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Schools: Asbestos

Volume 493: debated on Thursday 4 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the number of maintained schools with asbestos in the fabric of the school building; and if he will make a statement. (276313)

Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were used extensively as building materials in Great Britain and the majority of schools are likely to contain them as are many other buildings both domestic and non-domestic. It has been estimated that more than 500,000 non-domestic premises, including schools, still contain ACMs.

Many maintained schools built or refurbished between 1945 and the early 1980s have asbestos in the fabric of the school building because in that period ACMs were extensively used as building materials in new and refurbished schools, although asbestos removal has taken place in some of them since. In particular, pre-fabricated schools—so called system-built schools—of the CLASP, SCOLA and Hills types commonly used ACMs. The HSE records over 1,400 CLASP schools in the UK, and it has been estimated there are 13,000 system built schools.

Major refurbishments normally include removal of all asbestos in areas in which work is undertaken and when new schools replace old ones the demolition includes the safe disposal of all ACMs.

There are around 28,000 maintained schools in England. The following analysis, compiled in 2001, shows the ages of buildings of maintained schools in England, as percentages of floor area:

Percentage

Pre 1919

14

Inter war

13

From 1945 to 1966

33

From 1967 to 1976

24

Post 1976

13

Temporary premises

3

Our best estimate in September 2008 on the basis of the figures above was that around 70 per cent. of school buildings contain some ACMs.