Voluntary (aided or controlled) schools usually comprise two charities that work interdependently, the governing body, a corporate body created under the SSFA 1998, which runs the school the charity usually called the foundation, which holds the land and buildings on trust for the provision of a school and/or for specified religious and educational purposes.
Each of these charities has its own charity trustees. Governors are charity trustees. Refer to Assistant Director Business & Premises for information of the trustees of the foundation.
The ‘school’ is the charitable activity of the governing body, not an entity in itself.
It is implicit in the purpose of the charity that the governing body can use the site for its charitable activity ‘school’ without lease, licence or other agreement.
The governors have ‘control of the premises¹’ to decide on occasional or regular lettings. Governors also decide on significant other uses e.g. Pre-School, Out of Hours Clubs etc. Where these are not run by the governing body, the foundation trustees will be party to the legal agreement that allows the other party to occupy the site. The legal agreement will be a lease or licence. The legal agreement is on commercial terms.
The governing body should not agree to a use of the premises that is contrary to the purposes and practices of the Church of England.
The governing body should not agree to a use of the premises that is contrary to the purposes and practices of the Church of England. For advice on what is ‘contrary’ consult vicar.
The governing body can be directed by the Local Authority to allow use for certain purposes e.g. youth work. This rarely happens.
Legislation allows for certain uses e.g. for political meetings before elections.
Only the Foundation governors of the governing body can decide the use of the premises on Sundays.
All revenue work to the premises is LA liability, but the funding is delegated to schools being part of the Direct Schools Grant (DSG). There is no governing body contribution to revenue work. All work costing less than £2,000 is automatically revenue expenditure.
All capital work at Voluntary Controlled (VC) school premises is LA liability, but certain responsibilities will have been delegated to schools in agreement with the Schools Forum.
All capital work at Voluntary Aided (VA) school premises is governing body liability except work to the playing fields.
Here are some examples that are intended to provide guidance on how to decide what might be regarded as revenue (paid for from revenue budgets) and capital expenditure (which can be met from capital grant).
- Localised repairs to a roof (patching or mending) should usually be met from revenue funds, because this would be regarded as normal repair and maintenance work. If the whole roof, or a substantial part of a large roof, needs to be replaced, then this could reasonably be regarded as capital
- Small repairs to playgrounds (filling individual potholes etc.) should usually be met from revenue funds, because this would be regarded as normal repair and maintenance work. If the whole of the playground needs to be resurfaced, then this might reasonably be regarded as a capital item.
- A boiler has unexpectedly broken down, and requires a new part which will cost £1,800. This could have been regarded as either revenue (because it is repair and maintenance) or capital. The cost, however, dictates that it must be revenue because it is below the ‘de minimis’ threshold of £2,000
- Replacing a damaged furniture would be regarded as a revenue cost because it is normal wear and tear. If, however, as part of a refurbishment of a whole classroom, all of the furniture is to be replaced then it can be included as part of the capital project
Capital Includes - Purchase of computer hardware and software where these are to be capitalised. However capital cannot be used for leasing of IT equipment and warranties as these must be funded from revenue
DFC is allocated annually to all schools on a formula. As VAT cannot be reclaimed by VA schools their DFC allocations are greater.
The local authority holds grant for VC schools. There is a LA process for accessing and recording the DFC grant.
For VA schools the Education Funding Skills Agency directs the grant direct to a separate Governors bank account.
VA school governing bodies contribute 10% of the grant.
The EFSA undertake an annual assurance exercise direct with the Governing Body of the School.
This is grant distributed to a ‘Responsible Body’ for allocation on priority condition work. Priority condition work are those items that if left unattended could close the school e.g. boiler replacement or renewing a flat roof.
The ‘Responsible Body’ for VC schools is the Local Authority; for VA schools their diocese.
The VA strand of Condition capital is the Schools Conditions Allocation (SCA). SCA is an annual programme that runs with the financial year (April to March). VA head teachers receive a letter from the Diocese during the Autumn Term inviting them to submit a bid for funding in the next financial year. The bid includes; what the work is, why it needs to be done; the budget cost; how long it will take. VAT is applicable to condition works. Charities cannot reclaim VAT.
Advice should be sought from a Principal Designer (the Diocese holds a list of “approved” Principal Designers). School governors contribute 10% of the grant. A few VA school foundations have endowment funds which may assist governors with their liabilities. Diocesan consent is required for capital works above £10,000.
The DfE Blue Book provides guidance on VA Capital.
Approval should be sought for any capital work on buildings by completing the attached forms.
- Project Enquiry Form - Word
- Project Enquiry Form - PDF
- Project Implementation Form - Word
- Project Implementation Form - PDF
VC - Voluntary Controlled
VA - Voluntary Aided
DfE - Department for Education
LA – Local Authority
EFSA – Education Funding Skills Agency
Academies comprise of three charities that work interdependently.
i) The academy trust (academy proprietor) is the charity. The academy is the charitable activity of the academy trust.
ii) The governors of the academy trust are charity trustees and company directors.
iii) The charity usually called the foundation, which holds the land and buildings on trust for the provision of a school and/or for specified religious and educational purposes
An academy trust that run a number of academy schools is called a multi-academy trust. The above three charities applies but;
- the academy trust is one single charity
- the directors of the academy trust are the charity trustees and company directors
- each individual school may have its own governors (sitting on a local governing body), but in this arrangement they are not charity trustees; they are sub-committees with delegated authority.
Unlike Voluntary schools, academies occupy the premises through formal agreements.
The Playing Fields
These are usually owned by the local authority. The agreement is a 125-year lease. The Academy Trust is responsible for maintenance and insurance. Consent is required for works. A sublease cannot be granted
The agreement for the land and buildings owned by the charitable foundation is the Church Supplemental Agreement (CSA). It is most akin to a Licence that allows the academy trust to occupy whilst it fulfils the purposes of the foundation. The academy trust is responsible for maintenance and insurance. Consent is required for works. Insurance is to be in the joint names of the foundation and the academy trust. The foundations assets are not to be valued in the academy trust accounts
The definitions used in the voluntary schools section above apply. The academy’s Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State applies.
Devolved Formula Capital (DFC)
The formula allocation for VC schools applies. DFC is paid to the academy trust.
Condition Improvement Fund (CIF)
This is the equivalent fund for academies for condition work. It is subject to a competitive bid process.
Details of the annual fund can be found at
Remember the Church Supplemental Agreement requires approval to works.
The Local Authority has the duty to ensure sufficient school places are provided. Governing bodies cannot be directed to expand their school. The process should be one of agreement.
The LA responsibility to provides places does not automatically mean it commissions and undertakes building work at VA schools or academies. This should be by agreement and protect the governors’ premises responsibilities by way of collateral warranties from the contractor and any party with a design role.