Rating Manual section 6 part 3: valuation of all property classes

Section 590: local authority and other maintained schools including state funded academies (but not free schools)

This publication is intended for Valuation Officers. It may contain links to internal resources that are not available through this version.

1. Scope

The hereditaments to which this section refers are as follows-

a. Community schools (often formerly described as ”County Schools”), ie those provided and maintained by Local Education Authorities (LEAs) whether County Councils, Metropolitan Boroughs or London Boroughs.

b. Voluntary schools, i.e. those provided by other bodies, usually religious bodies, but maintained by Local Education Authorities.

c. Foundation schools where the governing body employs the school’s staff and has primary responsibility for admission arrangements. The school’s land and buildings are owned by the governing body or by a charitable foundation. Many of these schools were formerly grant maintained schools. A new type of Foundation school will be known as a “Trust school” and will be supported by a charitable trust.

d. State funded Academies are technically independent schools with greater freedoms regarding the teaching of the National Curriculums, but are operated in close conformity with LEAs and for rating valuation purposes should be treated in the same way as the schools in the above categories. (This does not include Free schools.)

For the benefit of doubt this section does not refer to Studio schools which are a type of Free school (see section 820), University technical colleges and City technical colleges (see section 585). Nor does it include either LEA operated stand-alone nursery schools or independent day nurseries (see section 337).

It does apply to LEA run special schools (where not exempt), sixth form colleges, and primary (including nursery elements), middle, secondary (comprehensive and grammar), and all through schools, i.e. catering for pupils in the age range 3-16 (or 18) be they provided and maintained by the LEA or be they state funded academies (excluding Free schools). It is applicable to pupil referral units (but design size criteria is not applicable) unless that unit is located within a building for which evidence exists to support a valuation based on the rentals method.

2. List description and special category code

List Description: School and Premises Scat Code159: Suffix G

3. Responsible teams

This is a generalist class and responsibility for valuation will lie with the appropriate business unit. Queries of a complex nature arising from the valuation of individual properties should be referred to the NSU class facilitator via the Class Co-ordination Team (CCT).

4. Co-ordination

NSU Civic Team has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of this class. The team is responsible for the approach to and accuracy and consistency of valuations within this class. The team will deliver practice notes describing the valuation basis for revaluation and provide advice as necessary during the life of the rating list. Caseworkers have a responsibility to:

  • follow the advice given at all times,
  • not depart from the guidance given on appeals or maintenance work without approval from the co-ordination team
  • seek advice from the co-ordination team should any issues arise that are not covered in this instruction.

Schools are a sui–generis class and consequently, as a general rule, only evidence relating to hereditaments in the same mode or category of use is pertinent.


  • Scottish and Newcastle (Retail) Ltd v Williams (VO) (RA 2000 P 119) and the subsequent Court of Appeal decision –Williams (VO) v Scottish and Newcastle Retail and Allied Domecq [RA 2001 P 41)

  • Re the appeal of Reeves (VO) RA 2007 P168

  • Dawkins (VO) v Royal Leamington Spa BC and Warwickshire County Council (1961) RVR 291.

See RM Section 3 Part 2 paragraph 9.2 and appendix 1 thereof for further guidance on mode and category of use at the material day.

6. Survey Requirements

6.1 Method of measurement

There is virtually no arms-length open market rental evidence in this sector and as a consequence properties within this class will normally be assessed using the contractor’s basis of valuation. Measurement should be to Gross Internal Area (GIA) as defined in the Valuation Office Code of Measuring Practice.

6.2 Description

The nature of the state education system will vary from one (LEA) area to the next, but is commonly arranged in age ranges with nursery schools serving the 3-4 year age group, primary normally 4/5 to 11 (sometimes divided into infant and junior) and secondary 11-16 (or 18 if a sixth form is incorporated). However some LEAs have Middle schools in their area which cater for the 8-12 or 9-13/14 age group. There is also a number of what is known as “all-through” or “all–age schools” which cater for pupils from age 3 to age 16/18.

Increasingly schools are converting to self-governing academy status; this is particularly so in respect of secondary schools with over 60% of all secondary schools having academy status in May 2016 (as opposed to approximately 15% of primary schools). Within a few LEA areas selective education in the form of grammar schools still exists.

The size and specification of buildings and ancillary sports facilities will vary according to the type of school concerned.

6.3 Requirements

a) Unit of assessment

The principles referred to in Rating Manual Section 3 Part 1 Paras 2.1 to 2.8 should be adhered to. In cases of difficulty advice from the NSU specialist should be obtained. The normal approach should be applied to the identification of hereditaments and no attempt should be made to aggregate property which on normal rating principles constitutes more than one hereditament. Where accommodation is so physically separated from the main school buildings and so used as to constitute a separate hereditament, it should be separately assessed.

Contiguous sports facilities which are operated by a different authority, or by a management committee with representatives from the school/LEA and the local authority, should be separately assessed unless,

i. the school or LEA exercises paramount control over the facilities

ii. the school is a community school and the sports facilities are operated by the same unitary local authority as the school, as in Trafford MBC v Pollard (2006). NB this will not apply in the many instances where local authorities have devolved leisure centres to charitable trusts.

In cases where the sports facilities are part of the school hereditament then providing they are of the same standard as, and are operated as, a local authority leisure centre, then that element should be costed in accordance with RM Section 6 Part 3 Section 960 ( using the dedicated spreadsheet – “sports and leisure centres as part of a larger hereditament”), and should not be costed as a Category 2 school building. The appropriate de-capitalisation rate for the hereditament as a whole will be the lower prescribed rate provided the hereditament is mainly used for the purpose of a school. “Mainly” should be interpreted as over 50%, and where a leisure centre comprises 50%, or less, of the gross internal area of the whole hereditament, the lower de-capitalisation rate applies.

The lower rate can still apply even where the leisure centre comprises more than 50% of the whole GIA, provided that school use of the leisure centre is sufficient to justify this when the hereditament is viewed as a whole. If for example the school part of the hereditament is 3,000 sqm, and the leisure centre is 3,500 sqm (i.e. 54% of the whole GIA), but the leisure centre is 30% used for the purposes of the school (averaged over the year), the total school use should be assessed as (3000 + (30% x 3500))/(3000+3500)= 62%; in such a case the lower decap rate will still apply.

b) Survey detail

The following information is required:

i) A plan (CAD) or otherwise should be obtained where available and check dimensions made on site as necessary; otherwise a plan should be drawn up.

ii) Method of construction - e.g. traditional brick and tile or steel framed.

iii) Dimensions (where measured to NIA) and description of the accommodation i.e. arts, science or administrative block etc.

iv) Only the GIA of individual building(s) is required unless there is a significant variation in the type of accommodation.

For example a separate GIA will be required if a sports hall and associated ancillary accommodation is not physically separated from the rest of the school. Likewise for such facilities as squash courts, garages, workshops etc.

v) Details of external sports facilities e.g. artificial playing surfaces, Astroturf, 3G, water based etc., athletics tracks and grass pitches together with a description of associated flood lighting.

vi) Description and detail of services to the hereditament e.g. heating, air conditioning, security systems (to include CCTV, barriers, gates and perimeter fencing), solar panels, wind turbines etc.

vii) Brief details and the GIA of any domestic accommodation (In those rare cases where a school falling within the scope of this section incorporates boarding accommodation the guidance given in RM Section 6 Part 3 Section 820 Paragraph 6.3 should be followed).

viii) Where a place of religious worship is present details of the use to which it is put and whether it is open to the public at large together with description and GIA.

ix) Number of car parking spaces for staff and visitors - or/and parking area, the nature of the surface, and a note of the extent of site landscaping.

x) The site area (split between developed and undeveloped land, the latter being principally grassed playing fields).

xi) Establish by enquiry the number of pupils attending the school and the recognised capacity of the school (if available). The number of sixth formers and pre-school pupils should be recorded separately.

d) Exemptions

i. Premises provided for the disabled

Any part of the hereditament which satisfies the provisions of section 16, Schedule 5 to the Local Government Finance Act 1988 should be regarded as exempt from rating and therefore ignored for valuation purposes. For further guidance see VOA - Exemptions - Part A: Property used for disabled persons (Rating manual Section 6 Part 6 Exemptions: Part A)

Special schools may well fall into this category but exemption must not be assumed and all relevant investigations must be carried out before exemption is conceded.

ii. Chapels

Under Para. 11 Sch. 5, LGFA 1988, exemption may be available for school chapels even where they do not comprise separate hereditaments, Chapels will be entitled to exemption where there is sufficient external invitation to the public and they are used as public places of worship, provided that they are certified as places of religious worship. For further guidance see VOA - Part B: Churches, church and chapel halls and similar buildings(Rating manual Section 6 Part 6 Exemptions: Part B)

7. Survey capture

Survey information including plans are to be stored on EDRM. The GIA of the building(s) is to be entered onto the valuation spreadsheet (LEA schools) held on the non-bulk server (NBS).

8. Valuation approach

8.1 The special nature of these hereditaments and the circumstances under which they operate will normally exclude a valuation approach on a receipts & expenditure basis and, in the absence of rental/comparative evidence for the hereditaments in this section, the basis of assessment is the Contractor’s Basis as detailed in Rating Manual Section 3 Part 3 and the practice note applicable to the relevant Rating List. Should case workers become aware of the existence of an arms-length lease relating to a state funded school full details are to be obtained, preferably on a Form of Return, and a completed copy forwarded to the relevant specialist in NSU.

9. Valuation support

Valuations are to be carried out using the dedicated LEA Schools spreadsheet held on the non-bulk server (NBS).