SCHOOLS are “murdering” children at the age of five by refusing to remove asbestos from their buildings, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference heard yesterday.
Delegates overwhelmingly endorsed a call for the government to bring in asbestos air tests to assess the dangers posed to children and teachers.
The NUT says 86 per cent of schools have asbestos on site — but a survey carried out by the union found half of teachers had not been told whether their school contained the deadly substance.
People who inhale asbestos dust can contract the terminal cancer mesothelioma decades later.
Schools are permitted to leave asbestos in place so long as it is properly managed and remains undisturbed.
But unions have warned that it poses a particular risk in schools because of vandalism by kids.
North London teacher activist Hank Roberts said: “They’re murdering our kids at five years old.”
Fellow Brent delegate Jennifer Cooper said a request by the union to carry out a test in her school “mimicking the conditions” of the typical disruption caused by pupils and assess the dust, was denied on the grounds it was too dangerous.
“We don’t work in offices where we sit still, our children and teachers move, do PE, bang into walls,” she said.
Derby delegate Stephanie King told the conference her father had died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work.
“When we talk about cuts in education, the money for free schools, the money for grammar schools, in that conversation, every time, we should be talking about our toxic buildings and why we’re continuing to be exposed,” she said.