Tragically, up to 15 teachers a year are also feared to be killed by mesothelioma, caused by asbestos dust hidden in schools. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is calling for an audit of all schools to assess the risk.

Asbestos, dubbed the ‘silent killer’ is claiming the lives of up to 300 former pupils and 15 teachers a year, a recent report has revealed.

Experts are concerned that the death rates are set to rise as a survey shows that many teachers have not been told if their school contains asbestos.

Dust from asbestos which was widely in walls and ceilings in school buildings after the Second World War, can trigger the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma.

The long latency period for mesothelioma means many victims are unaware they were exposed to the killer dust 30 to 40 years earlier during their school days.

Now the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is calling for a national audit of all schools to assess the asbestos risk.

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “There has to be a proper audit to determine the scale of the problem.

“The dangers of asbestos in schools are obvious. What is needed to truly address the problem is a concerted effort on a national scale.

“Political parties must actively engage with a problem which is very far from being addressed and has taken many lives. Children, parents and staff deserve better.”

Government guidance is that asbestos is safe if it has not been disturbed, but dust particles can be released by putting pins in walls or broken ceiling tiles.

The NUT say 90% of schools still contain asbestos, but a survey found 44% of teachers had not been told if their school contained asbestos.

Just 15% of teachers who were aware that their school contained asbestos had seen a copy of a management plan to deal with the problem.

A worrying one in three teachers reported that there had been an incident which may have led to exposure to asbestos.

The NUT will hear a call at its annual conference in Harrogate for the removal of asbestos from all schools.

Hank Roberts, of Brent, north London, will tell delegates the move is long overdue.

He said: “We don’t believe for one minute this government can’t afford it, money is going to big business when it could go to put children’s lives first and they could have done something about it years ago.

“It is an absolute disgrace.”

According to the World Health Organisation, Britain has the highest mesothelioma rate in the world of 17.8 deaths per million of population.

If you or a family member have been affected by asbestos contact us today on 0800 294 3065 where we can help, assist and advise you in the best way possible.