School Buildings and School Trusts

Church schools were established in a tradition of Christian commitment to education to serve local communities or parishes.

Many of our church schools are over 150 years old and continue to remain a focus of the community.

All diocese schools currently fall into three categories: academies, maintained voluntary controlled and maintained voluntary aided schools. These have very distinct differences relating to their buildings. Land and buildings are ‘held’ by the diocese which depending on the details of the trust deed means they are either owned or overseen by the diocese.

The role of the Diocesan Education Team is to assist all schools in safeguarding 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 Diocesan Board of Education (DBE). We particularly assist 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 are 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 the 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 for the governing board to pay 10% on all capital funded projects including Devolved Formula Capital and School Condition Allocation (SCA). VA schools do have to pay any VAT they are charged on invoices.  However, they are not VAT registered and therefore do not have access to a VAT refund scheme.  The DfE advise that this is accounted for by VA schools having an increased allocation (DFC) to reflect this.  It is also reflected by the arrangement with HRMC regarding VAT charged within project costs paid from SCA funding whereby an uplift is included to account for this as the VAT cannot be reclaimed.

Diocese (GDBE) approval for repairs and alterations to school buildings
If your school or academy is planning building and refurbishment works, please be aware that under the 2021 Diocesan Boards of Education Measure, consent for alterations or repair to the school  building should be obtained  from the GDBE  prior to the project commencing.
Where trustees of a school are not the GDBE, which in most cases will mean  the vicar and church wardens, schools should still consult with the GDBE on proposed building work but also inform their own trustees.

Minor repairs or maintenance works to the premises do not however justify the involvement of the GDBE or Trustees. Where extensions or alterations are taking place that would alter the character of the buildings due to scale, modifications or the introduction of different building materials the  GDBE should be consulted. Larger scale projects need to be brought to the GDBE’s attention at an early stage, enabling Governors to consider the GDBE’s views for inclusion within the design. It is not helpful to delay contact until the design is fully formulated with the expectation that agreement would automatically be given.

If Governors are unclear who acts as their Trustees the GDBE will be happy to assist.

The first point of contact for the GDBE (Gloucester Diocese Board of Education) in these matters is:

David Williams – Strategic Lead for Buildings, Admissions and Trusts

If you have any queries related to buildings, please contact David Williams who will be happy to assist you.