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      ‘A clean sweep for education’

                            DECEMBER 2007

I always used to officiate at school prize days in assembly halls adorned with golden
honours lists of past pupils, who had achieved wonderful things. After due
congratulations the slant of my speech was to intimate 'it's alright for you clever lot,
but what is the use of a brain surgeon without nurses and cleaning staff to support
them or secretaries to do the spade work for a judge?’

My first jobs were as a dustbin man and then as an apprentice plumber. It was at this
time that the importance of the unassuming support workers came home to roost and
that is why I am now so proud to be the President of British Institute of Cleaning
Science and pleased to officiate at the annual CLEANEST GREENEST SCHOOL
COMPETITION awards. The most satisfying aspect of life is being part of a team
that enables society to work, and cleanliness in the home, school and workplace is of
extreme importance.

What is more, cleaning is so essential that it can be and should be interwoven in the
school curriculum. It is history, science and social science with not only the rude bits
left in but how the rude bits were taken out. Take a look at art and literature down the
ages and it is there to see and read. Furthermore, with rural science coming back into
the syllabus and the increased promotion of locally produced food cutting back on
food miles, I can only guess what’s around the corner.

I am in favour of any move that raises the profile of cleaning in schools and fully
support this review and its objectives of improving standards.

David Bellamy

(Professor David Bellamy is the President of BICS and promotes cleanliness in
education through his Environmental Cleanliness Awards, which encourage primary
school children to become involved in making the environment a cleaner, healthier,
more inviting and safer place.)

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   REPORT SUMMARY                                  6

   1. INTRODUCTION                                 9

   2. TERMS OF REFERENCE                          10

   3. CONTEXT                                     13

   4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY                        19

   5. SERVICE ACTIVITIES                          25

   6. STAFFING                                    41

   7. PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS                 53


   9. APPRAISAL OPTIONS                           65

   10. PARTNERSHIP ARRANGEMENTS                   68

   11. EQUALITY ISSUES                            75

   12. SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL                     81

   13. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS                 87



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APPENDIX             TITLE

 1                   Best Value Project Board

 2                   Project Initiation Document

 3                   Central Steering Team

 4                   Consultation Working Group

 5                   Staffing and Operational Activities Working Group

 6                   Finance and Procurement Working Group

 7                   Partnership Arrangement Working Group

 8                   Consultation Meetings

 9                   Survey Questionnaires

10                   Schools and Organisations Surveyed

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APSE         Association for Public Service Excellence
ASB          Aggregated Schools Budget
BELB         Belfast Education and Library Board
BICS         British Institute of Cleaning Science
CCT          Compulsory Competitive Tendering
CEC          Central Expenditure Costs
CMSU         Central Management Support Unit for Education and Library Boards
COSHH        Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
COSO         Coalition on Sexual Orientation
CST          Central Steering Team
C2K          Classroom 2000 Project
DDA          Disability Discrimination Act
DE           Department of Education for Northern Ireland
DID          Delivery and Innovation Division
EFQM         European Foundation for Quality Management
ELB          Education and Library Board
EQIA         Equality Impact Assessment
ESA          Education and Skills Authority
ETI          Education and Training Inspectorate
EU           European Union
FM           Facilities Management
IiP          Investor in People
KPI          Key Performance Indicator
LMS          Local Management of Schools
MIS          Management Information System
MPI          Management Performance Indicator
NEELB        North Eastern Education and Library Board
NI           Northern Ireland
NIAO         Northern Ireland Audit Office
NICEM        Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities
OGC          Office of Government Commerce
OHSAS        Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Service
OJE          Official Journal of the European Union
PAT          Portable Appliance Testing
PFI          Private Finance Initiative
PID          Project Initiation Document
PPP          Public Private Partnership
PRINCE 2     Projects in a Controlled Environment
RPANI        Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland
SEELB        South Eastern Education and Library Board
SELB         Southern Education and Library Board
SLA          Service Level Agreement
SPSS         Statistical Package for Social Sciences
TUPE         Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)
WELB         Western Education and Library Board

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The Central Management Support Unit began the fundamental review of the
Education and Library Boards’ Building Cleaning Services in January 2007. This
review makes recommendations for establishing a cleaning service in the proposed
Education and Skills Authority. The review has examined key aspects of the service
to identify strengths and examples of good practice and to highlight areas requiring
further development.

The main activities of the service are carried out in respect of internal cleaning of
schools, branch libraries, controlled youth clubs and other educational estate. It is
important to remember that the service operates in a changing environment within the
constraints of limited resources. Total service expenditure is approximately 1.7% of
the Education and Library Boards’ combined annual recurrent budgets.

The review has been carried out using Best Value principles, through a process of
Challenge, Compare, Consult and Compete, and in accordance with Projects in a
Controlled Environment methodology. The process of gathering and examining
qualitative information and statistical data, in conjunction with the consultations
undertaken, has informed the findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Through this process of examining and consulting, a number of key findings have
been made, which are detailed in the following chapters:
• Service Activities
• Staffing
• Public Private Partnerships
• Financial Management and Procurement
• Appraisal Options
• Partnership Arrangements
• Equality Issues
• Service Delivery Model

Funding for cleaning in Northern Ireland is delegated directly to schools, which can
then decide on their choice of service provider. Comparisons with Great Britain show
that, in the main, in GB the budget is held centrally by local education authorities and
cleaning of schools and other properties is carried out solely by the authorities’ in-
house services. This system has facilitated a strategic approach to planning,
investment, resource utilisation, quality control and efficiency savings within the
Cleaning Service.

In Northern Ireland it is evident that government thinking is geared towards supported
autonomy, with maximum delegation of budgets to schools. With this in mind the
review team acknowledges the importance of choice in order to ensure competition
and to promote the delivery of quality and value for money services.

Based on the evidence and research undertaken, it is a key recommendation of this
report that a Northern Ireland-wide single Cleaning Service be established within the
Education and Skills Authority, accessible to all schools that wish to purchase its
services. Establishment of a single service would enable a range of benefits to be
delivered, including:

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•   Standardisation and consistency of service, including effective monitoring of
    quality standards across all schools and educational estate
•   A choice of options, tailored to schools’ needs, in accordance with the move to
    supported autonomy
•   A strategic approach taken to cleanliness in schools and the promotion of good
    hygiene practices
•   Access by all schools to a central core of expertise and the provision of advice and
•   A reduction in the administrative burden on schools, and in particular for
•   The delivery of economies of scale to improve value for money and the increase
    the effective use of scarce resources
•   An increase in collaboration between schools e.g. sharing of cleaning teams and
•   The availability of value-added and specialist Cleaning Services
•   The delivery of effective training and development of staff
•   The ability to market and promote the service, reaching out to and recruiting from
    all sections of the community

In addition to the Cleaning Service, the review examined the potential for setting-up a
facilities management structure to deliver a range of integrated support services to
schools and other educational estate. The establishment of a single Cleaning Service
would facilitate such an approach.

In light of the findings, the review team has reached a series of conclusions that
describe the existing Cleaning Services within the Education and Library Boards.
These conclusions have been classified as strengths and areas for development.
Examples of which are listed below:

9 The service is highly valued and contributes to education at a strategic level
9 A majority of schools receive a good or very good Cleaning Service
9 There are high levels of customer satisfaction with cleaning
9 The service helps to reduce the administrative burden on schools
9 Good health and safety practices are adhered to across the service
9 The service has extensive knowledge of the activities and priorities of schools
9 Effective systems of accountability and reporting are in place
9 A good level of compliance with equality legislation is achieved

Areas for Development:
◙ There is the need to introduce an acceptable Cleaning Service standard that is
   applicable to all educational buildings
◙ Standardised monitoring procedures should be implemented in all locations to
   ensure the Cleaning Service standard is achieved and maintained
◙ Effective replacement cover procedures for absent staff are required
◙ Imbalances in the profile of the workforce should be addressed
◙ The planning process for new and refurbished buildings requires an input from the
   Cleaning Service

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It is anticipated that the proposed single Cleaning Service, through the adoption of
good practice, will build on and improve the current standard of cleaning across
schools in Northern Ireland. The report makes a number of recommendations to
ensure best value and delivery of a quality and value for money Cleaning Service.
These recommendations, which are summarised in chapter 13, are categorised under
the following headings:
• Strategic recommendations
• Scope and standards
• Value for money
• Public private partnerships
• Consultation with stakeholders

Members of the Central Management Support Unit would like to record their
appreciation and gratitude to all people who have participated in and contributed to
this review of Cleaning Services and expressed their honest and informed opinions.

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The Local Government Act 1999, introducing “best value”, came into effect on 1
April 2000 in England and Wales as part of the Government’s commitment to
modernise public services. The Act, which primarily centres around a culture of
continuous improvement with a focus on customers and quality, requires
organisations to be committed to and undertake a programme of “fundamental

In Northern Ireland (NI), similar legislation was introduced for District Councils in
April 2000. Formal arrangements came into effect for the education sector on 1 April
2003, through the Educations and Libraries (NI) Order 2003.

In anticipation of this legislation, coupled with a desire to deliver quality services,
Education and Library Boards (ELBs) entered into a voluntary arrangement in 1999 to
develop a comprehensive approach to managing best value in the education sector.

A Best Value Project Board was established (Appendix 1), the membership of which
includes senior officers from ELBs, the Department of Education (DE) and the
Classroom 2000 Project (C2K). Representatives with observer status include Trades
Unions and the Staff Commission. The Project Board agreed the broader terms of
reference for a Central Management Support Unit (CMSU). The CMSU is an inter-
board unit established in 1999 and its roles include co-ordinating the process of best
value and conducting a programme of fundamental service reviews across ELBs.

An agreed programme of service reviews was established on the basis of those
services which:
• Constitute significant spend;
• Are the subject of an independent or external enquiry e.g. Northern Ireland Audit
    Office (NIAO); and
• Also have a significant focus on schools.

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On 7th March 2006, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain MP,
announced the exemption of Cleaning Services in schools from transfer to private
sector contractors undertaking Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects. The
Secretary of State emphasised the importance of securing value for money in all
public services and that he intended to seek real efficiency gains from new public
sector arrangements for the cleaning staff. He then requested a review of the
Cleaning Services across the five ELBs to be undertaken with a view to ensuring that
there are efficient and effective arrangements in place, which offer maximum value
for money.

In response to this announcement, on 22nd September 2006, DE issued terms of
reference for a fundamental review of the building Cleaning Service to the ELBs.
The terms of reference were defined as follows:
• To clearly define the scope and standards of the building Cleaning Service;
    challenging and questioning the existing arrangements and producing meaningful
    comparisons and benchmarks, both internally and with other external providers
• To examine how current performance could be improved in value for money
    terms when considered as a whole service on a cross-board basis, and to anticipate
    how the service will operate on the implementation of the Review of Public
    Administration in Northern Ireland (RPANI) when cleaning staff will become the
    responsibility of a single employing authority under the proposed Education and
    Skills Authority (ESA), which is due to become operational in April 2009.
• To consider how the building Cleaning Service could be potentially delivered
    effectively alongside PPP contractors in schools, in particular interface
    arrangements and implications for costs
• To consult with key stakeholders; taking into account the requirements under
    Section 75 (Statutory Duty) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and make
    recommendations for the future management and delivery of the service

The scope of the review included:

Service Activities
• Scope of functions (core and non-core)
• Quality standards
• Service baselines
• Performance measurement
• Benchmarks and comparisons
• Value for money
• Fitness for purpose

• Staffing levels
• Productivity
• Recruitment and retention
• Training and skills
• Health and safety
• Attendance management

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•   Terms and conditions of service

Management and Supervision
• Structures
• Roles and responsibilities
• Communications
• Monitoring and control

Public Private Partnerships
• Transfer of risk
• Interfaces with schools and PPP contractors
• Potential benefits

• Levels and sources of funding
• Costs of service and unit costs
• Breakdown of expenditure
• Value for money
• Income generation
• Financial reporting systems
• Systems of reporting and accountability
• Financial indicators and targets
• Job evaluation

• ELB tendering arrangements
• Costs of purchasing
• Contract arrangements
• Value for money testing
• Sustainability

Appraisal Options
• Economic appraisal
• Qualitative appraisal

Equality Issues
• Compliance with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998
• Recruitment of people from minority groups

Partnership Arrangements
• Feasibility of in-house soft Facilities Management approach
• Suitability of services
• Comparisons with other providers
• Potential management and communications framework
• Potential benefits and drawbacks
Service Delivery Model
• Preferred model
• Marketing the service

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The review aims to identify strengths within the service, including examples of good
practice, and areas for development. Where an example of good practice is attributed
to a particular ELB, this does not preclude good practice in the same area in other
ELBs. Good practice is recognised in relation to positive feedback from customers
and stakeholders, adherence to sound management principles and for examples of
creativity or innovation.

To facilitate the review, a number of guiding principles have been agreed. These are:
• To identify and recommend best practice, from ELBs and other organisations
• To meet customer needs, where possible, at a local level
• To promote value for money in service delivery
• To ensure fitness for purpose of the building Cleaning Service

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3.1.1   Building Cleaning

There is an extensive renewal and refurbishment programme for educational estate
currently underway across NI. The Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane MLA,
recently stated ‘It is a pleasure to see the direct results of funding that is being
used for new school buildings. These new facilities will enhance the learning
environment of the pupils and will be reflected in their work.’ She went on to say
‘Bright and stimulating classrooms will assist in the nurture of confident,
creative and articulate children’. This report underlines the value of properly
maintaining and cleaning the educational estate and thereby protecting the substantial
investment in infrastructure.

ELBs have no statutory duty to provide a Cleaning Service to schools, although there
is a legal requirement for buildings to be clean, safe and fit for their purpose. Under
the Health and Safety at Work Order (NI) 1978 standards of health, safety and welfare
must be upheld with regard to pupils, staff, users and visitors. Senior ELB managers
have emphasised the strategic contribution of cleaning. ‘The Cleaning Service is an
integral part in the education of our children’. (Chief Executive, WELB)

Budgets for acquiring the service are provided through the Local Management of
Schools (LMS) funding formula. It is important to establish that schools currently
have an open choice as to their Cleaning Service provider. The decision is completely
at the discretion of a school’s principal and board of governors. This allows schools
to purchase the service from whichever source is considered to be most suitable.
Senior managers stress the need for the Cleaning Service to demonstrate quality of
service and value for money through benchmarking and performance measurement.

3.1.2 PPP

PPP is a government-driven initiative for the delivery of modernised public services
and infrastructure, where it represents value for money. The Private Finance Initiative
(PFI) is an element of PPP whereby, in education, the private sector designs, builds,
operates and finances a school and then leases back the school over a period of 25 to
30 years in exchange for regular payments. The benefits are that schools are built
without the need for capital money up-front and risks are appropriately shared
between the private and public sectors. As part of the arrangement, the private sector
provides a number of support services to the school, such as maintenance.
Underlying principles of PFI are founded on the search for sustained improvement
and quality of service delivery whilst achieving value for money.

A number of documents have been produced by the Treasury and the NI Assembly in
support of this initiative referring to the significance of delivering value for money as
part of the process. Government accounting defines value for money as ‘the
optimum combination of whole life cost and quality (or fitness for purpose) to
meet the user’s requirements’. The definition goes on to make clear that value for
money should not be assumed to mean the lowest cost option. The government only

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uses PFI where it can be shown to deliver value for money and does not come at the
expense of employees’ terms and conditions. In this respect, departments have
continued to retain the right not to transfer soft service employees to PFI projects.
According to the HM Treasury Report ‘PFI: strengthening long-term partnerships’,
March 2006, ‘soft services are seen as performing less well on average than other
elements of the PFI framework’.

Under the current Government the use of PPP has increased in the education sector in
NI. In pilot projects in schools, known as ‘pathfinders’, consortia from the private
sector have been contracted to provide a full range of support services including
maintenance, caretaking, catering and cleaning. In this type of scenario a school and
its ELB have to manage an interface with a particular consortium with regard to a
number of services and carry out a client role to ensure the required standards are
being achieved.

From March 2006, following announcements by the Secretary of State, the school
catering and building Cleaning Services have been left out of the functions provided
by private sector consortia within PPP schools. Although building cleaning has been
excluded from the delivery of PPP contracts in schools, it is essential that the service
demonstrates value for money through whichever method of delivery is chosen.


There is a wide range of service delivery methods for cleaning that are currently
employed across the NI education sector. This correlates to the high priority placed in
DE’s terms of reference on defining and challenging the arrangements. Building
cleaning has historically been delivered through a combination of local authority
provision and the schools employing their own cleaners. This provision has varied
from organisation to organisation. Across ELBs, the service has evolved at a local
level as a result of changing customer requirements and external factors (3.5). As part
of these arrangements, the caretaker (now referred to as building supervisor) has
normally been employed by the school to undertake duties, including cleaning, and
also had responsibility for supervising the cleaning staff. In smaller schools, the
building supervisor might be the only cleaner. Therefore the building supervisor has
traditionally played an important dual role for the school and the service. In contrast
to this, ELBs have employed cleaning site supervisors in some schools to oversee the
work of the cleaning staff.

ELBs also provide cleaning for some controlled youth clubs, branch libraries, board
centres and other educational estate.

Schools in the Voluntary Grammar, Grant Maintained Integrated and Irish Medium
sectors frequently make their own arrangements for cleaning. These arrangements
include using ELB services, employing their own cleaning staff or hiring private
sector companies.

The Education and Library Boards (NI) Order 1993 introduced Compulsory
Competitive Tendering (CCT) for a number of educational support services, including
building cleaning. The introduction of CCT led services to focus in great detail on
efficiencies, costs and service specifications to ensure they were able to compete with

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potential private sector contractors as part of the tendering process. The service in
each board was successful in winning the contract to deliver cleaning to the schools.

The Labour Government repealed CCT and launched the Best Value initiative, which
became a legal requirement for ELBs in 2003. Best Value differs from CCT in a
number of ways. It places emphasis on quality as well as cost, it applies to all
services within ELBs and it promotes the concept of continuous improvement as
opposed to more inflexible contract specifications. Best Value encourages services to
improve quality on a continuous basis through the adoption of the Charter Mark,
Investors in People (IiP) and the European Foundation for Quality Management
(EFQM) Business Excellence Model. In this less prescriptive environment, the
Cleaning Service is able to develop standards and processes that are tailored to
customers’ needs.

As part of the RPANI, the five ELB’s and other educational bodies will come together
to form the ESA. Within the ESA it will be necessary to amalgamate services on a NI
wide basis.


Factors impacting on the service come from two areas: internal and external.

3.3.1 Internal Factors
• Taking account of the need to develop a single service under the auspices of the
    ESA, it will be necessary to establish a degree of consistency and coherence in
    a number of areas. The service will be required to ascertain baselines of current
    performance as a starting point and to enable improvements to be measured.
    These baselines will include areas such as productivity, customer satisfaction
    levels and unit costs. It is envisaged that a range of performance indicators will be
    developed in line with these areas as part of the review process.
• Consideration will also be given to the effective use of appropriate management
    information systems to facilitate the management and measurement of
    performance. These systems may be employed with regard to attendance
    management, performance monitoring, accident-reporting and complaints
• In addition, a single service will need to develop common standards in respect of
    staff training, health and safety procedures, customer service, corporate identity
    and terms and conditions of service.
• Key to long-term success is the ability to provide value for money to customers.
    This can be demonstrated through a combination of measuring performance,
    customer feedback, stakeholder consultation, retention of customer base and
• The job evaluation process is ongoing. It is important that this issue is resolved
    in a satisfactory manner to ensure that pay is commensurate with the roles and
    responsibilities of the job.
• Clarifying and agreeing the role of the building supervisor will be a challenge
    that is crucial to the success of the Cleaning Service. The building supervisor is
    normally managed by the school or PPP contractor, yet is an integral part of the
    service through supervision of the cleaning staff and, often, with an individual
    cleaning responsibility.

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It is appreciated that implementing change, as described, across a large service will
only be achieved through a systematic planning process and over a suitable period of

3.3.2   External Factors

From an external perspective, the service is facing a series of major service and
contextual challenges, including:
• The RPANI leading to the ESA and subsequently a single Cleaning Service,
   which will require restructuring of the service to cater for a larger area of
   operations, effective communication systems and meeting the needs of a wider
   customer base, yet maintaining a local aspect to service delivery. The
   establishment of the ESA is presently at the planning stage and, inevitably, there
   is a lack of clarity in relation to organisational structure and locations. However,
   the purpose of the ESA to enhance the capability of schools and other education
   providers to deliver high quality education and raise standards and support the
   continued development of a highly skilled and motivated workforce. In addition
   to the ESA, it is proposed to establish a Library Authority for NI.
• The Bain Report ‘The Independent Strategic Review of Education’ 2006,
   adopted as policy in NI by the Secretary of State, Peter Hain MP, makes
   recommendations with regard to funding, strategic planning, area based planning
   and sharing and collaborating. The results are likely to be seen through
   rationalisation of the educational estate, collegiate arrangements and the sharing
   of resources between schools. These results will inevitably impact on support
   services to schools, including the cleaning function.
• The Extended Schools and Full Service Schools Programmes, presently being
   rolled-out in NI, will have an effect through a greater requirement for cleaning and
   supervision as a result of increased usage and longer operating hours for schools.
   These may influence the current work patterns, costs and the recruitment and
   retention of staff.
• Equality legislation, and in particular adherence to Section 75 of the NI Order
   1998, requires the public sector to consult with specified groups, ensure equality
   of opportunity and monitor compliance.
• There is currently a drive towards ‘supported autonomy’ for schools, in which
   the funding of education is likely to become less centralised through the ESA.
   This reduces the level of money retained at centre, which might have an effect on
   any guaranteed funding for the Cleaning Service from year to year and reduce the
   incentives for future investment in equipment and training.
• PPP will bring about multi-interfaces in relation to the management of schools
   and services between the school, PPP contractor and in-house services. It will be
   important to have transparent and open dialogue, build good relations and agree
   clear boundaries and areas of responsibility for each party.
• On a day-to-day basis the Cleaning Service is subject to competition from
   companies within the private sector. Schools are free to select private sector
   providers to deliver their cleaning. As such, it is important that exemption from
   the PPP contracts does not lead to complacency and that the service strives to
   deliver value for money.
• A report by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), in December
   2005, highlighted the skill shortages and problems of recruitment and

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                       16
retention in the cleaning, catering and janitorial services. The report identifies
      lack of investment in training, a perception of lowly status and competition for
      staff from other sources in the private and public sectors. A means of addressing
      these difficulties might be for organisations to adopt a ‘soft’ Facilities
      Management (FM) approach, thereby increasing full-time posts, enriching jobs
      and eliminating the perceived stigma attached to cleaning.
•     Environmental aspects of the Cleaning Service are increasing in priority. It is
      necessary to deliver a ‘green’ agenda and set a good example in complying with
      legislation and best practice in the disposal of waste, energy usage and noise

This fundamental review is being carried out against the background of these
environmental factors. Therefore it is important that recommendations are made,
which take account of the likely implications of these developments


In each ELB, the Cleaning Service undertakes planning within the overall corporate
framework. Strategic aims and objectives are aligned to those of the organisation
through the delivery of a quality service and by contributing to a safe and healthy
learning environment. Examples of these aims include ‘to supply and maintain a
quality driven Cleaning Service that will contribute to an effective teaching and
learning environment, which is both safe and clean for staff, pupils, teachers and
visitors’ and ‘to continually strive to improve the levels of service provided through a
process of implementing quality or by adding value. Our goal is the provision of

In support of these high level aims, common operational objectives have been
established in relation to:
• Customer care
• Productivity
• Protecting the environment
• Continuous improvement of service
• Training and development of staff

Planning and objective setting are cascaded throughout the organisations by means of
an appraisal process, in which members of managerial and supervisory staff are made
aware of their responsibilities and contribution to the overall success of the service
through their respective cleaning teams.


3.5.1    Staffing Arrangements

Staffing levels employed by individual ELBs vary as a result of the different cleaning
arrangements that have been established. In the Western Education and Library
Board (WELB) all cleaning staff are direct employees of the Board, whereas in the
Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) nearly all staff are employed by
schools. A significant minority of these schools operate under the ‘Belbclean’
arrangement, whereby the board’s Cleaning Service provides extensive advice,

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                        17
support and training and does not directly employ or manage the cleaning staff. The
remaining ELBs have a mixture of school and board employed staff, as detailed in
Tables 1 and 2. Further staffing details are given in chapter 6.

3.5.2 Staffing Levels
The Cleaning Service is a major support function in education, covering all locations
and employing a large number of staff. Tables 1 and 2 provide details of total
locations and employees working for schools and for the ELBs’ central services.

Table 1: Number of cleaning staff employed at controlled and maintained schools
         and other locations managing their own Cleaning Service
      ELB              Schools and Locations                Cleaning Staff
 Belfast                                      104                            317
 North Eastern                                244                            262
 South Eastern                                177                            396
 Southern                                     384                            620
 Western                                        0                              0
 Totals                                       909                          1,595
Source: ELBs

Table 2: Number of cleaning staff employed through ELBs’ central cleaning
      ELB             Schools and Locations               Cleaning Staff
 Belfast*                                      48                                     245
 North Eastern                                103                                     564
 South Eastern                                 52                                     270
 Southern                                      44                                     630
 Western                                      325                                   1,060
 Totals                                       592                                   2,769
Source: ELBs (* schools in the Belbclean arrangement)

3.5.3 Services Provided
The Cleaning Service provides a number of core functions for schools and other board
properties including:
• Daily, weekly and monthly cleaning tasks of classrooms, corridors, toilets and
    other areas
• Annual summer clean
• Training for staff in cleaning techniques, health and safety and supervision
• Advice and assistance in relation to recruitment, cleaning surveys, equipment
    procurement, safe use of materials and other aspects
• Additional cleaning for specific occasions e.g. school open days

With regard to the training element, this is mainly carried out in accordance with
standards for educational buildings, as defined by the British Institute of Cleaning
Science (BICS). However, not all ELBs use the BICS accreditation process. Training
is also provided, for example by BELB, to external organisations in the public and
private sectors, as a source of income generation.
In addition to the core functions, the service offers limited specialist activities such as
external window cleaning (SELB) and training for building supervisors (all ELBs).

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The purpose of a fundamental review is to improve the quality of services delivered
with regard to efficiency, effectiveness and economy. This is achieved by firstly
identifying areas for development and, secondly, by sourcing examples of good
practice that can be disseminated and adopted.

The methodology followed the “four Cs” approach of Challenge, Compare, Consult
and Compete, drawing on the experience of previous service reviews carried out by
ELBs and the CMSU.

With regard to developments elsewhere, best value is changing in Great Britain from
a ‘procedural’ regime to a more flexible approach, deployed as appropriate within
organisations. The new process relates to inform, consult, involve and devolve. This
is a recent development and, therefore, the review of cleaning has followed the
traditional “four Cs” methodology.

The Best Value Project Board approved the methodology and the management of
the project undertaken in accordance with government recommendations, using the
Projects in a Controlled Environment (PRINCE 2) system. As part of this process a
Project Initiation Document (PID) was produced (Appendix 2) detailing project
objectives, scope, terms of reference, structure, risk log and timetable.

A Central Steering Team (CST) was established (Appendix 3), the membership of
which included service managers from each ELB, officers from Equality, Finance,
Health and Safety, Procurement and CMSU plus representatives from the Delivery
and Innovation Division of the Department for Finance and Personnel. The service
manager from South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) chaired the CST.

In addition, four sub-groups were formed to manage the detailed workings of the
review in specific areas:
• The Consultation Group (Appendix 4) was chaired by the service manager from
    BELB with the deputy chair from WELB and comprised representatives from
    school principals, school bursars, suppliers, CMSU, equality officer from the
    North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) and best value officer from
    SEELB and corporate development officer from WELB.
• The Staffing and Operational Activities Group (Appendix 5) was chaired by the
    service manager from WELB with deputy chair from the Southern Education and
    Library Board (SELB) and included representatives from cleaning staff in all
    ELBs, health and safety manager from BELB, corporate development officer from
    NEELB and CMSU.
• The Finance and Procurement Group (Appendix 6) incorporated finance and
    procurement officers from NEELB, best value officer from SEELB, corporate
    development officer from SELB and CMSU. The group was chaired by the direct
    service organisation manager from NEELB with deputy chair from SELB.
• The Partnership Arrangement Group (Appendix 7) was chaired by the head of
    CMSU and comprised building cleaning manager from SELB, facilities manager
    from BELB, grounds maintenance manager from WELB, school catering manager
    from SELB, transport manager from SELB, best value representative from BELB
    and CMSU.

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                    19
The role of the four sub-groups, in conjunction with the CMSU, was to compile and
evaluate information and to update the CST at each stage of the review, in addition to
critically challenging how the service is delivered.

External validation of the review was provided by the Delivery and Innovation
Division (DID) of the Department of Finance and Personnel. Members of the DID
joined the Project Board and the CST for the duration of the review.


The process of challenge underpins the approach to best value reviews. It marks the
beginning of the review and sets the scene for what follows by way of
recommendations, whilst instilling discipline in the thought process. The inherent
challenge aspect of a review is to determine whether the service, or aspects of that
service, should be provided at all, or could be delivered in an alternative way.

Within the best value concept, service providers strive to achieve continuous
improvement through a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
Without the element of challenge there can be no effective review, as it is the key to
significant improvements in performance and without it, the service is unlikely to
establish meaningful targets.

Challenging why and how a service is provided requires a fundamental rethink,
asking basic yet challenging questions about the needs that each service is intended to
address and method of procurement used. Therefore, challenge is intrinsically tied up
with the elements of competition, comparison and consultation.

The stages of challenge examined:
• Why is the service provided?
• How is the service configured?
• Can the service be delivered differently?
• What are the constraints?
• Are there different means of resourcing the service?
• How does this service relate to others?

Challenge was undertaken at all stages of the review, in relation to the scrutiny of the
CST, the investigations of the working groups, undertaking comparisons, throughout
the consultation process and in specific meetings and workshops.

4.2    COMPARE

The comparison stage entailed gathering data both internally from ELBs and
externally from similar service providers. As in previous reviews, templates were
agreed for the presentation of both statistical and financial data as a means of
simplifying the collection and comparison of information across ELBs.

Criteria were agreed by the CST to help to identify suitable organisations for external
comparison. These included organisations from the public and private sectors.

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                        20
This element of the review compares inputs, processes and outputs with similar
service providers. Comparisons are made with regard to standards and types of
service and levels of resources.

A discrete set of performance indicators has been agreed by the service managers, as a
means of carrying out comparisons on a like-for-like basis across the ELBs and as a
measure of performance for a single service within the ESA. Establishment of
performance indicators will also, over a period of time, provide trends and should
produce evidence of continuous improvement. The performance indicators, agreed as
part of the review, relate to core areas of service:
• Productivity (m2 cleaned per hour)
• Unit cost (£ per m2 cleaned)
• Overall customer satisfaction
• Quality standards adhered to
• Absenteeism levels and the cost of absence
• Staff turnover
• Staff training
• Number of reported accidents

Performance indicators must be quantifiable, relevant to service outcomes, relate to
industry standards and contain a combination of customer-facing (e.g. cost and
quality) and operational measures (e.g. absenteeism and training).

4.3    CONSULT

The concept of consultation and customer involvement supports the current drive
towards best value. Listening to and involving users of services in making
improvements, setting standards and reviewing services is fundamental to the process.

The CST approved the consultation strategy proposed by the Consultation Group. As
part of the strategy, the Consultation Group identified a list of stakeholders as well as
appropriate methodologies for consulting the various groups.

The key stakeholders comprised a wide range of individuals and organisations. The
groups are listed below by category:
• Core (schools, libraries, youth clubs, board centres, operational cleaning staff,
   administrative support staff, cleaning managers, pupils, parents, users and
• Others Education (senior managers, service managers, ELB support staff, further
   education institutes and building supervisors)
• Others Non-education (equality umbrella organisations, local authorities, trades
   unions and health trusts)

Quantitative and qualitative data were obtained to identify emerging themes regarding
quality, cost and utilisation of the service. A cross analysis of the data was
undertaken to provide a comprehensive picture of the feedback. As such, this report
is representative of the views expressed by stakeholders.

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                         21
A number of quantitative terms, as employed by the DE, are used in the report in
relation to the consultation feedback. In percentages, the terms correspond as follows:
• More than 90% - nearly all
• 75-90% - most
• 50-74% - a majority
• 30-49% - a significant minority
• 10-29% - a minority
• Less than 10% - very few

4.3.1   Qualitative Research

A programme of semi-structured interviews was held with a wide range of
stakeholders and provided a great deal of qualitative information. This included 26
school visits and 35 other meetings and focus groups. (Detailed lists of the
stakeholders involved can be found in Appendix 8.)

Key themes to be addressed, as part of the consultation exercise, were identified as
• Service baselines (quality, consistency, reliability and cost)
• Staffing issues
• Improving the service
• Customer satisfaction
• Value for money
• Development of a single service
• Equality issues
• Financial and non-financial resources
• Potential for adopting a soft FM approach

The above themes formed the basis of the consultation survey with schools and were
used as the agenda for discussions with other core stakeholders through the meetings
and focus groups. Findings of the consultation process are included in the relevant
sections of the report and have been contextualised to give appropriate and
representative weight to the feedback.

4.3.2   Quantitative Research

A key part of the consultation involved surveys to collect quantitative data from
schools. This quantitative data was gathered from surveys (Appendix 9) of a
representative sample of one third of schools within each ELB area. The surveys,
targeting school principals, school governors, cleaning staff, pupils and parents, were
distributed to 483 schools during March 2007 and returned by the end of May.

Additional surveys were carried out of 40 branch libraries, 40 youth clubs and 15
ELB centres, seeking information from the head of the establishment and a number of
users. A survey of 16 suppliers to the Cleaning Service was also undertaken. A list
of all organisations that participated in the surveys is attached (Appendix 10).

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                          22
All questionnaires were returned to CMSU and analysed using the Statistical Package
for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. From the surveys, an overall response rate of
33% was attained. Table 3 gives a detailed breakdown of individual responses.

Table 3: Survey Response Rates
          Category                  Number           Number           Response Rate
                                    Issued*          Returned             (%)
School Principals                          483               205                  42
School Governors                         1,296               266                  21
Cleaning Staff                           1,472               437                  30
Pupils                                   4,330             1,719                  40
Parents                                  4,830             1,234                  26
Branch Librarians                           40                28                  70
Library Users                              400               273                  68
Senior Youth Workers                        40                 9                  23
Youth Club Users                           400               125                  31
Heads of ELB Centre                         15                 8                  53
ELB Centre Users                           150                75                  50
Suppliers                                   16                 9                  56
Overall Total                           13,472             4,388                  33
Source: CMSU

* A set number of questionnaires for cleaning staff were issued to each school, which
might have exceeded the number of respondents within each establishment, thereby
reducing the maximum response rate.

Summaries of the results have been produced on a Northern Ireland aggregate basis,
highlighting the position for ELBs in total. Percentage results within the report refer
to the valid responses from those respondents to which the various questions apply.

It is acknowledged that the response rate from cleaning staff was disappointing,
particularly as the recommendations of the review could have a major impact on that
group. However, feedback was also obtained from staff at the school visits. On a
positive note, higher rates of responses were obtained from several other groups, such
as principals, pupils and library users.

4.4    COMPETE

The CST considered the issue of competition and identified two distinct elements.

Firstly, there is competition from a variety of sources within the private sector. On a
daily basis the Cleaning Service must compete with private sector cleaning
contractors. There are many strong points within private sector organisations such as
marketing, cost control, professional approach and the need to provide quality and
satisfy customers to ensure their survival. Relevant facts and figures have been
sought from the private sector, which are often viewed as commercially sensitive
information. Nevertheless, comparative information has been obtained throughout the
review in areas of recruitment, training, terms and conditions of service, pay, value
for money, prices, health and safety and communications.

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The cleaning element within a school budget does not identify or ring-fence an
amount of money to be spent on the service. In effect, schools can spend what they
see as appropriate on cleaning and, furthermore, can employ a service from any sector
as long as certain criteria are met, for example with regard to child protection, liability
insurance and health and safety.

The building Cleaning Service is also in competition with private sector cleaning
companies for the recruitment of suitable staff and it is necessary that prospective
employees perceive benefits for working in the public sector to counter this

Secondly, the Cleaning Service is required to be competitive through demonstrating
value for money, fitness for purpose, price of the service, productivity, quality of
managers and staff, standard of service and customer retention. Exemption from
PPP contracts does not preclude schools from choosing service providers from the
private sector nor does it guarantee the long-term security of the service. Only by
remaining competitive will those particular objectives be achieved.

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                           24


This chapter addresses the activities of the service. These activities relate to core and
non-core functions, service standards, working patterns and health and safety matters,
which can have strategic importance within education.

As part of the benchmarking process, information has been obtained about activities
of acknowledged best in class cleaning organisations (APSE Pursuing Excellence in
Local Government Volumes 1-3). Common features of these organisations are:
• Pro-active, innovative and good at managing change
• Ongoing consultation with customers and identification of their needs
• Achievement of quality standards e.g. Charter Mark and IiP
• Investment in staff, with training programmes to recognised standards

These elements of good practice were displayed, to a greater or lesser degree, across
the ELBs and their Cleaning Services.


In visits to schools all the participants stressed how much the service is valued and the
importance of cleaning to the delivery of education. It became apparent that cleaning
impacts strategically in a number of ways including:
• Clean schools and buildings facilitate a positive learning experience and
    contribute to the ethos and culture of the organisation
• A safe and healthy environment reassures parents, is considered essential to the
    wellbeing of staff and pupils (particularly those in the most vulnerable age groups)
    and endorses good hygiene practices.
• Promoting a positive image to parents and visitors is important to schools that are
    in competition for potential pupils and portrays a business-like approach. To
    quote a school principal ‘a clean school puts backsides on seats and backsides
    on seats result in an increased budget for the school’
• A clean building sets a good example to pupils to have respect for property and
    the environment and for the positive use of public facilities. This finding is
    supported by the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland in its document
    ‘Working Towards Healthy Schools’, which states that ‘the environment of the
    school provides pupils with hidden messages beyond the taught curriculum’.
• There are hidden costs of not cleaning to the necessary standard, such as
    deterioration of property and increased expenditure on maintenance, especially
    with older buildings
• Cleaning is intrinsic to the availability of buildings, particularly in the event of
    incidents such as burst pipes and acts of vandalism
• The importance of the Cleaning Service contributing at the planning stage of new
    buildings with regard to the installation of suitable floor and wall surfaces, the
    availability of secure and adequate storage and access to sufficient facilities e.g.
    sluice points, water supply and electrical sockets. The DE’s school building
    handbook does not currently incorporate these requirements.

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                         25
•     The need to recognise the overall importance of the service that is way beyond
      any observation of ‘just day to day cleaning’ and the role it plays in safeguarding
      the major investment in educational estate

Discussions with organisations outside of the education sector in NI reinforce these
findings through their commitment to and recognition of effective Cleaning Services.
A typical comment being ‘cleaning is seen as important to all aspects of
organisational success’.

These findings were further underlined through the outcomes of the surveys of school
principals, school governors, board centres, branch libraries, youth clubs, pupils,
parents and cleaning staff.

Nearly all principals and governors (99.0% and 99.2% respectively) agree that ‘a
clean school is an important contribution towards a positive learning environment’.

A majority of pupils agree that ‘a clean school helps me to concentrate on my lessons’
(71.0%) and most believe that ‘a clean school is important to me’ (85.2%)

Nearly all parents rate the following issues as important:
• ‘A clean school in contributing to a positive learning environment’ (96.7%)
• ‘A clean school in contributing to a healthy environment’ (99.3%)

Nearly all parents also agree that, in relation to their own schools:
• ‘The cleanliness of the school helps to create a positive learning environment’
• ‘The cleanliness of the school helps to promote a healthy environment’ (94.9%)
• ‘The standard of cleanliness presents a positive image of the school to visitors’

Most cleaning staff agree that:
• ‘A clean school helps pupils to learn more effectively’ (81.7%)
• ‘The Cleaning Service is valued within the school’ (77.3%)

In the remaining educational estate, nearly all customers (98.7% of board centres,
branch libraries and youth clubs) agree that a clean place of work contributes to a
more effective, enjoyable and healthy environment.

It is clear from the consultation process that cleaning is viewed as a strategically
important factor in the delivery of education and that inadequate cleaning practices
can have a negative impact in many ways. Taking account of this perspective, the
value of cleaning should be fully recognised by all parties in ELBs, the ESA and the
DE, including senior management. Raising the service profile and the awareness of
its strategic importance should be carried out through the lobbying of government to
guarantee adequate funding.


Although the various ELBs offer their Cleaning Services through different
mechanisms, there are certain functions that are common and these comprise:

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                         26
•   Providing a range of cleaning operations such as waste removal, dusting,
    sweeping, vacuum cleaning, mopping, scrubbing and polishing. These are
    normally divided into daily, weekly, monthly and periodic tasks and apply, for
    example, to reception areas, classrooms, corridors, stairs, toilets and changing
•   Management and supervision of people, finances and non-financial resources
•   Training and development of staff
•   Undertaking site surveys to determine the needs of each location in respect of
    cleaning hours, divisions of labour, work patterns and levels of equipment and
•   Monitoring procedures to maintain service standards
•   Providing ongoing advice and support to schools, libraries, youth clubs and
    education centres

Feedback from respondents of the surveys shows that most are satisfied with the
current levels of service (80%) and only a minority (11.0%) wishes to change these

Most members of cleaning staff ‘have adequate equipment and materials for the work
I do’ (84.5%) and nearly all state ‘I know what is expected of me at work’ (94.1%)
thereby, enabling them to carry out their core work. Anecdotal evidence from visits
to schools suggests a degree of dissatisfaction by staff with the effectiveness of
cleaning materials provided. In some instances, cleaners bring their own materials
such as bleach into schools, which should be discouraged as it is a violation of the
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.

The service operates an infection control system using colour coded equipment to
prevent cross contamination between, for example, toilet areas and classrooms.
Feedback from school visits indicates that in a minority of locations the system is not
always complied with and emphasises the importance of training.

The core functions have been designed over time to accommodate the needs of
customers and in most cases these needs are met. However difficulties have been
identified that need to be addressed to ensure fitness for purpose. These involve:
• Conflict over the role of building supervisors, employed by the school yet
    responsible for planning, organising and controlling the work of cleaners who are
    part of the ELB’s Cleaning Service
• The absence of clear and consistent monitoring systems within some ELBs and
    the importance of an objective and impartial system for measuring compliance
    with specified service standards
• The widespread practice of closing toilets during school opening hours, which can
    create embarrassment for pupils and contravene guidelines for the number of
    pupils per toilet, as detailed in the DE’s school building handbook
• Evidence of limited communications between the Cleaning Service and customers
    leading to lack of clarity regarding service standards, levels of advice and support
• Practices and initiatives creating additional work for cleaning staff, such as pupils
    dining in classrooms and after school activities

Fundamental Service Review: Building Cleaning                                        27
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