Dirty schools due to the cleaning cutbacks now pose health risks for both staff and pupils, one of the teaching unions has warned. Union representatives from over 600 schools all over Scotland participated in the EIS only survey, with 80% that said their schools have experienced a decline in either the quality or frequency of cleaning caused from budget cuts over the last three years.

Over 100 respondents also said that classrooms were dirty, and some even went as far as saying they are “disgusting” or “filthy”. About 120 people stated either other teacher colleagues or themselves had to clean their classrooms or other parts of their schools. 138 of the responses raised concerns associated with the hygiene and health in their schools caused by poor or inadequate cleaning.

Cleaners Work Beyond Their Usual Contracted Hours

Respondents stressed that the decline in cleanliness is definitely not the fault of the cleaners but rather to do with the decrease in the cleaning time they are provided with for each room. Some of the cleaners stated that they work overtime and (over their contracted commercial cleaning services hours) in order to ensure the classrooms are clean.

The union was also told that in some of the schools a number of days would pass without any cleaning carried out at all. The respondents also reported that vomit was not cleared away effectively, toilets smell and are not cleaned regularly, and bins are not emptied on a daily basis.

This survey also went onto discover that the cleaners are given less effective and cheaper products in order to clean with. In fact, in certain instances, the cleaners were only using water. Schools have to be cleaned correctly every day to ensure a healthy and safe environment for both staff and pupils. The cleaners are not allocated enough time for each room in order to clean adequately. In some of the schools, it was reported that there is no absence-cover when it comes to the cleaning staff.

The Decrease in the Quality or Frequency of School Cleaning Services

In the EIS report, it is clear that this particular survey provides very clear evidence associated with the decrease in the quality or frequency of cleaning services in schools over the past three years.

The Health of the Staff and Pupils Are Suffering

This survey also shows that the health of pupils and staff appear to have suffered from this decrease in cleaning frequency and quality. In addition, it also shows that some of the teaching staff have resorted to cleaning their classrooms themselves in direct relation to the decrease in cleaning quality. These surveys were sent out to about 3,000 members, with 681 that responded. The EIS has said that this rate is high and allows for conclusions that are worthwhile to be concluded.

Larry Flanagan, the EIS general secretary, has said that these results provide a worrying read.

Schools have to be cleaned correctly every day to make sure the teaching and learning environment is appropriate for the staff and pupils. The cuts made to the cleaning services have placed a great strain on the existing cleaning staff, with some circumstances forcing the teachers to clean their own classrooms, which has resulted in environments where disease and germs are able to rapidly spread with repercussions that are serious when it comes to the health of staff and pupils. This could result in an increase in teacher and pupil absence, with detrimental impacts on the wellbeing of teaching and learning.

The Consequences Associated With the Cut Backs on Correct Cleaning for the Pupils

Recent incidences like outbreaks of the norovirus along with infestations of rodents and insects in schools go onto further highlight the direct consequences associated with cutbacks made to the correct cleaning in our schools.

One of the Scottish Government spokesmen has said that the local authorities have to ensure that they are offering clean and safe environments for every school user.

Over the last decade, a reduction close to two-thirds has been recorded in relation to the proportion of the pupils educated in “bad” or “poor” condition schools.