18 Oct 2012
The Welsh Government has demanded that all schools must deliver reports on their asbestos levels, in a move that has been welcomed by teaching officials and follows the closure of a school in Caerphilly County last week.
Leighton Andrews, education minister, made the decision after Cwmcam High School closed unexpectedly because of asbestos concerns last week. The 900-pupil school was shut late on Friday after the identification of material through a structural report. It will partially re-open in the next few days.
Mr Andrews labelled the situation ‘difficult’, but warned that the councils had clear legal duties to control and report on asbestos findings on an annual basis.
General Secretary of the NASUWT, Wales biggest teaching union, Chris Keats also welcomed the move, stating: “Nothing can be more important than the health and welfare of the children and young people in our schools and the staff who work in them. There is a potential for this to raise massive issues about the funding necessary for the safe removal of asbestos, as this would incur major costs at a time of savage cuts to education budgets.
“NASUWT would wish to support the Welsh Government in seeking funding for this essential measure.”
Asbestos is known to be present in many schools in Wales built between the 1950s and 1980s, but there is no risk to health if it remains undisturbed. However, annual inspections are required to confirm this. The Health and Safety Executive is now looking into whether a full investigation is necessary.
Copyright Press Association 2012