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Net capacity assessments of school buildings and published admission numbers (PANs) guidance for headteachers.

Net capacity

This revised system was introduced in November 2002. It replaced the previous more open enrolment (MOE) assessment but assesses the physical measurements of spaces and differentiates between teaching and non-teaching spaces.

The net area of a school is all spaces, both teaching and non-teaching, except corridors, toilets and showers, boiler and plant room and school kitchens. The net capacity of a primary school is based on the size and number of classrooms, whilst the net capacity of a secondary school reflects the size and number of classrooms with a utilisation factor (decimal fraction equivalent to average time a workplace is used).

If a school has a defined and stated policy of inclusion, the net capacity can be reduced by 10% in primary and 7% in secondary to allow space for wheelchairs, equipment and teaching assistants.

The net capacity of a school is updated only if the physical spaces change, for example:

  • if space is removed
  • if space is added
  • if several spaces are amalgamated
  • if there is a change to the type of space

Indicated admission number

The net capacity assessment of a school (IAN) is undertaken by entering information on a spreadsheet which automatically calculates the indicated admission number for the school.

The IAN becomes the basis for defining the published admission number (PAN) and should reflect the number of pupils the school can accommodate in one year group. We are the admissions authority and as such define the PAN but this is done in negotiation with the headteacher and governors of the school. The PAN cannot be lower than the IAN unless a statutory consultation is undertaken, but it can be higher than the IAN.

If a school admits pupils at stage mid-way through the cycle of year groups (for example, a primary school admits pupils at Year 3 from an infant school or a secondary school admits external pupils at Year 12), this should be shown as an additional number in the PAN.


This is the unit of measurement in net capacity assessments and is weighted according to the use of the accommodation, for example a classroom of 50 square metres will have 30 workplaces designated and a gym of 260 square metres will also have 30 workplaces designated.

In primary schools there are two types of space, general and specialist.

In secondary schools there are four types of space, general, light practical, heavy practical, and large and performance.

Workplaces are of two types, basic workplaces and resource workplaces. The balance between teaching and non-teaching spaces should be a ratio of 70% to 30%.

The following areas need to be measured:

  • all buildings on any site used by a school, owned and maintained by us, the governing body or trustees.
  • all non-maintained buildings, particularly if available for 80% plus of the week for use by the school.
  • circulation space identified

Measured but excluded areas are non-school and support provision:

  • early years and childcare (E)
  • adult learning and skills (A)
  • specially resourced facilities (R)
  • parents or community rooms and chapels (P) or (W)
  • any spaces where workplaces are attributed, but physical attributes mean they are not suitable for teaching (U)

For more information, please contact your development contact officer or Jennie McCusker, email:

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