Campaigners are to carry out secret tests on dozens of English schools this summer to highlight the threat of asbestos which, they claim, is a serious threat to the health of pupils and teachers. MPs, leaders of the teaching unions, and families of teachers killed by asbestos-related diseases have arranged the tests, claiming ministers and local councils are not doing enough to identify - and safely remove - the substance. Asbestos-related illnesses including mesothelioma, a very deadly form of cancer, are believed to kill at least 16 teachers every year - and the figures are rising. Documents obtained by the campaign group Asbestos in Schools show that ministers were warned more than a decade ago that a national audit 'could lead to a panic reaction' and that it would also have 'significant cost implications'. Campaigner Michael Lees, whose wife, Gina, died of mesothelioma aged 51 after teaching for 30 years, said the financial costs of tackling the problem were still overriding health issues. 'Some local authorities are on top of asbestos management, whereas others have given less priority to maintaining school buildings,' he said. He added that in some schools standards of asbestos management 'are dangerous'. The campaigners have persuaded consultants to carry out tests free in up to 100 schools this summer, after the government refused to fund the project. They will use the results in a bid to convince the government of the need for action.
Want to hear about our latest news and blogs?
Sign up now to get it straight to your inbox