The aim of this campaign is to ensure children are safe from asbestos exposure in school

We want parents to be told what asbestos is in their children's school and we want openness and public scrutiny of asbestos management policy and standards in every school We support the National Union of Teachers, The National Association of School Masters and Union of Women Teachers, Voice (formerly the Professional Association of Teachers), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Association of School and College Leaders, National Association of Head Teachers, HAZARDS, the Asbestos Consultants Association, Health and Safety speciailist organisations and specialist scientist and laboratories over their concerns about asbestos management in schools.
We call for the phased removal of asbestos and, during the years it will take to remove asbestos, effective management of asbestos with public scrutiny of standards

Check Asbestos Management Standards in your School

The joint teaching union and asbestos consultants association, ATaC, are assessing the standard of asbestos management in 100 schools and are also trialing a system of air sampling that will detect the hidden, deteriorating and dangerous asbestos in schools. The teaching unions have asked their members and school authorities to volunteer their schools for the project.. The assessment is free and the school’s identity will remain anonymous. The Government will be asked to extend the assessments to all schools.

Experienced asbestos consultants assess the standards of management and give guidance on any improvements that might be necessary.

If you wish to volunteer your school then details are here. An example of a typical Teaching Unions' circular to its members about the project is that of the teaching union Voice.

Latest News:
See for the latest legal and political news and also for a regularly updated list of incidents of asbestos exposure in schools


Is your child being exposed to asbestos at school? 

Read this guidance to assess what asbestos is in your school, and find out how well managed it is.

Then join our campaign to improve asbestos management in schools


Read our story. Please do not let the same happen to your family


The Situation

Most schools contain asbestos and some contain large quantities. You can now discover for yourself if your child may be exposed to asbestos at your school and how good the asbestos management is in practise.

Children are more susceptible to asbestos than adults but have less rights. As HSE has a “need to know” rather than a “right to know” policy on asbestos in schools it is normally difficult for parents to assess what the risk is to their child and this policy also prevents internal and external scrutiny of asbestos management policy and standards.

Asbestos that is in good condition and well managed will not release asbestos fibres. However if it is not in good condition or if it is disturbed, it can release fibres which can be breathed in, and that is when there is a risk. There is no known threshold below which there is no risk but it is generally thought that it takes either a short term large exposure, or cumulative low level exposures over a period of time to cause mesothelioma. Even then most people will not develop the disease, but, as it is not presently known who is susceptible and who is not, a precautionary approach should be taken.

Below is a list of common sense measures that we campaign for to make sure your child is safe. They are well researched and simple, many can be done in your school. Most could, and should, have been introduced 40 years ago when the risk was first known and before teachers died from teaching in schools with poor asbestos management systems. Nobody knows how many children have died in later life because of asbestos exposure at school as no central statistics are kept of asbestos in schools or of children's cumulative or incident exposure.

Please check your school then join our campaign for the common sense measures we list below.

Scroll down the page to see what our principles are and what Government Action we want

Ministerial action following a damning ATaC report on asbestos in schools

The Schools Minister Diana Johnson MP met the asbestos in schools group and Asbestos Training and Consultancy (ATaC) representative yesterday (24 Feb) and agreed to the setting up of a steering group to look at all aspects of risk, management and training for asbestos in schools. The first meeting of the steering group will take place next month. See www.asbestos for the detailed ATaC report. A short Press release is at this link. on that site

The Prime Minister acknowledges that there is a problem in schools that has to be addressed.
(Meeting with delegates on 13 May 2009 in Westminster)

A delegation representing six Teacher Unions presented a paper to the Prime Minister voicing their concerns about the problem of asbestos in schools. The delegates were the General Secretaries of ATL and the NASUWT and the Assistant Secretary of the NUT. In full support and agreement on the statement were the teaching unions Voice, ASCL and NAHTA. Specialist scientists, solicitors, Health and Safety specialist organisations and asbestos support groups are also in full support and agreed the statement. The delegation was led by Paul Rowen MP (Lib Dem Shadow spokesman W&P). Michael Lees was also a delegate. The Union GMB announced it would join the campaign shortly afterwards. The full list is here

The Prime Minister acknowledged that there is a problem and that it would be addressed, and instructed that a further meeting should take place in the near future with the Schools Minister to decide the way forward.

The four key points in the paper are:

  1. A comprehensive audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in schools, and the standards of management.

  2. An assessment to be made of the risk to the occupants, with particular emphasis on children.

  3. The asbestos in schools campaign to be reinstated.

  4. All the asbestos is to be identified and removed in a phased programme when schools are refurbished under BSF and PCP.

The complete text presented to the Prime Minister is at this link.

Further links::


  1. There should be a policy of Openness about asbestos in schools.
  2. Parents and teachers should have a “right to know” what asbestos is present in their, and their children's, school.
  3. All schools by law should be required to carry out a thorough asbestos survey. It should include air tests. (See Testing and Inspections below)
  4. Children should have the same rights as adults when in an asbestos environment. These rights would normally be exercised through parents, guardians and teachers.
  5. Schools should be treated as a special place. Children's special vulnerability to asbestos should be recognised in asbestos management procedures.
  6. There should be a national audit of the extent and condition of asbestos in schools, the data should be centrally collated and open to public scrutiny.
  7. The details of asbestos incidents in schools should be centrally collated and open to public and internal scrutiny, so that the effectiveness of HSE and DCSF and individual local authorities’ asbestos management policies can be assessed.
  8. There should be an open, scientific assessment and political and public agreement on the acceptable risk to children in schools from cumulative asbestos exposure.
  9. Government policy should be the phased removal of all asbestos from schools. Priority being given to those schools with asbestos in the worst condition
If you are prepared to campaign on these measures please write to your MP, or the Minister for families, or the Childrens' Commissioner . we have some advice which may help.


If you want updates on the campaign, on news items and press releases, click here.

If you have been told that air tests have been done and all is "safe" check whether the tests have been disturbance tests to simulate normal activity in a school. Often the tests are done in still air when the fibres have settled. The tests then show clear. The fibres rise again when children start banging doors, running on floors or accidentally knocking walls. Hidden asbestos in wall cavities and ceilings can release fibres that blow out round skirting boards, through gaps in ceiling tiles, walls and column cladding.

Check that all gaps have been sealed in accordance with the urgent safety guidance - see checking asbestos management for details.



  1. Standards and a protocol for air sampling in schools should be set. These should include:
    • A protocol for tests following an asbestos incident to determine past exposure of staff and pupils and a protocol for determining whether a room is safe for reoccupation after an asbestos incident.
    • A protocol for determining asbestos fibre levels from hidden asbestos materials in a school.
  2. There should be regular air tests to determine asbestos fibre levels from hidden asbestos. These should be carried out under controlled conditions with disturbance that is representative of everyday school activity such as doors being slammed, walls hit and windows banged.
  3. The cumulative risk to children of background and peak exposures during their twelve years at school should be assessed based on such tests.
  4. There should be a central register of all types and Marks of "System" built schools and temporary classrooms. The register should include the specified location of asbestos and the possible locations of asbestos.


  • Asbestos guidance should be written specifically for schools that gives:
    • Practical advice on asbestos management.
    • Measures to be taken following an asbestos incident in a school.
  • Standards of asbestos training of key people in schools should be set.
  • Training courses should be attended by governors, headteachers, asbestos managers, caretakers and maintenance staff.
  • All staff should have training about the dangers, locations and precautions to be taken with asbestos.

If you wish to contact me with referenced facts about asbestos in schools - or in your school - I will be delighted to hear from you - referenced photographs are very useful of damaged walls, ceilings etc where there is asbestos suspected. I will respect any request for confidentiality.

We will want to use information on a suspected incident - but will be keen not to overdramatise it. We normally ask local papers and individuals to ask questions that we suggest and then decide themselves whether the answers are satisfactory. If all is well we are delighted!

We also need referenced information for persuading authority to change their policy to one of open, effective asbestos management.


If you want to approach your MP then we describe how to do so here. It is best if you use your own words, rather than mine - but here are some ideas on how to contact him or her.


  1. There should be a Department for Children, Schools and the Family post specifically to oversee all matters to do with asbestos in schools. The officer should have the necessary expertise.
  2. An Asbestos in Schools campaign should be reinstated to improve the management of asbestos in schools. The forum should comprise experts from a wide range of specialisations, including the DCFS, HSE, Children's Commissioner, local authorities, occupational hygienists, parents and teachers’ representatives, ATAC and ARCA. They should have executive powers to assess the scale of the problem and to implement measures. They should advise the Government.
  3. Government policy should be the phased removal of all asbestos from schools. As part of that all asbestos should be removed from schools when they are refurbished under Government initiatives including BSF, PCF, PFI and PPP.
  4. A Parliamentary Select committee should be convened to take evidence, discuss and report to the Government on the problem of asbestos in schools.
  5. There should be a Parliamentary debate on the problem of asbestos in schools.


About us

Checking asbestos management

Teachers' Unions press releases

Contacting MPs Asbestos exposure in Schools
Campaign objectives

Campaign for change and contacts

Release of asbestos Fibres in System Built schools Asbestos Recommendations for System Built Schools Asbestos Policy Improvements

This campaign is organised by Richard Lees. It is based on research by Michael Lees. Although Michael Lees totally agrees with the objecctives and with the campaign, the campaign is not run by him. Statements made by the campaign, whether on this web site or elsewhere, should not be quoted as being from Michael Lees, or, necessarily approved by him.

Michael Lees authoritative research can be seen at and that is approved by him, closely referenced and can be quoted,