Children as young as seven Alexandra Junior School in Hounslow have been handed mops and dusters and asked to clean their classrooms in a trial inspired by a visit to Asia.

Children at Alexandra Junior School, in Denbigh Road, Hounslow, spend five to 10 minutes at the end of every day scrubbing floors, vacuuming and polishing windows.

Head teacher Heather Sullivan came up with the idea after visiting schools in South Korea, where it is common practice for youngsters to clean up after themselves.

She said it taught pupils vital life skills and gave them a greater sense of responsibility for the surrounding environment.

"It's important that children value the environment they are in and that our young people grow to be responsible citizens, not only in their own homes, but by playing their part as members of Hounslow's community," she told the Chronicle.

"We're pleased the children have so much fun and are taking their new skills home with them too."

Pupils from all years have been cleaning since the beginning of January.

The school still employs external cleaners, though it changed contractors at the start of the year, and youngsters don't clean the stairs, toilets or kitchens.

They are supervised at all times and only use eco-cloths, requiring no detergents, for health and safety reasons.

Mrs Sullivan said some parents had been a bit unsure of the scheme to begin with, fearing pupils would miss out on teaching, but they soon changed their minds when their children started bringing their new skills home.

Leanne Officer, of Chester Road, Hounslow, said: "I was quite surprised at first but this has given children a lot of responsibility and made them more aware of what they should be doing to look after their surroundings."

Her daughter Raina, eight, said: "We've really enjoyed working together to clean our classrooms. It's been a big opportunity for us to do different things and learn new skills."

Mrs Sullivan plans to review the scheme in the coming weeks before deciding whether to make it a permanent fixture, which could be copied by other schools in the area.

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