Commenting on the fine issued to a construction company after sub-contractors were exposed to asbestos while refurbishing Oakwood Junior School in Derby, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT- The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The NASUWT is deeply troubled to see that in yet another school, asbestos has been removed unsafely. While the prosecution and fine is welcome, this incident should not have happened in the first place.

“The NASUWT has stated consistently that the management of asbestos in situ is flawed, and all asbestos must be removed from all schools to prevent these cases occurring.

“If this work had been undertaken in term time, the outcome could have been much more serious, with potentially large numbers of pupils and teachers contaminated.

“The NASUWT is also concerned that Derby City Council appears to have learned very little from the Silverhill prosecution in 2007, at which the NASUWT was a key witness in securing the prosecution.

“The Government and employers should be taking a more proactive approach to the safety and welfare of pupils and staff.”


More than half (53%) of BME teachers have reported being subject to verbal abuse at school in the last twelve months, Chris Keates, the General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, told a conference of BME teachers today.

At the NASUWT BME Teachers’ Consultation Conference in Birmingham, the largest gathering of BME teachers in Europe, Ms Keates told the delegation:

“BME teachers continue to be subjected to racist remarks, negative comments, and threats of disciplinary action because of their racial origin.

“Teachers are continuing to face misery, humiliation, ill-health, loss of confidence and blighted careers as a result of this abuse.”

The General Secretary also recounted that 42% of BME teachers say they are not supported by senior management to deal with pupil indiscipline.

“This unacceptable failure to act is indefensible and reprehensible.

“It is a failure of the employer’s legal duty of care to employees. Too often, schools are condoning behaviour that is leaving BME staff, and indeed pupils, isolated and vulnerable, setting an appalling example to our children and young people.”

Ms Keates also raised the top concerns of the teaching profession, which workload remains the number one issue. She said many BME teachers were “buckling under the weight of more and more administrative tasks.

“Teachers are being crushed by punitive assessment and working policies, designed to hold them to account rather than support pupil progress.

“They are trapped in the seemingly permanent revolution of curriculum change, invariably ill-thought through, under-resourced, and badly executed.”

Ms Keates highlighted the NASUWT’s “outstanding” success in fighting for the rights of BME teachers, which has secured “positive change”.

“The NASUWT has stood alone for what is right, often against the prevailing views of the day, on pay, workload, the teachers’ contract, pupil indiscipline and equality.”