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Teachers, parents and students must work together as Greenwich schools move back online

 

From Monday evening, all schools in Greenwich will be moving their classes online to reduce coronavirus transmissions between children in education in an effort to control the London borough’s infection rate, which is currently at its highest since March.

 

The move back to online learning follows council leader, Danny Thorpe, underlining that Greenwich is showing signs of a period of exponential growth which need immediate addressing, despite the government threatening legal action to keep schools open until the start of the Christmas holidays on Friday.

 

Following the news, Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma, a user experience (UX) design agency, has offered some insight into how to make the transition online as successful as possible and why schools should be working to optimise their use of technology in teaching.

 

Hilary said: “Schools must update their approach to remote teaching based on previous lockdowns, as it moves back to online learning, while children are kept at home as Greenwich seeks to get the virus back under control.

 

“The transition between face-to-face and virtual education needs to be as seamless as possible to minimise the disruption of a child’s education. For the best outcomes, teaching staff, parents and children are going to have to work together to iron out any creases which were apparent earlier in the year, and any new issues that may arise as learning becomes remote again. Schools and local authorities shouldn’t lose sight of the need to make remote learning inclusive, with the same opportunities given to all pupils regardless of their home situation, accessibility or learning needs.

 

“Looking ahead, a blended approach to learning is the future of education as digital becomes more and more integrated in teaching. While the coming weeks will be challenging for all involved, schools in London should view the short-term closure of classrooms as a chance to assess which blending learning approaches work best for their teachers and pupils. Schools who do well to use this time to optimise their use of technology and will place themselves in an ideal position as we move to more remote, digitally-enabled ways of learning.”

 

How parents can help children improve mental health during pandemic with fun PE lessons at home

School closures, Covid-19 self-isolation and lockdown restrictions have made primary school children appreciate PE lessons and sport more than ever before.

A survey by the Youth Sport Trust found that more than a quarter of youngsters said sport and exercise made them feel better during the pandemic.

With most grassroots sports cancelled and ‘bubbles’ being sent home from school; parents are now being urged to help their children stay active during tiered lockdowns.

PE Planning, a team of experienced PE specialists, have created a free resource of ideas and tips on how primary school children can exercise safely at home, boosting their well-being and mental health.

Yorkshire-based PE Planning has published a series of free resource sheets online for both parents and teachers to keep primary aged children active.

Research by the Youth Sport Trust found that 27% of children said sport and exercise improved their mood. This was particularly true for junior school-age pupils aged eight to 11.

More than a third (37%) said sport and PE was more important in their lives now than before lockdown.

Will Smith, founder of PE Planning, said: “Since the start of the pandemic we have seen just how important PE, sport and exercise is to our children and young people.

“Not being able to burn off that excess energy and let off some steam affects how they feel and their mental health.

“With grassroots sport cancelled and school life being very different now it’s important that children still maintain regular exercise.

“Home-schooling has meant parents have been more closely involved with the education of their children than ever before and physical exercise (or physical literacy) is just as important as academic learning.”

PE Planning are specialists in delivering PE planning for primary school age children which supports National Curriculum requirements.

But the company also publishes free exercise advice for parents. There are lots of ideas for family-friendly exercise and games, all with the accent on fun.

There are indoor games, ball skills, dancing and gymnastics – and even exercises that can be done at the kitchen table. There are also family fitness plans so mum and dad can join in too.

The ideas are all simple and inexpensive so everyone can take part even without sports or other equipment at home.

“Our sessions are active, engaging and fun,” said Will. “We want everybody to have access to high quality exercise plans and much of what we offer can be done without any equipment at all.

“We aim to inspire and motivate our children to get active and that’s more important today than ever before. Parents can really make a difference to their children’s physical and mental well-being with a few simple ideas.”

The free resources can be found at www.peplanning.org.uk 

Let’s Talk About Flex: Flipping the flexible working narrative for education by Emma Turner

Opening up the conversation around flexible working in education, this book explores what can work, what has worked, and what could work. Based on the experiences of a professional flex-pert this narrative encourages teachers and school leaders to revisit and rethink flexible working

‘This is a groundbreaking book and an exceptionally good read. Emma has a gift for a musical metaphor, stretched to provide remarkable insights into the possibilities and many of the barriers to flexible working. If any other sector was haemorrhaging highly trained and capable staff with such rapidity, then there would be serious questions asked. Emma poses these questions and provides a range of sensible solutions. We need to stop paying lip service to teacher retention, start taking it seriously and  this book points to the way to take solid steps to get there.’

Mary Myatt, education adviser, speaker and author

Let’s Talk About Flex by Emma Turner is an engaging and witty book that invites school leaders and teachers to re-examine flexible working. After being able to work flexibly for 14 of her 23 years in education across teaching, school leadership and MAT leadership roles, Emma Turner realised that sadly, she was actually in the minority and has just been very fortunate. Recently there has been a groundswell of support across the education system for developing more life friendly, innovative and flexible ways of working, however there are still a great deal of misconceptions, biases and prejudices about flexible working and flexible workers.

 

Through her ‘playlist’ of favourites and engaging, humorous musical analogies, Emma explores the countdown of successful ways that flexible working can be viewed by both employers and employees for staff at all levels, including senior and school leadership. This book examines the options and opportunities and asks the questions that need to be answered in order to open up the flexible working conversation.

 

After introducing the reader to her ‘disco in the kitchen’, and the thoughts behind her selection of educational floor fillers, the conversation turns to thinking about:

  • What flexible working means
  • Challenging historical working practices, allowing a more flexible approach that encourages continuous professional development that helps attract and retain teachers
  • Looking into the types of flexible working defined by the Department of Education: part-time working, job-sharing, compressed hours, staggered hours, working from home and what these options have to offer when combined with some innovative thinking about staffing
  • Providing opportunity for staff to request flexible working and its position within the school staffing structure
  • How flexibility fits with performance management, mentoring, coaching, facilitating and staff training and ensuring equitable opportunities to both full time and flexible workers
  • The ‘famous five’ common myths about why flexible working would be impossible to implement: opposition from parents, schools need one leader, complications with contracts and calculating wages, the school timetable, there are already too many part-time staff, each of these are thoughtfully debunked
  • The logistics: building shared expectations and designing systems for communication, events and meetings to ensure continuity for students and staff
  • Co-leadership structures and how they are built
  • Accountability and mechanisms for job-shares and support for lone workers.

 

Each chapter is full of examples of Emma’s first hand experiences as a teacher and a leader, illustrating the issues being discussed and ending with guiding questions for both employers and flexible workers to help continue the discussion.

 

Commenting on her new book, Emma Turner said, ‘Whether you’re an individual wanting to know more about flexibility, an organisation wanting to shake up the way you flex in your own workplaces or you’re someone determined to take on rigid or outdated systems in your own organisations, then I want to let you know you are not on your own. There is so much happening on the flexi dance floor right now so pull on your dancing shoes, turn up the volume and whack on an edu floor-filler.’

 

To learn more or order a copy of Let’s Talk About Flex (priced at just £12), please click here.

 

Oxford International Digital Institute launched to meet growing demand for online courses following Covid-19

Oxford International Education Group has launched a new online academic hub bringing together an entire portfolio of digital courses to help international students learn in an education environment turned upside down by Covid-19.

 

Oxford International Digital Institute (OI Digital Institute) will provide students with high-quality online learning across the education provider’s three divisions – schools and colleges, university partnerships and English Language.

 

Demand for online courses from these divisions, growing steadily for years, accelerated during the recent worldwide closures of universities and schools and the accompanying disruption to study and exams. OI Digital Institute is responding to the growing need for online-only courses in traditional academic subjects for pre-university and university students, reflecting the increased long-term appetite for online learning post- Covid-19.

 

From March 2020, University of Dundee, Coventry University, University of Greenwich, University of Bangor, De Montfort University International College, University of Hertfordshire, University of Roehampton, University of Strathclyde, and others have worked with Oxford International developing online programmes and now use OI Digital Institute as their trusted digital pathway to higher education and admissions test partner.

 

Oxford International is one of just 25 institutions that has been recognised by the British Council for online course delivery.

 

Lil Bremermann-Richard, Group Chief Executive Officer at Oxford International Education Group, said:

 

“Online learning has come of age in the pandemic and it will play an increasingly important role in higher education in the future.

 

“We have launched Oxford International Digital Institute to help international students navigate the new educational landscape and provide them with the best quality online courses.

 

“The OI Digital Institute team has worked with over 15 higher education partners in 2020 alone to help mobilise online learning and keep over 4,000 students on track of their education journey. Further to this we have worked alongside partners to offer innovative blended solutions, engaging students in dynamic learning programmes featuring the best of face-to-face teaching in-country, and online support from the UK.”

 

OI Digital Institute courses at launch are:

  • Fully online English Language Test for admission to Higher Education.
    • Technology brings the student and examiner together rather than trying to automate exams, allowing students after a three-session preparation course to take the exam and get the results within 48 hours.
  • Higher Education Online Pathways, which include
    • PhD Preparation Programme;
    • University Pre-Master Programme.
    • Online Pre-sessional English (PSE);
    • Language Skills Booster Course;
    • In-Sessional English;
  • Online English Language Programmes
    • The Junior language syllabus accredited by the British Council previously available to students staying in residential camps now available online with a mix of live lessons and self-guided learning.
    • General English and a stream of subject specific electives such as Creative Writing, Journalism, Customer Service and 21st Century Business
  • Digital University Partnerships including
    • Blended Pre-sessional courses (Coventry University powered by Oxford International) combining UK language teaching with face-to-face teaching in China.
    • Digital language support programmes (test, online PSE, online Pre-Masters) for international campuses in countries like Vietnam.
  • Online A-Levels
    • Oxford independent school d’Overbroeck’s will first offer A-Level booster courses, followed by full A-Level courses to answer demands from international and domestic students for choice of study online or face to face.  

 

The Oxford International Digital Institute courses are available at www.oiddigitalinstitute.com

 

For further information and interviews, please contact the Public Relations team via:

Telephone: +44(0)20 8293 1188

Email: marketing@oxfordinternational.com

Website: wwww.oxfordinternational.com

How Schools Can Combat Waste

In 2018, the UK government published a waste management strategy for England. It set out various targets for waste reduction and sustainability. One of these targets was that 50 per cent of household waste should be recycled by 2020. The realisation of this target is yet to be demonstrated and published. However, the government remains optimistic.

 

However, while local authorities continue to combat household waste, another public sector is being neglected. Figures indicate that the education sector only recycles around 23 per cent of its waste.

 

Primary schools generate about 45kg of waste per pupil, while secondary schools produce 22kg per pupil. This totals 250,000 tonnes of waste every year.

 

While the figure is disappointing, it does not detract from the enthusiasm of students to utilise more sustainable practices in their schools. Many students have encouraged authorities to ensure that the environment is a priority. Recycling, composting, and litter picking are all aspects of waste management that children are helping to put into motion.

 

Here, we look at why waste is a problem for educational institutions, and how schools and local authorities can help combat this problem.

Wasteful spending

Education requires a lot of resources. It is unsurprising, therefore, that 70 per cent of all education waste is made up of food, paper, and card. However, while 80 per cent of this waste is recyclable, the reality is that only 20 per cent of it is actually recycled.

 

Food waste in the education sector is particularly expensive. The price of procurement, labour, utilities, and waste management means that food waste can cost £2,100 per tonne. Over the course of a year, local authorities will dish out £250 million to manage food waste.

 

Equally, Landfill Tax adds to an avoidable cost which schools could manage better. Estimates suggest that local authorities could save £6.4 million by utilising more sustainable methods of waste management.

 

The problem can be tackled by both local authorities and individually at education organisations.

 

Sustainable schools lead the way

The Eco-School campaign has registered 52,000 schools across 67 countries. These schools follow a seven-step framework to claim a coveted green flag. The steps include forming an eco-committee of students, making an action plan, and putting that plan into motion. Some schools can compost more or grow their own fruit and vegetables on school grounds.

 

Meanwhile, other schools are taking more proactive measures to reduce waste. Biomass digesters are used to transform food waste into biofuel. This can then be used for heating and energy. On school grounds, this device not only reduces waste. It can also cut emissions from transporting waste to disposal facilities.

 

Composting is also a common practice at many schools getting to grips with sustainability. Most unavoidable waste, such as eggshells and tea bags, can be composted. Meanwhile, cooked food is better suited to wormeries. Primarily, avoiding food waste is achieved by encouraging students to eat all of their lunch.

Local authorities tackling problems

The main focus for local authorities regarding waste management is to reduce overheads and operating costs. With increasing budget restraints, new solutions are needed to combat this problem.

 

Avoiding landfill is an obvious option for local authorities to save money. However, school waste going to landfill may be an unavoidable consequence. Public waste services are also struggling with stripped budgets. Instead, contracting waste management businesses may be the solution. They can implement waste strategy plans and organise waste effectively.

 

Single-stream waste recycling is becoming increasingly common across all sectors. And even local government offices are becoming more aware of their waste responsibilities. Most use waste procurement and waste removal companies. They can organise and dispose of their waste, with assurance that sustainability is ensured.

 

Education centres can also benefit from this approach if it’s implemented by local authorities. Commercial businesses must follow stringent guidelines when it comes to waste. They must ensure that everything is done to reuse, recycle, or recover waste—in this order. It’s therefore surprising that education isn’t currently achieving the same. With recycling targets for household waste at 50 per cent, it should be possible for the education sector to meet those targets too. Especially when education waste consists of predominantly recyclable materials.

 

One waste removal specialist company indicates that education is pivotal to ensuring waste is disposed of properly. Michael Taylor, General Manager at Skip Hire UK says: “Schools have a duty to lead by example and give the next generation the tools, ideas, and logic to make sound decisions with regards to environmental best practice.

 

“Education is key here — and while there is no perfect world, doing the right thing in the most cost-effective manner will always be a solid principle to adhere to. Companies like ours and others across the industry will always look to assist schools to promote and educate future generations.”

 

Leading by example is the best form of education. Depriving students of the opportunity to work in an environment where sustainability is a priority is damaging. Students have a considerable enthusiasm for climate change. They understand the consequences of unsustainable practices. Schools must continue to use their platform to inspire the next generation to use waste responsibly and ensure they remain leaders in the green revolution.

 

 

Sources

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/resources-and-waste-strategy-for-england

https://www.wrap.org.uk/content/new-study-shows-great-potential-recycling-school-waste

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-landfill-tax/landfill-tax-rates-from-1-april-2013

https://www.eco-schools.org.uk/about/howitworks/

STEPNELL HITS MAJOR MILESTONES ON THREE SOUTHERN SCHOOL SCHEMES

AWARD-WINNING construction partner Stepnell has made significant progress with three of its education projects in the southern region – Gordon’s School, Canford School and The Woodroffe School.

The projects, which all include the development of brand-new facilities for students and staff, have recently reached substantial construction milestones and contribute to Stepnell’s ever-growing portfolio of education clients.

Located in Woking, Surrey, Gordon’s School’s new sports facility was completed last month (October) following a £6 million, 36-week programme that continued to progress throughout lockdown. The ultra-modern build – designed by NVB Architects – includes a 1,223 square metre sports hall with associated changing rooms and supporting spaces. Stepnell also installed a new, all-weather 3G pitch with the help of S&C Slatter to provide a high-quality playing surface for both football and rugby.

Rob Speirs, regional director at Stepnell, said: “We’re excited that Stepnell is continuing to strengthen its position as a leading contractor in this sector and we are proud of our involvement in these projects that will help to facilitate learning for generations to come.”

Susan Meikle, bursar at Gordon’s School, said: “We are delighted with our new sports hall. Stepnell has had to endure the most difficult circumstances while building it – both weather-wise and because of Covid-19. We are grateful to them for their skill and professionalism.”

Throughout lockdown, Stepnell also remained on site at Canford School in Wimborne, Dorset, which is now gearing up for the next phase of its new, 56-bed boarding house. The £3.9 million development, which also includes a garage and external works such as paving, asphalt, fencing and top soiling, is due to be complete in June 2021.

Rob continued: “Despite this project commencing on the first day of national lockdown back in March, we were able to maintain our build schedule and complete site work through the implementation of stringent health and safety precautions that – we believe – have been central to our recent successes.”

Stepnell has also demonstrated its success in the educational sector with its latest project with The Woodroffe School, won through Dorset Council’s Smaller Capital Works Framework, that is also due to start on site in January 2021. The £2 million development will include a new, two-storey teaching block with classrooms and a group learning space, library resource centre and additional office space to help expand the school’s academic offering.  

Landscape work will also be undertaken to include the creation of new footpaths in the surrounding areas, providing full accessible circulation to the ground floor and accompanying lifts for disabled users.

The year-long scheme will pose a number of challenges, including the navigation of a live site and logistical difficulties – with the stand-alone new build cut into a hillside to accommodate for the elevated terrain.

Rob said: “We will continue to remain on site throughout this next stage of lockdown as long as it is safe to do so. We are committed to delivering our projects on-budget and on time, but the well-being of our employees is of paramount importance. We will carry on implementing these health and safety precautions with full vigour while monitoring any changes in the government guidelines to make sure we are adhering to the rules set in place.”

To find out more about Stepnell visit: www.stepnell.co.uk or join the conversation at @Stepnellltd.

UK’s largest school transport provider Kura launches self serve offering

Leading transport management provider Kura has implemented a new customer-focussed technology strategy as part of a revamped vision to deliver safer, greener, smarter travel for schools across the UK. 

 

Under the guidance of a refreshed management team, including recently-appointed CEO Godfrey Ryan, the company will for the first time make its proprietary software technology available to schools on a standalone, self-service basis or combined with a series of flexible service packages, depending on customer requirements.

 

Schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs) will still be able to fully outsource their transport operation to Kura, including route building, management or tracking if required, but in addition the business is now able to offer its innovative, technology through a lower cost, self serve package at any time of year. This will enable schools to measure, review and improve their existing school run transport operation.

 

This flexibility forms a key part of the new company focus based around providing Software as a Service (SaaS), which is designed with the future needs of schools at front of mind. Also as part of the refresh, the Transport2 brand name will revert to being the holding company only, meaning Kura will continue as the customer facing brand for the education sector and become the new brand for the business as a whole.

 

Godfrey Ryan, CEO of Kura, explains: “In allowing schools to select which services they want to use, we have put them firmly in the driving seat for building their own bespoke service which is more efficient and appropriately assembled to match their specific needs. One size rarely fits all and we have responded directly to what our customers are telling us they need.

 

“While this approach marks a departure for us, the central tenets of our proposition remain the same: we aim to provide safer, greener and smarter travel for schools across the independent and MAT sectors. The coming year is a challenging one to predict but we believe this reshaping of our core strategy puts us in the best possible position to meet changing customer needs and grow.”

 

“What we have done is to simplify all our services under one non-competing complimentary brand. The move will help us provide better focus on servicing the needs of our existing customers while enabling us to reach new customers in a direct way.”

 

Kura works with leading schools across the UK to facilitate a safer, greener, smarter school run. Operating across 400 travel routes, the business currently enables 11,000 children to travel to and from school safely each day.

 

For more information, please visit: https://ridekura.com/schools

CIFAS WARNS SCHOOLS OF HIGH COURT WRIT SCAM

New scam targeting schools demanding the immediate payment of thousands of pounds

Cifas advising schools to ensure staff are trained to handle such requests

 

Cifas is warning schools to be wary of requests for payments received from unknown callers following reports of fraudsters contacting head teachers claiming a High Court Writ has been issued against them.  

Targets of this scam claim that after requests for a payment of up to £3,000 were refused, the fraudsters then apply additional pressure by claiming enforcement officers would be sent to the school.

Cifas is reminding schools to ensure that staff are appropriately trained to handle such situations, and that any schools approached with this scam should ask for the information to be emailed as well as a phone number to contact them back on. Staff should not engage in further conversation.  

Criminals will often look to take advantage of complex situations and will use pressure tactics to encourage victims to part with either their information or their money. Cifas research shows that fraud is increasing on a yearly basis, with 2019 seeing the highest number of cases of fraudulent conduct ever filed to the National Fraud Database. More recently, 9 in 10 fraud professionals at the Cifas Annual Conference said they believed that cases of fraudulent activity would rise even further in 2020 and 2021.

Cifas is reminding anyone who is approached out of the blue by someone asking for financial or personal information to:

Stop – take a minute and think about parting with your money or information;

Challenge – could it be fake? You can reject, refuse or ignore any requests you receive and only criminals would try to rush or panic you;

Protect – if you think you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

New Suffolk school opens in Grade II listed Wetheringsett Manor to boost outcomes for vulnerable pupils from Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge

A new specialist school with state-of-the-art facilities has opened in Stowmarket, Suffolk in Grade II listed former rectory Wetheringsett Manor, in response to the growing demand for personalised learning to meet the needs of pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. An architectural gem set in beautiful grounds, Wetheringsett Manor School has been extensively refurbished and extended to provide an inspiring and therapeutic learning environment for vulnerable pupils aged 11-18 – and its specialist approach is already attracting pupils from the surrounding counties of Essex, Norfolk and Cambridge as well as Suffolk.

At Wetheringsett Manor School, part of Acorn Education & Care and Outcomes First Group, education is adapted to meet each individual’s learning needs while ensuring they also feel safe, secure and nurtured. Catering to pupils who have a wide range of social, emotional and mental health needs – for whom a mainstream environment is often too overwhelming – the school provides a variety of learning spaces suitable for one-to-one and small group teaching to optimise outcomes. Classes have a maximum of six children with one teacher and a teaching assistant, with additional support from a team of specialist staff – including speech and language therapists, educational psychologists and occupational therapists.

A brand new extension adjoining the main building, which dates back to 1843, houses spacious modern classrooms, each equipped with the latest education technology including interactive whiteboards and laptops. Calming sensory areas provide essential spaces for pupils to regulate their senses, which in turn helps to support their emotional wellbeing. While literacy and numeracy skills underpin the school’s curriculum, great emphasis is placed on ensuring that the education delivered is relevant to pupils’ experiences of the real world so that they can apply what they learn in everyday situations.

Set in extensive grounds in the picturesque village of Wetheringsett, the school provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor learning. Forest school is an integral part of the school week and takes place every Wednesday, giving pupils the chance to develop self-confidence and life skills through teamwork activities such as building fires and shelters. Each child has their own section of an allotment, with home-grown produce used in lessons to prepare lunchtime food. Resident muntjac deer, pheasants and guinea fowl add to the enriched learning environment, and the school is also looking to welcome a therapy dog and chickens.

Further plans in the pipeline include a new sports centre, as well as developing the existing on-site factory to provide vocational training opportunities for pupils in sectors such as mechanics, health and beauty, decorating, plumbing and joinery. The school is also looking to develop further learning links with local colleges.

Drawing referrals from local authorities in Suffolk and the surrounding counties of Norfolk, Essex and Cambridge, Wetheringsett Manor is growing its intake to support more pupils with SEMH and other complex needs. Some of these vulnerable young people have been out of the education system for up to two years due to a lack of suitable placements within reasonable travelling distance.

Commenting on the opening of Wetheringsett Manor School, Headteacher David Bishop said, “We are delighted to be welcoming our first students and supporting them on their education journey, helping to unlock both their personal and academic potential. Our traditional manor house has expanded to include a modern classroom block with everything teachers and students could need. We believe in delivering an exceptional education and to do this we’ve invested in creating an environment to inspire learning, which, coupled with our professional teaching team, gives our students a first class start in life.”

Parents and carers interested in finding out about Wetheringsett Manor School and its suitability for their child are welcome to get in touch directly with the school at office@wetheringsettmanor.co.uk or call 01449 703935.

What Asbestos Taught Us About Managing Risk

The UK’s asbestos industry ended on 24th August 1999 after being used heavily from the 1950s to 80s. Over 20 years on, we’re starting to see the delayed latency period taking effect as asbestos deaths have peaked over the last year or so.

 

Asbestos was unknowingly dangerous to public health. Fibres that are too hard to be broken down by the body are breathed in and lodged in our lungs, causing many adverse health effects. Inhaling asbestos is directly linked to multiple diseases, including:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer
  • Asbestosis

These diseases can have high fatality rates. Furthermore, these asbestos-related illnesses have a delayed latency period. This means they don’t usually develop until many years after exposure. This material was used heavily industrially and residentially.

 

Asbestos Audit, asbestos removal professionals, commented: “Asbestos is still a significant risk on sites and buildings throughout the UK. Even with some of the most stringent regulations and legislation in the world, people are still being exposed to asbestos on a daily basis.

 

“The majority of exposures occur due to either negligence or simply not knowing the legal requirements for surveying and removing asbestos products. If asbestos management is undertaken correctly, with the correct training in place, the danger and associated risks are reduced significantly.”

 

Here, we’ll explore the biggest asbestos failings and what we’ve learnt from them.

 

Is asbestos still a risk?

Although asbestos was banned in the UK two decades ago, the dangerous carcinogen lingers. It is the leading cause of occupational death, with 5,500 deaths caused last year. A new report revealed that although there have been significant efforts across the board to have the material removed to avoid risking life, there are an estimated six million tons of asbestos remaining inside around 1.5 million buildings. Some of these buildings include schools and hospitals built before 24th August 1999.

Failure to plan, manage, and monitor

Several construction companies have been heavily fined due to failing to recognise the risk of asbestos on school sites, putting subcontractors, staff, young children, and their families at risk. It is not only the direct inhalers of the fibre that are exposed to harm—secondary asbestos exposure occurs when those working with the material bring it home, for example, on their clothes, and affect their families.

 

The construction companies at hand failed to:

 

  • Effectively plan, manage, and monitor the work to prevent the accidental disruption of the asbestos
  • Communicate information about the asbestos
  • Secure the site with barriers or signs warning of asbestos, putting lives at risk

 

Speaking on the case, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspector Andrew Bowker commented: “The exposure to asbestos could so easily have been avoided if the two companies involved had put sufficient effort into planning, managing, and monitoring the ceiling tile removal work.

 

“HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

 

Hundreds of teachers have sadly lost their lives due to asbestos exposure at work over 15 years. Teachers have since been campaigning to have asbestos removed from 32,770 schools across the UK.

 

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “On average, a teacher has died of asbestos-related disease every fortnight over the past 15 years.

 

“This death toll will continue until the ­Government develops a planned and costed programme for its removal from ­educational buildings.”

 

The importance of a duty holder

In 2014, Marks and Spencer admitted negligently exposing an employee to asbestos, who now has mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer. In this case, employees suffering from asbestos-related diseases was caused by owners of premises failing to comply with legal safety procedures.

 

The duty to manage asbestos is enshrined in law—the Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012 places a legal responsibility on a person assigned as the duty holder so that suitable asbestos management action is planned and taken so that buildings are safe. Duty holders who fail their responsibilities can be faced with legal action.

 

If you’re a duty holder and are unsure of the risk in your building, find out more about asbestos survey types.

 

The fatal impact of cutting corners

Kate Richmond, who worked as a medical student and junior doctor at the NHS, was given a few months left to live in early 2020. She was negligently exposed to asbestos at the old Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry. Around the same time, many compensation claims were placed by NHS staff for asbestos-related diseases since 2013, which has cost the health service over £26m.

 

Similarly, in 2011, major multinational retailer Marks and Spencer was faced with a £1m fine for exposing customers and employees to asbestos in Reading and Bournemouth stores during refurbishments. The judge accused the retailer of choosing profit over health and safety and effectively neglecting to ensure a safe working and shopping environment.

 

Negligence like this can certainly be more costly than simply conducting an asbestos audit or providing the correct preventative measures. It can tarnish an organisation’s reputation by failing to provide a duty of care.

 

 

 

Make sure you take the appropriate safety measures—the effects of asbestos cannot be undone, but it can easily be prevented.

 

 

Sources

https://www.asbestos.com/news/2019/11/27/report-million-uk-buildings-contain-asbestos-infographic/

 

https://www.shponline.co.uk/in-court/asbestos-failures-lead-to-fines/