Call for action as figures reveal eight in 10 Sheffield schools contain deadly asbestos

Staff and pupils at Mossbrook School in Norton avoid pinning posters and displays to the walls in case its high levels of asbestos are disturbed.
Staff and pupils at Mossbrook School in Norton avoid pinning posters and displays to the walls in case its high levels of asbestos are disturbed.
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Campaigners and politicians have called for drastic action amid revelations that some eight out of ten schools in Sheffield contain asbestos.

Figures obtained through The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign revealed 86 per cent of primaries and 35 per cent of the city’s secondary schools contain the potentially deadly dust.

Lydgate Infant School, Lydgate Lane. Picture: Andrew Roe

Lydgate Infant School, Lydgate Lane. Picture: Andrew Roe

The problem is so bad in one Sheffield school that pupils and teachers cannot put drawing pins in the walls for fear of disturbing asbestos.

Out of 168 schools in Sheffield, some 135 contain asbestos – which equates to 80 per cent.

Research carried out by London law firm Stephensons revealed just under 68,000 Sheffield youngsters are going to school in buildings which contain the fibres - although there is no risk if the material is left undisturbed.

At special educational needs school Mossbrook Primary in Norton, pupils and staff avoid pinning posters and displays to the walls in case its high levels of asbestos are disturbed.

Halfway Junior School. Picture: Andrew Roe

Halfway Junior School. Picture: Andrew Roe

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh has called on the Government to do more so that state schools like Mossbrook can access cash to remove asbestos.

At present, the funding is only available to academies and free schools.

She said: “I started raising this issue as soon as I was elected, following grave concerns that Mossbrook, a special educational needs school in my constituency, cannot put drawing pins in its walls for fear of disturbing asbestos.

“It cannot access the condition improvement fund because it is not an academy.

Mossbrook School, Bochum Parkway.

Mossbrook School, Bochum Parkway.

“Schools like Mossbrook desperately need funding from the Government to bring them up-to-date, to make them safe places for pupils to study and safe places for teachers and teaching staff to work.”

Insulation material asbestos was widely used in the building industry in the 1960s and 70s.

It was banned in the UK in 1999, after a link was established to a number of fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis when the material is inhaled over a prolonged period of time.

Mossbrook Primary School was built in 1969 and retains an old, second hand boiler and old pipework.

Notre Dame High School, Fulwood Road.

Notre Dame High School, Fulwood Road.

Headteacher Dean Linkhorn said: “Schools now have to operate their own individual budgets and issues like dealing with asbestos puts an enormous strain on such limited resources.

“Although there is not an issue at our school or any danger to children, it is only a matter of time before we have to tackle the removal of the asbestos we have and this is something we can ill afford.

“That is why I welcome Louise putting pressure on the Government to free up much-needed resources to deal with this issue in Sheffield and nationally.

“Keeping children and staff safe is the biggest responsibility that comes with my job and I make sure that it is the highest priority within school.”

John McClean is the national health and safety officer at the GMB union, which is heading up a campaign to raise awareness of asbestos in schools.

He said: “What I would say to parents who may be concerned is: Check the management plan at the school.

Handsworth Grange, Handsworth Grange Road.

Handsworth Grange, Handsworth Grange Road.

“Every school should have plans detailing where the asbestos is and how much of a risk is posed.”

The GMB is calling on local authorities to be more open in how asbestos is dealt with.

Mr McClean said: “Every council in the country will tell you that they manage it fine and it is not a problem.

“But what we’re saying is: ‘Tell us how you do that.’

“It’s all about transparency and educating people on the issue.”

On the funding differentiation, Mr McClean said the union simply wants a level playing field for all educational establishments.

He said: “This current government has an ideological drive towards academies and free schools – but funding should be spread evenly across the board.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health is setting a target to remove all asbestos in schools by 2035.

A Sheffield City Council spokesman said: “Let’s be clear here – we would not be putting children in schools if it was deemed unsafe to do so.

“Many of these schools were built in the 1960s and 70s when the use of asbestos was common practice.

“Hospitals, office blocks and even many private homes contain asbestos.

“Asbestos is safe unless it is disturbed. We follow strict national guidelines and protocols to manage the asbestos in schools.

“We monitor and inspect asbestos regularly in all our schools and these are all risk assessed.”

The spokesman said no school built after 2003 will contain any asbestos.

Sheffield primary schools containing asbestos

Abbey Lane Primary

Acres Hill Primary

Angram Bank Primary

Athelstan Primary

Ballifield Primary

Bankwood Primary

Beck Primary

Beighton Nursery Infant

Birley Community Primary

Bradfield Dungworth Primary

Bradway Primary

Brightside Nursery and Infant

Brook House Junior

Broomhall Nursery

Broomhill Infant

Brunswick Primary

Byron Wood Primary

Carfield Primary

Carter Knowle Junior

Charnock Hall Primary

Clifford Church of England Primary

Coit Primary

Concord Junior

Deepcar St Johns Church of England Junior

Dobcroft Infant and Junior

Dore Primary

E-Act Pathways Academy

Ecclesall Church of England Juniors

Ecclesall Infants

Ecclesfield Primary

Emmanuel Junior

Firs Hill Primary

Gleadless Primary

Greengate Lane Academy

Greenhill Primary

Greenlands Nursery, Infant and Junior

Greystones Primary

Halfway Nursery, Infant and Junior

Hallam Primary

Hartley Brook Primary

Hatfield Primary

High Green Primary

Hillsborough Primary

Holt House Infant

Hucklow Primary

Hunters Bar Infant and Junior

Intake Primary

Limpsfield Junior

Lound Infant and Junior

Lowedges Primary

Lower Meadow Primary

Lowfield Primary

Loxley Primary

Lydgate Infant and Junior

Malin Bridge Primary

Manor Lodge Primary

Mansel Primary

Marlcliffe Primary

Meersbrook Bank Primary

Meynell Primary

Monteney Primary

Mossbrook Primary Special

Mundella Primary

Nether Green Infant and Junior

Netherthorpe Primary

Nook Lane Junior

Norfolk Park Primary Special

Oughtibridge Primary

Parson Cross Church of England Primary

Phillimore Community Primary

Pipworth Community Primary

Porter Croft Church of England Primary Academy

Primary Inclusion Support

Rainbow Forge Primary

Reignhead Primary

Rivelin Primary

Royd Nursery Infant

Sacred Heart Catholic Primary

Sheffield Inclusion Centre

Shortbrook Primary

Shooters Grove Primary

Southey Green Community Primary

Springfield Primary

St Anns Catholic Primary

Stannington Infant

St Catherines Catholic Primary

St John Fisher Catholic Primary

St Josephs Catholic Primary

St Maries Catholic Primary

St Marys Catholic Primary

St Marys Church of England Primary

Stocksbridge Nursery, Infant and Junior

St Patricks Catholic Primary

Stradbroke Primary

St Theresas Catholic Primary

St Thomas More Catholic Primary

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary

St Wilfrids Catholic

The Nether Edge Primary

The Rowan Primary Special

Tinsley Junior

Tinsley Nursery and Infant

Totley All Saints Church of England

Totley Primary

Walkley Primary

Waterthorpe Nursery Infant

Westways Primary

Wharncliffe Side Primary

Whiteways Primary

Wincobank Nursery Infant

Windmill Hill Primary

Wisewood Primary

Woodhouse West Primary

Woodseats Primary

Wybourn Community Primary

Sheffield secondary schools containing asbestos

Birley Community College Secondary

Handsworth Grange Secondary

High Storrs Secondary

King Edward VII Secondary

Notre Dame Secondary

Outwood City Academy

Parkwood Academy

Stocksbridge High Secondary

Handsworth Grange, Handsworth Grange Road.

Handsworth Grange, Handsworth Grange Road.