A real class act

14 July 2015

High performing schools deserve high performing service. Chris Parkes, operations director at Julius Rutherfoord, outlines how quality cleaning leads to sparkling results

The school summer holidays are an opportunity for pupils and teachers alike to unwind and enjoy a well-deserved break, but once the schools gates are closed this is the perfect time for professional cleaning organisations to get to work deep cleaning the premises ready for the next academic term. 


Those contract cleaning organisations which specialise in the education sector take full advantage of access to empty areas to deep clean floors and restore surfaces affected by heavy footfall. Not only does a sparkling school provide optimal learning conditions and reduce absenteeism, but it also helps to attract new students and assist with the recruitment and retention of the best teachers. Cleanliness can even have an impact on Oftsted inspections, with pristine facilities being noted in official reports.

Cleaning challenges 

Many different types of dirt are brought into educational settings every single day. Students, staff and visitors bring with them soil, sand and grit, while other substances such as asphalt, oil and grease can be easily brought into a building, causing floors to become dirty, unsightly and even hazardous. Add to this the dropping of litter, chewing gum and the spilling of food or drink and it becomes obvious that any flooring in an educational setting has to be given appropriate care and attention. 

Periodic deep cleans outside of term involve more intense floor care work. The variety of flooring materials used in schools and the level of damage has an influence on the type of cleaning equipment and techniques that are needed to clean each surface thoroughly and hygienically. Carpeting may be favoured for offices and staff rooms, while vinyl or synthetic materials prove popular in corridors, classrooms, canteens, dining halls, washrooms and other communal areas. Gyms, sports halls, changing rooms and shower areas require specialist flooring with a definite emphasis on safety, whilst wood floor in the assembly hall, will also need specific maintenance. 

A sticky situation 

Chewing gum’s sticky properties are particularly difficult to remove, and it is one of the main challenges when cleaning schools. Chewing gum is often trampled into carpets and stuck to the underside of tables. There are a variety of ways to remove chewing gum from surfaces, some are more effective than others. These include using a steam cleaning machine with a chewing gum solvent remover, applying ice to turn the chewing gum rigid before peeling it off, and high pressure jet washing.

Health and safety

Rigorous health and safety systems should be in place to ensure cleaners, staff and pupils are not put at risk. The area that needs to be cleaned should be carefully researched and audited before any cleaning is undertaken, to make sure the right techniques are used. Environmental, quality and occupational health and safety management systems used by the contract cleaner should be independently assessed. This commitment gives schools confidence in the quality and reliability of the cleaning. Use of pure water systems, microfibre cloths and diamond encrusted twister pads all help to reduce or even eliminate the need for chemical cleaning agents. And where cleaning products are required, chemical free ranges provide the same level of results as those with chemicals.


Security is essential within the school environment. Commercial organisations providing services to schools, such as contract cleaning, need to be vetted in the same way as any other staff working within schools. While some organisations settle for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, these are useless if the ID in question is fake, because fictitious people will not appear on criminal records. 


When recruiting staff, Julius Rutherfoord use facial recognition techniques and passport and identity document scanning technology, similar to that used by Customs personnel at international airports. This technology enables imposters and fake passports or ID documents to be identified in seconds, and guarantees a 100% legal workforce.

In addition, biometric time & attendance systems ensure only the right personnel enter educational premises. Employees log in and out with a biometric finger reading, or a short phone call from a dedicated line within the school premises that is linked automatically to a time and attendance system. This also ensures that the right people deliver the right cleaning and schools get the exact level of service they have paid for.