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Time for DfE to loosen property grip to aid school income?

27 November 2014

Browne Jacobson’s second annual survey of school leaders highlights clear concerns regarding funding within the education sector, with 75% of school leaders surveyed expressing dissatisfaction with government funding policy.

A significant number (30%) see fundraising through trading activities as a major priority. Maximising income from the school’s property portfolio may be something that schools wish to look into, be it by way of the grant of leases for commercial activities (gaining income through rent), hiring arrangements (for example, the use of sports facilities by community users), or freehold sales. However, the restrictions imposed under the legislation and, for academies, the Academies Financial Handbook and Funding Agreement, may make it difficult (but not impossible) to do so since the DfE are understandably keen to ensure that school land is retained for educational purposes, particularly playing fields.

If schools are to be able to truly harness the income generation potential of their land and buildings, DfE may have to loosen the restrictions on dealing with school land.

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