Becoming a premises manager

Other relevant job titles: Caretaker, site manager

School caretakers are the people who make sure that teachers and pupils can learn in clean and safe surroundings. That’s a wide-ranging brief and takes the caretaker everywhere in the school; classrooms, cloakrooms, corridors, halls and offices – and outdoors, in the school grounds, of course.

In smaller schools the title ‘caretaker’ tends to be used whereas in larger schools, where the work often involves supervising cleaners and other workers, the term ‘site manager’ may be preferred. Either way, they are on their feet most of the day, and the work involves lifting and carrying.

Salary

Salaries vary according to the size of the school but will probably be in the range of £15,000 - £30,000. Paid overtime may also be available.

A caretaker’s house, usually in the school grounds, may be offered at a reasonable rent.

Hours

This is definitely not a nine-to-five job and will involve early starts and some evening duties. The normal working week is 37 hours, but it’s essential to be flexible about working times, because it may be necessary to open the school in the evenings and at weekends.

Premises manager duties  

Duties can vary considerably in schools of different size. Caretakers walk round the school and grounds on a daily basis, checking cleanliness and tidiness, looking for damage and items needing repair. They unlock the premises in the morning and lock up at night. Other duties vary, but may include

  • Cleaning or supervising cleaners
  • Controlling access to the premises, maintaining security and reporting incidents, such as vandalism, to the police and headteacher
  • Reporting items needing repair, carrying out basic repairs (such as replacing broken window panes or fixing leaking taps), arranging for outside contractors to do more complicated repairs
  • Maintaining the school grounds, or supervising staff carrying out this work

Qualifications needed to become a caretaker

Academic qualifications are not required. Entrants are usually mature people with previous work experience. Training may include short courses – for example in first aid, health and safety matters and the use of electrical appliances.

However, the following qualifications are relevant and should increase your  chances of getting the job:

Skills and knowledge

Caretakers/site managers plan their own routines, to suit day-to-day requirements and the needs of the school. The job suits people with a flexible approach who enjoy a varied routine and need to be:

  • Capable of establishing good working relationships with the head teacher, office and teaching staff, pupils, parents, cleaners, etc.
  • Flexible in their approach to planning the working day
  • Well organised, conscientious and reliable
  • Practical, with basic DIY skills
  • Reasonably fit, because the work involves lifting and carrying

The upsides

You’re your own man or woman with a great deal of autonomy to get the job done.

The downsides

Sometimes unsociable hours and you can never get away from school because you are usually living on the premises.

Where to find more information