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Chelmsford Diocesan
Board of Education

What is a Foundation School?

How is a foundation school different from a voluntary school?

The foundation of a foundation school is set up by the governing body and may be disbanded by it. This is not possible in voluntary schools. In foundation schools the school owns the foundation, not the foundation the school - foundation schools without foundations, where the governing body itself owns the site.

A Church of England foundation school may have previously been a voluntary school. In this case it will still have its historic trust and trustees.

Who owns it?

Technically the foundation (if one exists) owns the site but the governing body could remove the foundation and own the site itself. In reality ownership is with the governing body. This is also true in group foundations, as an individual school may withdraw.

Who runs it?

The governing body runs the school. Foundation schools are very governing body-centred. This will inform the government’s approach to academy conversion – which is at the behest of the governing body.

Does the foundation have any control over the governing body?

Other than by appointing foundation governors, the foundation of a foundation school does not have any control over the governing body. It has no real existence independent of the governing body, whereas the trustees of a voluntary school continue in existence if the school closes and could promote a new school. Foundations that act for groups of Foundation schools have a continuing existence and may have a higher profile in practice in the life of the schools they own.

Does the DBE have any control over the governing body?

DBE powers over Church of England foundation schools are also contained in the DBE Measure and are the same as those obtaining for VC schools. 

Does the DBE have any control over the foundation?

The DBE has the same powers as it has over the trustees of voluntary schools.