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Gloucester students lose cleaning jobs at High School for Girls

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

High School for Girls

High School for Girls

Comments (5)

STUDENTS are in uproar after their school gave them the brush off from their cleaning jobs.

The 34 High School for Girls sixth formers have been laid off from their after-hours work at the school.

The pupils said they valued the work because it maximised time available to them to study at weekends.

But they have been told the school could get a better deal from a professional service from Gloucestershire County Council.

So from April 1, all 34 of them will be out of a job.

“We had a meeting with the school on Thursday and they explained that because of money and the quality of cleaning, we wouldn’t be doing it anymore,” said the group’s spokesman.

“From April 1 we are out of a job. They are getting contractors in instead. We don’t want this to happen – most of us are Year 13 and we will have no work to help us pay for university.”

They said the students are paid £7.19 an hour, with 18 of them cleaning for a few hours a night during the 36 weeks of the school term.

“It’s been going for quite a while and I know other schools do it,” said the spokesman.

“Having this job means there is no travel time and gives us free time at weekends to study.

“We take pride in our work because it’s our school and the teachers tell us we do a good job in keeping the buildings looking clean and tidy.”

The school’s chairman of governors, Stephen MacMillan, explained the change is being made because the school must scrutinise every service it pays for.

“Shire Hall’s cleaning service offers a professional service that represents better value,” he said.

“Factors include quality, but also deep cleans. Currently we don’t get cleaning in the school holidays and overheads like equipment. We have not taken this decision lightly.”

Mr McMillan is a Conservative county councillor for Mid Dean and denied there was a conflict of interest.

“I’m not the only person who makes that decision,” he said.

“It’s made by a committee and I am not the chair of that.”

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5 comments

  • MissTGlos94  |  February 08 2013, 2:34PM

    This comes of no surprise to me. I am a former pupil and cleaner at the High School, and whilst I was there it was evident that this was to come. No matter how hard the cleaners worked, it was never good enough. On many occasion, even if understaffed for any reason, the cleaners would always put in 110%; especially on events such as parents evenings and open evenings. The place would be immaculate, and many of the teachers praised the cleaners saying how clean it looked. However, there were always complaints from SLT staff; mainly the Head and the deputy head. They were never pleased, they could get out there white glove and find no speck of dust, yet something would still be wrong. To save the school money one year, the cleaners did a deep clean of the school over the holidays. They were given one week to get the whole campus looking spick and span. With a chance of sounding biased now, I believed it looked very good; better than some years with a proper cleaning company. Everything was pulled out to be cleaned and mopped, some of the floors looked nearly new, but much to our disappointment, the head said the place looked as though it hadn't been touched. As for this new service supposedly being "better value", it just isn't going to happen. The students are paid £7.19 an hour, which I believe is a fair rate. However, outside contractors are going to cost sufficiently more, and won't take as much **** as the cleaners did and still do from the senior members of staff. For the two years as a cleaner, there was probably only one time that the head said 'thank you' or 'well done' for our efforts. Every other time, there were complaints for some reason or another. I think this is disgraceful, and what little respect I had left for the school after my time there had now gone completely out of the window. They know how much these jobs mean to students, and how much rubbish they have to put up with. I wish the "new and better" cleaners the best of luck; they're going to need it.

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  • Andyman123  |  February 06 2013, 8:30AM

    Typical conservatives. Disgraceful.

    Rate   4
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  • Willow_Wisp  |  February 06 2013, 6:53AM

    I'm sure my opinion is not going to be popular (cue the red arrows)....and I do feel for these students...but... In my job, I have to be careful about how I do it, what I do, and work to the best of my ability - or i can expect to be replaced by someone else. That is the way life works, unfortunately. it's business. Now - I do NOT agree with the way the school have gone about this - to treat your students as competitors with a prefessional service smacks of poor judgement, however I can't blame them for doing what they have done. The school needs it to be right, and at the right cost. Of course, what the students need to do now is what any company in their position would do. Not shy away, go grumpy and lick their wounds...but work together and come up with a counter-proposal that the school simply can not refuse. After all - even Shire Hall cleaning services are not cheap (irrelevant as to how I know this) - so the students shouldn't have much difficulty in undercutting the "professionals". I know this will not be popular, but this is simply the way business is done. Sad, but true. And the school is a business. And the team of students involved need to treat it like one and become one themselves. Isn't that partly what school is about? Preparing the students for the "World Out There"? Again, I don't agree with the way the school have gone about this - but the students can come up trumps here with a little work.

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  • Ysedra  |  February 05 2013, 11:16AM

    A 'better deal from a professional service from GCC'? A better 'deal', I'm sure, but service..?

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  • Ca_b123  |  February 05 2013, 9:53AM

    As a former HSFG student and cleaner, this is very upsetting but comes as little of a surprise. The scheme was brilliant, providing students with, in many cases, their first jobs and actual work experience - this was invaluable to me and many others. Schools have a duty to their students first and foremost, and this should be prioritised way over keeping costs down, which seems to be the main concern of the so-called 'Academy' schools (such as HSFG) that Michael Gove intends to be run like businesses. When business mixes with the education system, good ideas such as that of student cleaners invariably lose out, which is very sad. The influence of the council and the Conservatives on this decision is self-evident.

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