Asbestos was used in the building of schools between 1945 and 1975, but it was also used in school refurbishments so it may be found in buildings built outside of this time period. 

Asbestos comes in 3 main types, although it should be noted that the different types cannot be identified by colour alone:

  • Crocidolite – referred to as “blue” asbestos.
  • Amosite – referred to as “brown” asbestos.
  • Chrysotile – referred to as “white” asbestos.

The use of blue and brown asbestos was banned in the UK in 1985, and the use of white asbestos was banned in 1999.  Consequently, if your school was built in the year 2000 or after, provided you can evidence the build date, by a Certificate of Practical Completion for example, you do not need to have an asbestos management survey carried out.  However, your evidence should be available at reception for inspection by contractors.

If your school was built before 2000, you need to take the following action:

managing asbestos compliantly schools academies
  • Ensure that you have an asbestos survey that has been carried out by a suitably qualified professional.
  • If asbestos has been identified, ensure you have an asbestos management plan in place that is adhered to.
  • The Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) listed in the asbestos management plan must be inspected regularly. 
  • An asbestos management plan must be drawn up based on the information contained in the asbestos management survey.
  • All staff must be informed of the asbestos management plan and be given appropriate training regarding what to do if they believe any ACMs have been disturbed.
  • Ensure your asbestos management survey and plan are available at reception for inspection by contractors.

Where to find further information

On 6 October 2023, the Department for Education updated its document Managing asbestos in your school or college which can be accessed at

The DfE’s document links to the Health & Safety Executive’s document Asbestos management checklist for schools which can be accessed at

Inspection of asbestos management in schools by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)

Between September 2022 and March 2023, the HSE carried out 421 inspections of primary and secondary schools across England to assess how asbestos was being managed.  The HSE stated that,

“The inspections showed that most schools were complying with their legal duties and had effective systems in place to manage and monitor the condition of asbestos containing materials.” 

However, 2 prohibition notices were served, and 28 improvement notices.  The prohibition notices both related to the presence of ACMs in boiler rooms which were likely to be disturbed by people working on the heating system.  The notices prevented access to the areas until the ACMs had been safely removed.

Letters detailing action required to achieve compliance were sent to a further 112 schools.  The most common failings were inadequate or missing asbestos management plans, and inadequate or missing asbestos management surveys.  66% of schools visited were found to be managing asbestos effectively and required no further action or verbal advice.

The HSE issued a report providing a summary of the key findings from the inspections which were that schools should:

  • Keep an up-to-date survey clearly showing the location of asbestos and highlighting any areas not surveyed.
  • Identify any action required by the survey, check to make sure it is completed and update records.
  • Have a clear asbestos management plan specific to the site, and regularly review it.
  • Regularly monitor the condition of ACMs
  • Have effective procedures for dealing with any unplanned disturbance of ACMs and providing accurate information to emergency services attending the site.
  • Ensure staff have clear roles and responsibilities for managing asbestos and ensure deputies or contingency plans are in place to cover for absences.
  • Ensure contractors provide risk assessments, method statements, and evidence of asbestos awareness training.

A key point is to ensure that your asbestos surveyor is suitably qualified by checking that they are an accredited surveyor with the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) which can be accessed via

Of the 421 schools inspected, 305 (78.6%) had surveys carried out by a UKAS accredited supplier.  The full HSE report can be accessed at

Further school inspections by the HSE in 2023/24

The HSE is planning to carry out a further 370 school asbestos inspections between October 2023 and March 2024.  Schools will be contacted in advance of the visit to arrange a suitable date.  The HSE will ask for documentation, such as the asbestos management survey and plan, in advance of their visit.

And finally…

Schools should always:

  • Refer to suitably qualified professionals for detailed advice and guidance
    • Read the latest government advice – see the Department for Education’s Managing asbestos in your school or college which can be accessed via

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