Governors can't manage schools asbestos
Responsibility for the management of asbestos in state-funding schools must not be transferred to school governors, trade union campaign group has warned. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is calling on the government to abandon its plans to make the governors of all state-funded schools responsible for the health and safety of their pupils and staff. The campaign says local authorities have the specialist knowledge and resources to deal responsibly with asbestos in schools. JUAC chair Julie Winn said making school governing bodies rather than local authorities the 'employer' means they will have to assume full legal responsibilities for the health and safety of their staff and pupils. 'Governors freely volunteered their time and expertise to support schools, but this is a step too far,' she said. 'It is hard to envisage how governors will cope with this additional responsibility with the limited time and resources available to them.' Michael Lees, founder of the Asbestos in Schools Group (AIS), said the change would 'impose an intolerable burden on governors, for if something does go wrong then instead of legal action being taken against the local authority, it will in future be taken against the governors. One must question how many people will volunteer to be governors if that is the case.' NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the government proposals 'will do nothing to protect children and teachers from the threat of poorly-managed asbestos in schools,' with governors left 'without access to local authority support and expertise.' ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: 'The government needs to put the health and safety of children and school staff first - it must not be sacrificed for deregulation.'
Issued: 6 January, 2012