Church Schools were founded by Trust Deed, which stipulated the principles and legal conditions that continue to underpin their existence; in broad terms for the provision of education to the local community within context of Christian values sourced in the Gospel narrative.
The requirements of the Trust Deed have been modified by a large number of Acts of Parliament which relate to schools, nevertheless the Deed remains important because it secures the ownership of the school site, as a record of a donation of land or buildings for use as a Church of England school.
The school land and buildings in Church Schools are the property of the founding Trust. In some cases the Trust also owns other land associated with the school, sometimes even the playing fields but these are usually owned by the Local Authority. The school governors’ responsibility is to maintain the site and to ensure that the school does not undertake any activity that could reduce the capital value of the asset. By law (The Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 1991 amended for the 2006 Education Act) the Board must give approval before any capital works are carried out in any Church of England school, and, because much of the school property is held in trust any changes should also be approved by the Trustees.
Our children should have the best environment in which to grow and develop. It is also important that the resources that have been handed on to our communities by previous generations should be passed on, if possible, to the next generation. Maintaining school property is therefore a key aspect of the Christian ethos of our Church Schools.
The Diocese offers a range of advice, guidance and services relating to property, finance and capital funding to ensure that Church Schools and Academies remain sustainable and meet the needs of their communities.
Capital and Land Assets
Capital works in Voluntary Aided schools are the responsibility of the governing body and are grant aided, up to 90%, by the DfE, via the Diocesan Board of Education.
Voluntary-controlled schools are a cross between community and Voluntary-Aided schools; the local authority employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria, like a community school, but the school land and buildings are often owned by the Church. In Controlled Schools, capital works are paid for by the Local Authority, though there is a requirement for the school to contribute.
Academies are independent schools which are financed through a funding agreement with the Secretary of State. In Church of England academies the land continues to be held by the pre-existing charitable Trust (that is not by the Academy Trust), and so Trustee and DBE consent is still required prior to any capital works.
The Diocese provides support with the planning and development of Church school organisation projects and initiatives, including liaising with schools over improvements, the upkeep of premises, and advising on potential funding streams.
Governing Bodies across the Diocese of Canterbury are, quite astutely, keeping the options for school status and structure under regular review, responding to both local context and national policy adjustments. We work closely with schools, academies and the Kent County Council to maximise the benefit of funding streams, and guide schools through the possibilities of reorganisation whilst ensuring that the interests of the Trustees are supported at all times.
The Diocese has extensive experience in supporting schools looking to become members of a Multi Academy Trust or a Federation. In each instance we offer meaningful help and assistance including examination of any pit falls as well as identifying opportunities. Our role in school organisation is to help inform and navigate schools throughout the process, ensuring the necessary consents are sought by the Board of Education and Trustees where necessary.
Schools and Academies must liaise with Robyn Ford our Schools Officer at the earliest possible opportunity regarding any matter to do with buildings or school organisation.
Schools Officer (Assets, Projects and Legal)
01227 459401 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Academies and Multi Academy Trusts DOC