The committee, which is holding an inquiry into capital funding for schools including school buildings, heard from former headteacher at Hetton School in Sunderland, Phil Keay, as well as current acting headteacher Craig Knowles.
“When ceilings lift, the dust then falls”
The headteachers spoke about the risks to pupils as the school faced an almost decade-long wait for new buildings after originally being told in 2007 that it would be rebuilt as part of the then-Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.
However, this was cancelled when the Conservative-led coalition government came to power in 2010. After several years of uncertainty as to whether the school would be rebuilt after all, including the collapse of a private funding deal, pupils were finally able to move into new buildings last September.
Mr Knowles told MPs: “We had to close various different areas of the school in windy conditions because of the potential asbestos problems.”
Mr Keay said that asbestos would be exposed when wind passed through the building and caused ceiling tiles to rise, explaining: “When ceilings lift, the dust then falls.
“So we had two or three cases where we had to close off school, and in fact pupils had to go into the de-fumigation van, the emergency van, to make sure they were de-dusted and hosed down and cleaned.
“It was not a building that was fit to have children in for several years prior to its closure and move to a new building.”
Continuing concerns over school asbestos procedures
According to the Government’s own report, a fifth of schools are “not fully compliant” with proper asbestos procedures, leaving about a million children at risk of exposure.
The report also stated that 100 schools were considered to be a “significant cause for concern”.
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