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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.