SERIOUS CONCERNS OVER GOVERNMENT’S ASBESTOS IN SCHOOLS REPORT

Commenting on the Department for Education’s publication of its Asbestos Management Assurance Process (AMAP) Survey report, Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary (Acting) of NASUWT- The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The NASUWT is deeply concerned to see that in a significant number of schools, asbestos is still not being managed safely. All steps must be taken to keep staff and children safe.

“Every year, teachers and other education staff die from mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos fibres. In addition, up to 300 adults die each year due to exposure to asbestos in schools during childhood.

“We regret that the Government is simply not doing enough to protect staff and pupils.

“It is inexcusable that the Government has not made it compulsory for all schools to report on the presence and condition of asbestos.

“More than one in ten schools did not participate in the Department’s AMAP survey and 3,485 schools (17.8% of participating schools) are not compliant with the Department’s guidance.

“Asbestos is a significant problem in schools and it is deeply concerning that schools routinely are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over concerns that they are failing in their duty to safety manage asbestos.

“To protect staff and the public, the Government should also ensure that all schools are properly inspected by qualified persons to determine where asbestos is present, whether it should be removed or can be managed safely.

“There can also be no avoiding the fact of Government cuts to funding for refurbishing and building new schools since 2010 which, potentially, have contributed to pupils and teachers being further exposed to asbestos risk.

“Government and employers should be proactive in ensuring that all pupils and staff are safe in schools.”

SCHOOL’S RESPONSE TO STRIKE CAUSES UNNECESSARY DISRUPTION

On 11th July 2019, members of the NASUWT - The Teachers’ Union at Shenley Academy and Sixth Form in Birmingham took strike action in response to the continuing intransigence of the employer and school management to address their concerns regarding adverse management practices.

It has been drawn to the attention of the NASUWT that the School’s response to the strike was to bring in teachers from other schools to cover the lessons of teachers taking strike action.

Ms Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary (Acting) said:

“This appears to be yet another example of the attitude of the school management which is a root cause of the current dispute.

“Not content with approaching staff concerns in a belligerent and hostile manner, leaving teachers with no choice but to take strike action with the consequent disruption to pupils and their parents, the School is now adopting tactics in the face of strike action which is causing disruption to other schools not even involved in the dispute.

“Even more concerning is the fact that apparently the teachers who were brought into the School from other schools were not even told that they would be covering for colleagues who were on strike, causing them distress and concern.

“In the light of this and the continuing failure of the School to address our members’ concerns, we will shortly be issuing notice of escalated strike action to take place in the new term.

“The only way to resolve this dispute is for the employer to be prepared to engage in constructive and genuine dialogue as the NASUWT has been all along.

“This whole dispute has been dogged by an employer who has failed to take seriously the concerns of teachers and the discussions to resolve these. The NASUWT has been more than reasonable, putting forward constructive suggestions for resolution and has been prepared to suspend strike action to enable change to be made. However, the employer failed to implement any change.

“The NASUWT and its members deeply regret any continuing disruption to pupils and parents but in the face of the actions by the employer has no choice.”