ACADEMIC achievements and extra curricular activities may dominate parents’ thinking when choosing a private school, but the condition of the facilities is rarely far behind.
The cleanliness of rooms, and the physical state of the buildings, creates a powerful first impression on any prospective parent or pupil.
At the CAP Programme we help schools achieve excellence in housekeeping, and also catering, so that the pupils receive the best experience during their time at the school and the facility is also well placed to attract future students.
Over the years some of UK’s leading independent schools have won a prestigious CAP (Continuous Advancement Programme) Award in recognition of their housekeeping and/or catering teams.
Recent winners include Roedean School, Northampton High School, Harrogate Ladies’ College, Stafford Grammar School, Bishop’s Stortford College, Ipswich School, Westonbirt School, Vinehall School and Hollygirt School.
All of these schools would agree that winning either a Bronze, Silver or Gold CAP Award has differentiated them from the competition, allowed them to clearly demonstrate the quality of their pastoral care in terms of cleaning and food, and crucially evidenced the quality of service being experienced by the pupils.
So what makes a winner?
Top of the list is always attention to detail. Excellent housekeeping requires meticulous focus on a multitude of daily tasks to ensure that a high standard is always maintained.
Secondly we’re looking for evidence of good practices. In the kitchens this would mean safe food practices in operation such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) and training on mandatory and daily tasks.
Cleaning procedures should have set daily, weekly and annual time slots, for instance there should always be daily room cleans of soft furnishings and a plan in place for effective mattresses and pillow management (in boarding schools).
To achieve the highest level of recognition, a Gold Award, all inspections are unannounced and in term time.
The financial health and viability of the housekeeping department is an important award criterion. The feedback at this stage can also provide invaluable insight to improve budgetary management.
We’re looking to ensure that schools are getting great value for money from their materials and staffing against industry benchmarks.
Awards inspectors want to see astute financial practices at work from controlling waste food in kitchen production, at service and on plate returns, to the strict stock control of cleaning materials and disposable products, i.e. bin bags.
Beyond having the best procedures and systems in place, winning schools demonstrate high performance based on actual real-life delivery. So how clean is the school on the day of the inspection, what do the pupils think of the food on offer that day, is it the right temperature, taste and nutritional balance?
Naturally we’re also looking to see compliance to legal guidelines and industry benchmarks, although this is very much the bare minimum we expect from winning schools.
Head teachers have told us that members of the housekeeping and catering teams take great pride from winning an award and the recognition they receive is wonderful for staff motivation and retention.
The achievement of the award is very much the start of the journey of continual improvement in the housekeeping and catering functions.
Our specialist support to these departments aids progression and compliance. Last year our schools were immediately up to speed on the new allergen guidelines issued by Government and the legal implications of these new rules.
Being a CAP Award-winning school is a mark of quality and an indication to parents and pupils that you as a Head Teacher put as much emphasis on the perhaps less high-profile elements of the schooling experience, which are nonetheless vital to the happiness of pupils.
We have no doubt that the commitment to continually improve the way your school is cleaned, maintained and catered for is a crucial element of its broader success. Could you be our next winner?