. Mum was unknowingly exposed to asbestos as a teacher. Asbestos is a hidden killer that is in 86% of UK schools.There are no safe levels of exposure to asbestos for pupils or teachers.

Today 7 million children are sitting in schools that contain asbestos. Parents and teachers are completely in the dark about this danger. The UK has the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world. There’s no cure, and more than 90% of people are dead within three years of diagnosis.

Mum didn't want anyone else to suffer like she did. Please help us to achieve this. Please share the petition widely. This hidden killer can affect anyone. Children and teachers can only be safe once asbestos is out of our schools. The more signatures we have the greater our impact can be.

2016-06-13 20:29:07 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2016-06-12 21:21:40 +0100

500 signatures reached

2016-06-12 08:36:30 +0100

100 signatures reached

2016-06-11 22:45:22 +0100

50 signatures reached

2016-06-11 18:58:41 +0100

25 signatures reached

2016-06-11 16:17:42 +0100

10 signatures reached