05 Sep A free online CPD module on asbestos in schools
From today, governors and school leaders from any school or academy can access a free, online learning module designed to help them address the significant issue of asbestos in schools. This module has been produced by Modern Governor in partnership with the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) – which brings together representation from ASCL, ATL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NUT, UNISON, Unite the Union and Voice – and Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP).
Why is this an issue for schools?
The issue of asbestos in built environments is recognised by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as significant. Its effect in schools is amplified by the potential levels of exposure by children and both teaching and support staff to asbestos fibres over many years. Mesotheliomas – the cancers caused by exposure to these fibres – normally take between 20 and 50 years to develop and there is currently no cure for this disease. Currently, more people die of mesotheliomas than die on the roads in the UK each year.
Any school building built or refurbished before 1999 is likely to have asbestos present – and the time spent by both pupils and staff in this environment means that their risk of exposure is greatly increased if any asbestos is not managed. With the prospect of sprinkler systems being retrofitted into some schools in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, there is increased potential for asbestos to be disturbed in some environments. Notwithstanding that, this is an issue which should be on the radar of all involved in school governance.
What do governors and trustees need to know?
Schools and academies have legal responsibilities around asbestos, but with the changing educational landscape leading to the erosion of local authority responsibilities and oversight, many in governance may feel exposed in terms of this area of health and safety policy and practice. The module is intended to ensure that anyone in governance has an understand of the scope of the issue and which questions they should be asking – and of whom.
As with many areas of governance, this isn’t necessarily something which governors should be undertaking themselves, but they should ensure that the appropriate actions have been carried out by the school.
What’s in the module?
Asbestos in schools is a responsive, mobile-friendly e-learning module – just like the other 50+ modules in the Modern Governor service. It takes between 30 to 40 minutes to complete and is organised into eight sections:
- Is there asbestos in my school? – understanding why asbestos is an issue in schools;
- Why was asbestos used? – what asbestos was used for in schools and where it might be located;
- The effects of asbestos – the effects of asbestos on health and the school environment;
- Case studies of asbestos in schools – examples of the impact of asbestos in school settings;
- Roles and responsibilities – the roles of the LA, MATs, dioceses and individual institutions;
- The Duty Holder’s role – how governors should ensure that this role is carried out;
- Emergency actions – typical scenarios a school may face and how to deal with them;
- Summary and resources – further information for governors and school leaders.
How do I access the module?
Anyyone can access the module – your route will depend if you’re currently a subscriber to Modern Governor or not:
If you’re not yet a Modern Governor subscriber:
Getting access to the module is quick and easy – simply visit the page at moderngovernor.com/asbestos and complete the simple registration form. You will be sent an email with a username and password with another link to login – simply click on that link, fill in your username and password, and you’ll have immediate access to the module.
If you don’t immediately see the email, please check your Junk or Spam folders – and if you’re a GMail user, check your All Mail view, as the email may not appear in your Inbox.
Please star or save the email you receive – unlike subscribers your progress through the module won’t necessarily be saved between sessions, and you won’t get a personalised certificate on completion of the module.
If you are already a Modern Governor subscriber:
The module is already available as part of the 50+ modules available to you – simply login to your Modern Governor account, navigate to the Inspection and safeguarding category and enrol on the module as you would any of the other modules. Your progress through the module will be saved – meaning you can work through the module over two or more separate sessions. As with all Modern Governor modules, each subscriber who completes the module can download and print a personalised certificate – see a sample here (PDF).
Is this only for governors and trustees?
Access to this module is open to anyone – governors, trustees, senior leaders, administrators in LAs and MATs, teaching staff, support staff, parents, grandparents and even students. If you have a concern about this issue in your local school, then this module is intended to help you become more informed so that any asbestos present in a school can be effectively managed or removed.
Is this only for the UK?
The success of a parents’ pressure group in persuading the local government in Andalucia to remove the asbestos from schools across the region shows that parental pressure – as seen in the UK during the 2017 General Election – can have a significant impact on local and national policy across the world.
The module is currently only available in English – and while it refers specifically to issues and organisations related to English schools, most of the module will be applicable to schools in the UK, Europe and throughout the rest of the world.
What else can I do?
If you’re a governor or a trustee, you need to ask the questions the modules suggests. You could also sign the petition organised by Lucie Stephens – whose mother features in the module – and find out more about the work of the JUAC.
If you want to share the module with friends and colleagues who work in schools, or parents of pupils, then simply send them the moderngovernor.com/asbestos link.