More than 80 council-maintained schools in Sheffield contain asbestos, but education chiefs insist pupils are not at risk.
The potentially deadly substance is present at 81 schools run by Sheffield Council, most of which are primary schools, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The material, which was widely used in buildings for insulation, flooring and roofing before being banned in the UK in 1999, can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the lining of the lungs.
But it is only dangerous when it is disturbed, releasing fibres into the air, which can happen during building or maintenance work or through vandalism, accidental damage and even, according to government guidance, ‘boisterous behaviour’.
Asbestos is present in most schools built before 2000, but a management plan must be in place for all schools containing the substance, to ensure staff, visitors and contractors know the risks and the necessary precautions to take.
Sheffield Council insists regular risk assessments ensure safety is never compromised at any of the city’s council-maintained schools which are known to contain asbestos.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, the council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: ”Asbestos is only unsafe if it is disturbed. We follow strict national guidelines and protocols to manage the asbestos in the schools. We monitor and inspect asbestos regularly in all our maintained schools and these are all risk assessed.
“We do not put children in schools that are unsafe. Many of our schools were built in the 1960s/70s when the use of asbestos was common practice. Any school built before 2003 could have asbestos in it.”
The Star has only obtained details of council-maintained schools. There are likely to be other schools in the city, outside the council’s control, which also contain asbestos.
In Sheffield, two claims have been made against the council for exposure to asbestos at a school within the city, but the council says nothing has been paid out and neither claim remains active.
The teachers’ union NASUWT has called for stricter safety regulations at schools containing asbestos, and for a government-funded plan for the removal of the mineral from all schools.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “It is unacceptable that there is no coherent funded national plan for the systematic removal of asbestos from schools.
“The NASUWT has consistently called for greater action to be taken to protect school staff and pupils from exposure to asbestos.
“Data from the Health and Safety Executive and the union’s own casework demonstrates that in too many schools statutory and good practice provisions relating to the management of asbestos are being flouted.”
WHICH COUNCIL-MAINTAINED SCHOOLS IN SHEFFIELD CONTAIN ASBESTOS AND WHEN WAS THEIR MOST RECENT ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT SURVEY?
Carfield Primary: 26/01/16
Bankwood Primary: 04/05/16
Bradway Primary: 11/07/16
Abbey Lane Primary: 21/11/15
Carter Knowle Junior: 03/12/15
Woodseats Primary: 15/11/16
Coit Primary: 02/11/17
Netherthorpe Primary: 30/09/16
Athelstan Primary: 08/11/12
Dobcroft Infant: 27/05/16
Dobcroft Junior: 27/05/16
Shortbrook Primary: 22/06/16
Nether Green Infant: 12/12/16
Dore Primary: 02/11/16
Lydgate Infant: 07/01/16
Lydgate Junior: 30/11/15
Holt House Infant: 09/11/16
Anns Grove Primary: N/A
Wharncliffe Side Primary: 07/04/16
Broomhall Nursery: 29/07/16
Springfield Primary: 15/08/16
Royd Nursery Infant: 05/03/15
Bents Green Secondary Special: N/A (localised survey for the basement commissioned after the refurbishment)
Angram Bank Primary: 25/05/16
Lowfield Primary: 21/01/16
Intake Primary: 09/11/16
Marlcliffe Primary: 16/11/16
Oughtibridge Primary: 11/10/10
Rivelin Primary: 12/09/16
Arbourthorne Primary: NA (refurbishment and demolition survey on 04/03/2014)
Bradfield Dungworth Primary: 07/12/16
Ecclesfield Primary: 09/12/16
The Rowan Primary Special: 25/01/18
Halfway Junior: 28/11/16
Brook House Junior: 23/09/16
Reignhead Primary: 11/02/08
Stocksbridge Junior: 15/01/16
High Green Primary: 05/10/16
Brunswick Primary: 13/10/15
Stradbroke Primary: 13/07/16
Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary: N/A
Holgate Meadows Special: N/A
Norfolk Park Primary Special: 28/07/11
Ballifield Primary: 16/07/12
Beighton Nursery Infant: 11/07/16
Brightside Nursery and Infant: 16/09/16
Gleadless Primary 3-11 (Infant Site): 05/01/16
Gleadless Primary 3-11 (Junior Site): 04/01/18
Greystones Primary: 11/02/17
Loxley Primary: 06/07/16
Mossbrook Primary Special: 04/05/16
Mundella Primary: 03/09/15
Nether Green Junior: 31/10/16
Pipworth Community Primary: 31/08/16
Walkley Primary: 05/07/16
Westways Primary: 18/07/16
Whiteways Primary: 23/09/16
Woodthorpe Community Primary: N/A
Ecclesall CE Junior VC: 02/12/15
Ecclesall Infant: 18/12/15
Halfway Nursery Infant: 22/12/17
Heritage Park Community Special: N/A
High Storrs Secondary: 06/04/09
Hunters Bar Infant: 14/12/16
Hunters Bar Junior: 14/12/16
Limpsfield Junior: 18/07/16
Malin Bridge Primary: 28/10/16
Meersbrook Bank Primary: 11/11/16
Mosborough Primary: N/A
Nook Lane Junior: 29/07/16
Norton Free CE Primary VC: N/A
Owler Brook Nursery and Infants: N/A
Sharrow Primary: N/A
Shooters Grove Primary: 15/02/16
Stannington Infant: 18/01/16
Stocksbridge Infant and Nursery: 18/07/12
Waterthorpe Nursery Infant: 16/02/16
Woodhouse West Primary: 18/07/12
King Edward VII Secondary: 03/09/07
Prince Edward Primary: N/A
Grace Owen Nursery: N/A