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Buildings and Land

Information on the legal framework of building ownership, maintaining and improving the building.

Simon Quartermaine 

School Buildings Officer

01904 699513

The main areas of building-related advice and support available from the Diocesan Board of Education are as follows:

  • The Legal Framework of Building Ownership
  • Maintaining and Improving the Building
  • Financial Administration of Church Schools and Charity Law

While most of the advice and support will be via telephone or e-mail, site visits or attendance at governing body meetings can also be arranged where required.

The legal framework of Building Ownership

Under the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA), Church schools fall into 3 categories — Voluntary Aided, Voluntary Controlled and Foundation. The school buildings and hardstanding areas in each of the 3 categories are held in trust. The trustees may be either the Vicar and Churchwardens, or the Diocesan Board of Finance or a separate charitable trust (e.g. the Lady Elizabeth Hastings Foundation). Playing fields are generally in the ownership of the LA although there are exceptions to this. 

In addition to the three categories mentioned above there is now a fourth – Academy. In early conversions the trustees leased the sites to the academy trust on a 125-year term but this arrangement has been replaced by a license to operate from the site known as the Church Supplemental Agreement.

The trustees and the governing body are entirely separate entities with separate responsibilities. However, representation of the trustees on the governing body will normally be arranged either through the ex-officio position of the vicar or in the case of a separate trust, through a place on the board for an interested trustee.

Regardless of the category of the school the permission of the trustees must be sought before building works are undertaken. This also includes the installation of photovoltaic cells and solar panels. If a school is in doubt as to who its trustees are the School Buildings Officer can advise. 

In Voluntary Controlled and Foundation schools and Academies, the DBE must also be notified while for Voluntary Aided schools the approval and advice of the DBE must be sought as early as possible.

As a general rule of thumb all queries relating to school properties or land should be referred to the DBE in the first instance. Contact Simon Quartermaine (School Buildings Officer) on  or 01904 699513.

Maintaining and improving the building

Academies will have access to advice and support through their MAT while Voluntary Controlled schools must work through the various property services departments of their LA. However, DBE officers are always happy to discuss matters and to offer appropriate support wherever possible.

For Voluntary Aided schools the funding, approval mechanisms and arrangements for building projects are, however, entirely different and there is a DBE officer with specific responsibilities for this area of work.

In brief, there are two main capital funding streams available to VA schools. These are Devolved Formula Capital (DFC), which can be used to fund approved work (including the purchase of IT and furniture) costing over £2,000 (exc. VAT and fees). DFC allocations are held either by the governors or in individual school accounts managed by the Diocese. For those schools which “bank” with the Diocese information on the amount of DFC held and the interest generated is sent to these schools in the form of a monthly statement. Larger building projects can be supported with allocations from the School Capital Allocation (SCA) given to the DBE for its VA schools – please note though that access to this funding is via a bidding system based on priorities identified in the school’s Development Plan and Asset Management Plan. It may also require an element of matched funding from DFC. Please note that all work requiring the expenditure of capital monies, whether DFC, SCA or any other similar programme, is liable for VAT which cannot subsequently be re-claimed

Capital funding can only be used to meet a maximum of 90% of project costs. Therefore, governors will, in almost every instance, be required to meet the remaining 10% from their own funds from the school’s revenue budget.

In order to assist schools in managing their cash flow, the DBE is able to offer a bankrolling service, which will pay invoices and claim grant on their behalf. If a school wishes to make use of this service its DFC must be held by the Diocese. A further requirement is that any consultant appointed to manage the project must be registered with the DBE.

The School Buildings Officer will provide advice and support throughout each project. Please do not hesitate to ask on  or 01904 699513.

Reactive and Planned Building Maintenance

As a member of DBE Services, the DBE offers a fully developed and proven property management scheme to our schools. The level of service available provides schools with the option to opt out of the Local Authority’s maintenance service, as the scheme provides emergency cover as well as regular maintenance and advice on development projects. The basic elements of the scheme are as follows:

  • The setting up and management of all service contracts for the school buildings as required by legislation and Health and Safety requirements, including regular tendering of contracts to ensure best value.
  • Professional support and advice on all building related issues, provided by consultants with detailed knowledge of your school.
  • 24 hour, 365 day contact point for emergency repairs, with guaranteed response times relative to the nature of the emergency, at pre agreed competitively tendered rates.
  • An out of hours monitoring system for intruder alarms together with a key holder service as required.
  • Setting up and monitoring of school ‘Log Book’ to include the recording of all servicing details, the school asbestos register, statutory reports.
  • School retains funding and expenditure is only made once it has been authorised by the school.

The flexibility inherent on the scheme allows schools to retain the services of any firm currently providing services, as these firms will have the opportunity to apply to become registered contractors.  

The scheme ensures that school Governors and Headteachers have a single point of contact for all building related issues, no matter how large or small. Day to day issues can be planned into larger capital projects to avoid unnecessary cost associated with non-responsive revenue repairs. This in turn enables Governors and Headteachers to undertake more robust financial planning of their building allocations and therefore maximise the funds available to them.

Please refer to the DBE Services website for further details Building Maintenance – DBE Services or speak with Simon Quartermaine, the School Buildings Officer