Forty-five schools have been handed Government grants to fund the ‘vital’ removal of asbestos.
More than 1,250 primaries, secondaries and sixth-form colleges have been allocated cash from this year’s Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) including 45 projects to strip buildings of the toxic substance.
Ministers received in excess of 3,500 applications, but based their decision on schools which were in the worst condition or posed a health and safety risk.
Other projects which were given the green light included refurbishing windows and replacing roofs and heating systems, improving drainage and safeguarding issues.
Asbestos in UK schools has been of great concern for many years. In 2015 a study released by the Asbestos in Schools group claimed that a staggering 86 per cent of schools in the UK contain asbestos.
The cost of employing specialists to survey, remove and dispose of asbestos means that many of the schools are unable to remove the hazardous substance.
Prior to its ban in 1999, asbestos was commercially used in a variety of sectors, including construction and refurbishment. Due to its carcinogenic properties, exposure to asbestos dust and fibres is highly dangerous. Asbestos is prevalent in many buildings, including schools that were built prior to 2000, and if disturbed can be inhaled.
Helen Wilson, a specialist asbestos lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “It is scary to think that even in the 21st century many of our old school buildings still contain asbestos.
“It has to be hoped that Government initiatives will be used for the vital removal of asbestos from all schools as soon as possible to ensure that children attending school, both today and in the future, will not run the risk of being exposed to asbestos which can have such devastating consequences for them.”