Schools Land, Building and Trusts
Conditonal Consent for Capital Works at Church of England Schools and Acacemies
The buildings and sites that make up Church of England Schools and Academies within the Diocese of Chichester perform the vital function of providing the environment in which children learn and develop.
The DBE Measure 2021 provides that the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) consent must be obtained when “the governing body or (in the case of an academy) the proprietor of a church school which is on land in which a freehold or leasehold interest is held on trust for the purposes of a church school must obtain the consent of the DBE before entering into an agreement or arrangement in connection with alteration or repair of the premises of the school.”
The DBE Measure 2021 further allows for the DBE to determine a de minimis level, below which the duty to obtain consent does not apply.
The DBE has determined that a de minimis level of £10,000 will apply to all Church of England schools and academies when entering into an agreement or arrangement in connection with alteration or repair of the premises of a school. All works undertaken that are over this amount must have the formal consent of the DBE prior to works being undertaken.
The DBE has further determined that works that fall under the de minimis level but could affect the structural integrity or value of the land and buildings will also need prior consent. These works include, but are not limited to:
Significant alterations to or extensions of existing buildings
Construction of new buildings or erection of modular/prefabricated buildings
Alterations to or extension of car parks, playgrounds, or other significant site features
Refurbishment works to kitchens and sanitary facilities
Renewal of building services such as heating or electrical installations
Renewal of drainage services
In addition to the requirement for consent under the DBE Measure, schools and academies should, where necessary, obtain site trustee permission prior to works commencing. Site trustees could be the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF), the Vicar & Church Wardens or a specific site trust named for that school. If a school or academy is unsure who their site trustee is, DBE Officers can assist in identification of site trustees.
All schools and academies are required to complete the DBE Project Authorisation form when applying for consent to undertake capital works.
 See section 8(4) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/2021/1/section/8/enacted
School Condition Allocation
School Condition Allocation
From April 2020 the School Condition Allocation (SCA) replaced the Locally Coordinated Voluntary Aided Programme (LCVAP) capital funding stream. In order to access this funding for its VA schools, the diocese has entered into new terms & conditions with the DfE.
The new terms highlight that the following areas must be considered by schools when considering projects and by the diocese when allocating funding and managing the school estate:
- Good estate management (Link to DfE’s Good Estate Management in Schools guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-estate-management-for-schools)
- Procurement, value for money and sound financial conduct
- Working with site trustees to ensure schools have the correct permissions to undertake works to the buildings
School Condition Allocation Funding Request
All VA schools should complete the SCA Bid and Premises Development Plan and submit to the diocese annually. If you are seeking SCA funding you will also need to complete the section regarding the maintenance projects which you would like to be considered for SCA funding in 2024/25. The deadline for the submission of bids is 5pm on 26th January to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any queries please contact Heather Broadbent
Last year the DfE produced a guidance note on managing buildings during partial opening which contains useful information and areas to be aware of including water, gas and fire safety.
It is of course always good practice for premises managers and SLT to undertake frequent visual checks of all school buildings and grounds to ensure that there are no obvious issues with roofs, windows or pests..
The DfE has included a short section on estate management on P67 in their Schools Coronavirus (Covid 19) Operational Guidance
The DfE are now embarking upon Condition Data Collection 2 (CDC2) and will be using consultants to undertake property data collection visits to all schools in England during the next 5 years.
More information on the CDC2 is available here
Schools to be visited in tranches 1 and 2 are listed here
Last year the Church of England’s General Synod set new targets for all parts of the church to work to become carbon ‘net zero’ by 2030. A 2012/13 energy audit of church buildings showed that over 50% of carbon emissions are from our schools. We know that many schools have since installed solar panels or LED lighting, taken out SALIX loans or introduced their own recycling or eco school initiatives. We would love to know more about what you and your pupils are doing to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. We will include details of a survey in this e-newsletter in the summer term, so that we can hear more from you.
The Diocese schools currently fall into three categories Academies, Voluntary Controlled and Voluntary Aided Schools. These have very distinct differences relating to their buildings but one commonality in regard to the land and buildings. The land and buildings are owned by the diocese generally under ancient trust deeds that have as the original Trustees Vicar and Church Wardens. There are numerous variations however it is helpful to generalise, at the same time as recognising the need to investigate fully the individual sites when required.
The Diocese’ role is to assist schools in safe guarding their assets of both the value of the buildings and land. To this end any alterations, extensions, expansions, and changes to the building generally require the permission of the Diocese. The Diocese particularly assists Voluntary Aided Schools in advising on building development and capital asset planning.
Academies: Land and buildings are held by Diocese and playing fields retained by Local Authority (LA) on a 125 year Lease.
Voluntary Controlled: Land and buildings held by Diocese and playing fields by LA. In 1944 VC Schools came under the LA and therefore they are responsible for maintenance of the buildings.
Voluntary Aided: Land and buildings held by Diocese and playing fields by LA. They remain as voluntary aided and funded schools supported by their local parish and are more independently funded. This gives the school access to different capital funding streams but also liabilities and obligations. Primarily the requirement to pay governors 10% on all capital funded projects including Devolved Formula Capital and Local Authority Co-ordinated Voluntary Aided Programme (LCVAP). They also unlike LA are required to pay VAT.
Devolved Capital Funding
2023-24 Allocations of DFC for all schools can be found at this link by selecting the appropriate tab on the here.
Please note that in January 2023 the DFE provided Additional Capital Funding to schools directly. Allocations can be found here here. Please note this funding must be spent by 31st March 2025.
The governing body of a VA school has a statutory liability to pay 10% on any capital works using SCA or DFC funding. For VA schools all allocations on the above DFE spreadsheets are shown in 90% terms.