Janitors play a vital role in Glasgow’s schools, maintaining the grounds and buildings and keeping them safe and secure. The janitorial service is run by Cordia, one of the arms-length companies (or ALEOs) wholly owned by the Council. Cordia have proposed a ‘cluster model’ for primary schools and nurseries that instead of ensuring one janitor per school would provide three or four janitors to support six establishments within a geographical area, or five or six janitors to cover eight. Green councillors rejected this proposal and specifically allocated funding for One School-One Janitor in their recent Budget.
Janitors working in a single establishment are in a position to know the children and their carers and parents. They know who should be coming into the grounds or school. They know when children should or shouldn’t be leaving the grounds. Just as importantly, pupils know who their janitor is – there is not an array of different people coming at different times and on different days.
Janitors start work well before the children arrive, checking the grounds, removing litter, opening shutters and gates. On occasion, and particularly after weekends, this may involve removing animal faeces, drug paraphernalia, or larger items dumped in playgrounds. When there is snow or ice, they clear and treat access routes. With children arriving at each establishment at around the same time – how can this work possibly be staggered across different sites?
Emergencies such as broken heating, smashed windows and blocked toilets need to be dealt with quickly, not when someone on another site is free. If a child is sick, it must be cleared immediately not left lying.
250 million pounds has been spent over recent years refurbishing Glasgow’s older schools and constructing new ones. Can we really afford not to ensure that this investment is properly looked after? Maintenance checks are only part of the picture in ensuring that minor issues are prevented from developing into costly problems by someone who knows the building well. Janitors also carry out asbestos checks, fire alarm tests and attend to fire registers, extinguishers and other fire equipment. Not knowing when things are being done and by whom could only add to pressure on school management teams.
All these issues affect the health, safety and security of all of those in our schools yet there has been no consultation over the proposals through parent councils.
Glasgow’s children should be educated in schools where staff work together as a team to provide a welcoming and supportive environment, where they are well-known to each other and to the children, carers and parents. Janitors are a cornerstone of these school communities. Greens believe the ‘cluster’ model proposals are extremely short-sighted and we will continue to fight for One School - One Janitor.