News

December 2016
Coroner rules that former teacher Sue Stephens died following asbestos exposure at school

Sue Stephens, a former primary school teacher tragically died of mesothelioma in June 2016. Devon coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland has concluded that Sue died from an industrial disease, and on the balance of probability, she was exposed to asbestos during her time as a teacher in Buckinghamshire. Sue’s daughter Lucie said ‘No-one told mum that the schools she taught in contained asbestos so she was unable to protect herself or her pupils from the dangers of exposure to lethal asbestos fibres.’ Read the full JUAC press release here. You can view the FOI responses online here.

Lucie wants the removal of all asbestos in schools to be her mother’s legacy, and has started an online petition, calling on the Government to commit to this. Please sign and share the petition, online here.


December 2016
FOI requests reveal that councils have paid over £10 million in compensation in the last five years

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted to councils in England and Wales have revealed that more than £10 million has been paid in compensation to staff and former pupils over the last five years because of asbestos exposure in schools. The FOI requests were submitted by Lucie Stephens, the daughter of a former teacher who died of mesothelioma in June.

 Commenting on the situation, John McClean, Chair of JUAC, said:

‘What this information reveals is that the Government’s policy of managing asbestos in schools is simply not working and is putting children and staff at risk. We call upon the Government to: 

  • undertake a national audit of asbestos in schools;
  • set out a long term strategy for the removal of asbestos from schools; and 
  • ensure that the Health and Safety Executive has the funding it needs to inspect schools.’

The full JUAC press release is available here.


November 2016
JUAC letter to Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner

JUAC has written to Angela Rayner setting out our main concerns about the presence and management of asbestos in schools. The letter sets out the key issues and JUAC’s policy demands. The letter is available here.


August 2016
Online petition for asbestos removal set up following death of former teacher from mesothelioma 

Sue Stephens was a primary school teacher in Buckinghamshire for over 30 years. Tragically, in June 2016 she died from mesothelioma, aged 68, as a result of exposure to asbestos during her time in schools. Sue’s daughter Lucie Stephens has launched an online petition calling on the Government to implement a policy of phased removal of all asbestos in schools, to be completed by 2028. Please sign and share the petition, which is online here.


August 2016
The Health & Safety Executive
A free-to-download Asbestos Survey Guide


April 2016
Joint Union investigation in Brent reveals serious failings in school asbestos management 

A joint union investigation in the London Borough of Brent has revealed years of asbestos mismanagement in schools. At the heart of the investigation is the story of how a former school pupil developed mesothelioma at the age of 40 because she was exposed to asbestos while a pupil in school.

While the investigation was carried out in Brent, the failings are indicative of a national problem and highlight how asbestos in schools is being managed unsafely. The report makes a number of urgent recommendations to the Government and HSE, which include initiating a policy of phased removal of all asbestos from schools. The JUAC press release about the Brent report is available here. The Executive Summary of the Brent report is available here and the full report is available here.

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