September marks the start of autumn and as the season changes, children across the country return to school and the new term begins. During this time schools are a hive of activity and this presents unique challenges with regards to cleaning duties. 

As the Soft Services Manager for five schools across Redcar, my role is primarily customer-focused. This involves building relationships and overseeing a team of dedicated staff who maintain a welcoming environment to encourage development and learning. From classrooms and staff rooms to the dinner hall, PE department and toilets, areas are often heavily occupied throughout the day and keeping the school premises clean and tidy can be challenging.

No two days are the same. With the service contract stipulating what the team’s remit and responsibilities are, it does not serve as a limitation to our involvement. We have a flexible approach and have worked with our client to develop, support and maintain an agreed service that improves the effectiveness of the schools. 

Cleanliness and hygiene are essential for the health and safety of students and staff. Cleaning takes place when the schools are empty – we work effectively and efficiently as we have limited time to get everything ready for the next day. The pupils and teachers arrive, use the premises all day, and the cycle continues throughout the school semester.

Back to school: Soft Services Manager Kerry Ord hard at work in a previous role at Chester le Street Hospital with the team.

The summer holidays are a great opportunity to conduct a deep clean of the premises to a professional standard and tackle the bigger, more time-consuming jobs. Many people think that during the summer months schools up and down the country are ghost towns. In one respect, they are – there are no children. However, for those who work in facilities management, it is our busiest time of the year. 

I have always enjoyed working in the soft services industry. The key to success is maintaining strong attention to detail, delivering a consistently high level of service and of course, I still enjoy getting my hands dirty! Cleaning, sorting, organising – I find it extremely satisfying to see order restored. And working on a Saturday to get the schools ready for the students to return after the summer holidays – it’s a labour of love. 

Robertson is an integral part of the schools we work in. I am proud to have a positive impact by maintaining the facilities to the highest standard, ensuring pupils can gain the most from their educational experience.


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