When the ribbons were cut and the VIPs walked around new schools constructed for the £400m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, many didn’t know about the hidden band of heroes who gave these education centres their gleaming first impression.
It takes hundreds of man hours and a large team of staff to clean a school and give it its all-important gloss; scrubbing thousands of square feet after the builders have gone, shortly before the owners get their first proper look around.
One of the companies which have put in a herculean effort to spruce up these schools before they are opened is Kingston Cleaning Services (KCS). KCS was set up about 40 years ago, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week to clean everything from building sites to casinos and shopping centres.
On the BSF project, KCS has had to fit in with the fast-paced final stages of a school build, as they did recently to add the final touches to Andrew Marvell College. The company has also worked on Winifred Holtby and Tweendykes Schools, Thomas Ferens Academy, Malet Lambert Language College, Kingswood Academy and Endike School.
“We carry out our work at a number of crucial stages,” said Sean Carrison, KCS’s managing director. “The first clean is important and happens before the public ever see a new building. During this stage, we get rid of any debris which is still around – caused by anything up to a year of construction work – which then allows contractors to check all aspects of a project and make sure there aren’t any last minute problems which need ironing out
Once this is done, KCS then needs to arm its engineers with a wide range of cleaning tools and machinery – this means everything from a bucket and mop to jet washes and motorised platforms. These platforms lift specially-trained staff some 30 metres in the air to make sure external aspects of the building look the part.
Sean said: “We have to be able to respond to any eventuality – whether that is a last-minute clean ahead of an important site visit, or to clear the way for building checks. You can’t simply sit there and plan everything when it comes to putting together a new building. This means we have, for instance, worked from 5.30am to 12.30am the next day to meet the needs of the project.
“But when the job is all finished there is quite a sense of achievement, especially when the site team praises your work. It is great to have become part of the BSF scheme.
Like any new build work, it is an effort you shouldn’t take lightly, but one which is incredibly rewarding – it is great to know when one of these fantastic buildings is unveiled that you and your team have played their part.”