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Education in the media: 2 December 2016

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Curriculum, Exams and qualifications, School spending


Today’s news review looks at coverage of asbestos in schools and the announcement that Art History will be kept on as an A-level subject.

Asbestos in schools

Today, 2 December, the BBC reported that over the last 10 years there have been 99 incidents of asbestos being disturbed in schools and that local authorities have paid out more than £10 million in compensation.

BBC Breakfast, BBC Online and the Victoria Derbyshire show covered the figures and spoke with health professionals, teachers, parents and solicitors. The coverage reported on calls for a phased removal of asbestos in all schools by 2028.

It is important to note that asbestos does not present a health risk if it is undisturbed. If material containing asbestos is chipped, drilled, broken or allowed to deteriorate, it can release a fine dust that contains asbestos fibres. Removal is therefore not necessarily the best solution as it is likely to create dust, which is the harmful element.

The legal responsibility for managing asbestos lies with local authorities, academy trusts or governing bodies. They must ensure they have the right information to make effective decisions on how asbestos is managed.

Removal of asbestos is also part of the Priority School Building Programme, which will dedicate £23 billion by 2021 to upgrade school sites across the country.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The health and safety of children and staff in our schools is vital – that’s why we are investing £23 billion in school buildings by 2021. This will help ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time.


Last year we published a comprehensive review of asbestos in schools and we are implementing its findings in full. We continue to work with the Health and Safety Executive and others on this issue to transform the way in which we collect information on asbestos to improve our understanding.

Art history A-level

Yesterday, 1 December, the exam board Pearson announced that A-level Art History and Statistics will continue to be offered in England.

The announcement was strongly welcomed by stakeholders, including academics, museum directors and Turner Prize winners Anish Kapoor, Cornelia Parker and Jeremy Deller. The news was covered in BBC News, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and TES, among others.

We firmly believe that there is value in having a broad range of high-quality choices available to A level students and our intention has always been that there should continue to be A levels available in these subjects.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb laid a statement in Parliament welcoming the move, which you can read in full here.

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