In this guide we distinguish between premises officers – caretakers and site staff – and premises managers. Their duties will vary according to size of school.

In the smaller school the premises officer takes responsibility for the overall maintenance, upkeep and satisfactory operation of school buildings, grounds and equipment.  He or she is responsible for safety and security, minor repairs, monitoring of the cleaning contract, supervising grounds maintenance, undertaking risk assessments, completing all necessary paperwork and dealing with emergencies including call out.

Duties will include walking around the premises and grounds daily, checking cleanliness and tidiness, looking for damage and items needing repair, unlocking premises in the morning and lock up at night. Their main activities and responsibilities on a daily basis will include building inspections and carrying out minor repairs on the site such as minor adjustments to doors and windows, replacement of locks, boarding up windows with broken glass, general carpentry repairs, changing tap washers and replacing light diffusers.

In secondary schools the premises manager will manage staff and contractors undertaking the above duties. All premises managers should be responsible for managing the selection, evaluation and monitoring of external contractors and school caretakers, cleaning and maintenance staff. School clusters, groups and partnerships may share the services of the premises manager or officer across multiple sites. Their specific duties and responsibilities include:

  • Meeting, attending to and supervising contractors visiting and working on site and ensuring their work is carried out to the correct standard
  • Assisting in maintaining a safe and clean environment; undertaking emergency cleaning tasks when required, eg removal of body fluids, broken glass and flood damage
  • Assist with lettings at the site – operate the lettings system, ensuring that facilities are provided at the agreed level and that the areas let are returned to their normal use on time
  • Assisting with the efficient working of heating plant and lighting including monitoring fuel consumption
  • Reading meters and maintaining records
  • Undertaking minor repairs, maintenance, servicing and decoration to furnishings, fittings and buildings
  • Refuse and waste disposal and associated cleaning
  • Porterage duties
  • Daily checks on playgrounds and carrying out regular playground equipment inspections, recording results and reporting any defects
  • Conduct routine preventative maintenance tasks, eg ensuring that gutters and drains are kept clear and after rainfall surplus water is swept away
  • Moving and distribution of furniture, equipment and stores as required and updating inventory;  removal and disposal of obsolete furniture, equipment and other items
  • Checking fire appliances at regular intervals ensuring that they are serviced by the approved contractor, testing fire alarms weekly and keeping records of tests and evacuations
  • Reporting to the business manager or head evidence of major and minor defects
  • Taking steps to keep the premises free from infestation from pests and vermin
  • Ensuring that all areas within the site are kept clean, tidy, litter and weed free

The premises (or facilities) manager will assist if not lead in devising and managing the school building maintenance and improvement programme. Professional advice and support will sometimes be necessary for planning maintenance, nevertheless school personnel can assist in the process of prevention and early detection of building defects. The annual routine maintenance inspection of school buildings carried out by the premises manager forms part of the process of identifying and prioritising maintenance requirements. Regular inspection is the basis of good building maintenance practice. It will help you to identify necessary repairs at an early stage and to help minimise the risk of major and costly problems occurring.

The premises manager should be responsible for the planned servicing of plant and equipment to: ensure equipment is running and reliable; safeguard environmental compliance; maximise the functional life of equipment and monitor energy efficiency. The servicing and maintenance will usually be conducted by contractors and managed by site staff who will know where gas, water and electricity can be isolated and shut down.

Besides implementing best practice in building maintenance, the premises manager would be responsible for ensuring statutory and regulatory compliance, reviewing security and emergency plans and leading on procuring and managing building projects for repairing defects, alterations and improvements. Statutory compliance involves monitoring, scheduling checks, inspections, tests and servicing in areas such as: asbestos materials; workplace health and safety; COSHH; fire, water, electrical and gas safety; lifts and hoists; tree safety and playground equipment.

Entrants for premises officer in particular are usually mature people with previous work experience and often with a background in a building trade. Training should include short courses, for example in health and safety; use of power tools and equipment; first aid; PAT testing; manual handling; use of cleaning chemicals and fire safety awareness. Increasingly as school groups invest in and share the use of plant and equipment then further training should be considered worthwhile. One initiative to “invest to save” is to training site staff in the use of equipment to work at height Staff are then qualified to use hired mobile and fixed access platforms to safely work at height and facilitate access for small builders in order to keep maintenance and repair costs down.

Academic qualifications are not usually required for premises officers. The following qualifications, however, may be considered:

  • Level 1 Introduction to the Facilities Industry, City and Guilds
  • Level 2 Facilities Management Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Property & Caretaking Operations (equivalent to Level 2)
  • Property & Caretaking Management (equivalent to Level 3)
  • Upkeep Training offers short courses in building maintenance for people in housing, property and facilities management.

A Google search would help you source examples of job descriptions, person specifications and pay scales. The range of attributes, abilities, skills, experience and knowledge required of premises officers would comprise:

  • Good standard of education (GCE English/Maths)
  • ICT literate – word processing, simple spreadsheets, basic use of browser
  • Plan their own routines to suit the day-today needs of the school.
  • People need to be flexible and enjoy a varied routine possibly across a number of school sites
  • Capable of establishing good working relationships with the headteacher, office and teaching staff, students, parents, cleaners and contractors
  • CRB clearance, aware of child protection and safeguarding children and young people policies and procedures
  • Able to communicate and interact appropriately with children
  • Well organised, conscientious, reliable and observe confidentiality
  • Proactive and show initiative to carry out duties when needed rather than waiting to be directed
  • Have good communication skills, both oral and written
  • Have proven ability to organise and manage a diverse workload
  • Demonstrable practical skills with basic DIY and capable of carrying out a wide range of repair works eg proficiency with plumbing, carpentry and decorating
  • Reasonably fit as the work involves lifting and carrying
  • Be willing to undertake training when required
  • Monitor stock control for inventory purposes
  • Clean driving licence

The premises manager might have a surveying or contract manger background and professional qualifications. Some schools use the services of a local freelance consultant Chartered Building Surveyor on a locum or call down basis for specific projects. The option to either employ a manager directly or to engage a consultant becomes more feasible when costs are shared across a school cluster, group or federation.

To see how Every can assist in the smooth running of premises management, as well as making handing over to new members of staff easier, book a free demo with a member of our team by clicking below.