Wednesday, 20 July 2016 10:14

Asbestos in schools petition launched by the family of a mesothelioma victim, who was a teacher

Sue Stephens was exposed to the deadly substance during 30 years of classroom teaching – and her first thought was to spare her pupils the same fate


“Sue’s story is heartbreaking,” says Rachel Reeves MP, who chairs the Asbestos in Schools Committee. “But what is really shocking is that 21,000 schools still contain asbestos and pupils, parents and staff don’t know about it. The Government has a duty to protect children and teachers.” Last year an NUT survey found that 44% of current teachers have not been told if their school contains asbestos.

Between 2003 and 2012 more than 224 teachers in England died of ­mesothelioma – cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. Last year, 22 teachers died, giving the UK the highest death rate in the world

A spokesman said the Department for Education is investing £23billion in school buildings by 2021. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of children and staff in our schools,” he said.

“It’s too late for mum now, but she wants to save others,” Sue's daughter Lucie said. “We want schools to give annual reports on asbestos – as has happened in the US for 30 years – and we want asbestos out of all schools.”

Unison and the NUT are also calling for a complete removal.

Read more about Sue Stephen's story via the link below

Sue, 68, asked her family to start a campaign so that every child’s potential exposure to asbestos has to be disclosed to families. So far, 5,000 people have signed her petition on the 38 Degrees campaign website. With seven million pupils at risk, there should be few more urgent matters in the in-tray of the new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening.


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