School land and premises
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law
School land and premises

The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • School land and premises
  • Ownership of school land and premises
  • The School Sites Act 1841
  • Community use and disposal of school premises

Ownership of school land and premises

The ownership of school sites and playgrounds, school buildings and school playing fields depends for the most part on the type of school in question.

Community schools

The land and premises at ‘community’ schools belong to the local authority, as do the land and premises at maintained nursery schools and community special schools.

Voluntary schools

Voluntary schools were by definition founded without the help of the local authority and therefore most of the buildings at a voluntary school belong to trustees, often allied to a religious organisation. Historically, voluntary schools (which are now either ‘voluntary controlled’ or ‘voluntary aided’) were most often founded without any playing fields.

The site owned by the trustees at a voluntary controlled school is usually restricted to the school buildings. In practical terms, the trustees usually own the footprint of the original buildings, plus the hard playground(s), entrance way(s) and the (now disused or re-used) outside toilet blocks, but not the caretaker's dwelling, if any. If a voluntary controlled school is to move to a new site, or expand onto an extension of its existing site, the local authority is obliged to provide that new land and the new or extended buildings.

The land and premises at a voluntary aided school in England belong to trustees, although all of the maintenance is