Asbestos in our educational buildings

Key Facts

IT's a big problem

It is estimated that around 83 per cent of schools contain asbestos, all of it old and much of it deteriorating. Unless a school or college was built after 1999, it is extremely likely that it contains asbestos.

found in many places

It is not just found around pipes and boilers. It is common in columns and wall and ceiling tiles in classrooms and gives off very small, fine fibres which can be breathed in and cause disease many years later.


All schools and colleges (except where it is certain there is no asbestos) should have an asbestos register, which is displayed in a prominent position and accessible to all staff. If the survey is not available, or you are unsure how to interpret it, ask the duty holder/head teacher specifically where asbestos in located in your school/college.

Linked to Cancer

Since 1980 over 400 teachers have died from mesothelioma, a cancer linked exclusively to asbestos exposure. Some children may go on to develop mesothelioma as adults, as a result of exposure at school/college.

Children are more vulnerable

The Department of Health’s Committee on Carcinogenicity concluded in June 2013 (view the PDF)  that children are more vulnerable to the effects of asbestos because they have longer to live in which to develop mesothelioma.

It's got to go

JUAC policy is that all asbestos should be removed from all schools and colleges. We campaign for its complete removal but recognise that staff and pupils need to be protected now, through better management, pending removal.

Double standards

It was deemed necessary to remove asbestos from Royal households, the Houses of Parliament and the DfE yet the occupants of schools and colleges are told by Government that generally it is safer to leave it in place.

Long and short term

Asbestos is not always well-managed in all educational buildings so don’t assume that this is necessarily the case in any school or college. Exposure incidents occur regularly, sometimes leading to prosecutions, but we are also concerned about long term, low level exposure which may not be noticed.

No government commitment to phased removal

Westminster/Welsh Government policy reflects the HSE position that wherever possible asbestos containing materials should be left in situ, managed, and in some cases encapsulated.  Neither the Westminster nor the Welsh Government has a policy of phased removal.

Being safe

What can we do?

You can help ensure that schools and colleges are safe for children and staff. The most important thing – ask questions.  A culture of openness is essential.


Does the building contain asbestos?


If so, where is it located?

It is a legal requirement for duty holders to determine the location of any asbestos in a building for which they are responsible. Ask for details to be displayed prominently.


How is it being managed?

Ask to see a copy of the asbestos management plan.  Again, it is a legal requirement for duty holders to prepare a plan setting out how risks will be managed.

Asbestos Petition

Please sign and share this petition in the name of Lucie Stephens whose mother, a retired teacher, died of mesothelioma in 2016, to help achieve the JUAC aims…