Local authority schools

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Local authority schools
  • What is a LA school?
  • Purchases by school governors
  • Education Action Zones (EAZ)
  • School photographers
  • Academies

This guidance note provides an overview of the VAT issues that need to be considered by a local authority (LA) school. This should be read in conjunction with the following guidance notes:

Notice 701/30 
  • Supplies of Education
  • Supplies of goods and services closely related to education
  • Local authorities, government and public bodies
What is a LA school?

A LA school is a school that is maintained by and receives funding from a LA under arrangements laid down in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, ss 45 – 53 (subscription sensitive). The following schools are included:

  • voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools
  • foundation and special foundation schools
  • community and special community schools

The following are not treated as LA schools for VAT purposes:

  • nursery schools
  • pupil referral units


Any education or vocational training provided by local authorities for no charge, or which they provide acting as a public authority is regarded as a non-business activity from a VAT perspective. Local authorities are, however, eligible bodies and all other educational or vocational training courses that they provide for any form of charge or payment are generally exempt business supplies even if it is partly subsidised.

Purchases by school governors

With regard to certain purchases made in respect of the LA school, a governor is deemed to act as an agent of the LA. The governors need to use money from the following sources:


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