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There were 2606 voluntary-controlled (VC) schools on 1 January 2011.
Employer - local authority, although in reality the governing body has actual responsibility. All teaching staff must be employed on statutory terms and conditions. Where the school is designated with a religious character, the governing body may discriminate in employment of up to 20 per cent of teaching staff, including the headteacher.
Admissions authority – local authority. Must act in accordance with the Admissions Code and School Admission Appeals Code and the law relating to admissions. Where a VC school is designated with a religious character, the admissions authority may give priority to pupils of the faith, although not all do.
VC faith schools are able to prioritise up to 100 per cent of their places on faith-based admissions criteria when they are oversubscribed. If undersubscribed, they must admit all applicants. The admission authorities for all faith schools are required to consult the body or person representing their religion or religious denomination about their admission arrangements, as prescribed in the admission arrangements regulations or their funding agreements.
Owner of land and buildings – in most cases, a charitable foundation owns at least some of the land (except for playing fields, which are normally vested in the local authority). The foundation must be consulted before any changes can be made to the land or assets. Trustees must notify the LA of intention to dispose of non-playing field land, as well as of reinvestment proposals. The LA can object to such proposals and claim share of proceeds attributable to public investment. The Schools Adjudicator determines such proposals where there is not local agreement. May only dispose of playing fields with the Secretary of State’s consent.
Capital funding – delegated capital and local authority.
Power to propose significant changes – the governing body may publish any prescribed alteration or closure proposals for the school, subject to seeking relevant permissions from trustees or religious authorities. For example, under the Diocesan Board of Education Measures, governing bodies of Church of England Schools must first seek the consent of the trustees before consulting on or publishing prescribed alteration and closure proposals. The LA may only propose enlargement, addition of special educational needs provision, sixth form provision, or closure.
Religious character – most VC schools are designated with a religious character. RE must be provided in accordance with the locally agreed syllabus unless parents request denominational RE. Ofsted does not inspect RE; faith schools must arrange their own ‘section 48’ inspection.
Governing body – has general responsibility for the conduct of the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement. It is a corporate body, registered as a charity and receives the school’s delegated budget. The governing body is composed according to the VC stakeholder model, with representatives of the foundation and from parents, staff, local authority and the community. Foundation governors are appointed by the school’s founding body, church or other organisation named in the school’s instrument of government. The foundation appoints a minority of governors and holds the land and assets on trust for the purposes of the school. The trustees also have to ensure that the objects of the trust (e.g. to provide faith education) are upheld.
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Guide to the law for school governors
Access to the login page of the Edubase system, which contains details of all educational establishments in England and Wales.