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Issues around school lettings, particularly in relation to children's centres and extended services.

Charging

Schools are expected to at least cover the cost of the letting when the use is not for the benefit of their pupils or pupils registered at another school. The flowchart attached to this page, published by the DfE, describes what types of activity can be funded from the delegated school budget.

Where the use is by Derbyshire County Council, schools are expected to cover no more than the costs involved, which during the normal school day (up to 6 pm) should not include energy or caretaking costs.

In all other circumstances, governors may charge above cost. In community schools any profits raised through community use belong to the local authority although, in Derbyshire, the authority allows the community schools to keep the income they generate. In foundation, voluntary controlled or aided schools any funds generated through community use should be retained by the school for its own purposes.

Children’s centres

Some accommodation in schools is now used for the delivery of children’s centre services. Where accommodation in schools is used to provide childcare for children’s centres on weekdays from 8am to 6pm for the whole year, a lease will be drawn up between the school governing body and the childcare provider. The current charge for the accommodation is £86 per square metre for the year, which has been estimated as the cost of providing energy, maintenance, caretaking, cleaning and other accommodation associated costs.

Where other, more temporary or part time, use of the school for children’s services is required, the lettings guidance should be followed.

Extended services

If a third party wishes to make use of part of a school on a permanent basis (for example to base a member of staff in the school) consideration should be given whether to establish a lease or simply follow the lettings guidance. In all other circumstances the letting guidance should be followed.

Legal background

Various education acts refer to the control of school premises. The School Standards and Framework Act (1998) states that school premises shall be under the control of the governing body, subject to directions given by the local authority as to the use of the premises. In exercising this control, governing bodies must have regard to the desirability of those premises being made available for community use.

The power of the local authority to direct the use of school premises does not apply to foundation schools and is limited in voluntary aided schools to a purpose connected with the education or welfare of the young and where the authority is satisfied that there is no alternative accommodation in the area.

If you have any queries please contact Neil Beeson in schools support finance, email: neil.beeson@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 532952.

Training sessions can be arranged for schools if required.

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