Voluntary aided school
A voluntary aided school (VA school) is a state-funded school in England and Wales in which a foundation or trust (usually a religious organisation), contributes to building costs and has a substantial influence in the running of the school. Such schools have more autonomy than voluntary controlled schools, which are entirely funded by the state. In most cases the foundation or trust own the buildings. In some circumstances Local Authorities can help the governing body in buying a site, or can provide a site or building free of charge.
Prior to the 19th century, there were a variety of schools in England and Wales, from charity schools providing basic education for the poor to endowed schools (often grammar schools) providing secondary or all-age education. Early in that century, the British and Foreign School Society and the National Society for Promoting Religious Education sought to provide elementary schooling for poor children, setting up non-denominational British schools and Church of England national schools respectively. From 1833, the state began to provide grants to support these elementary schools and the less wealthy endowed schools. They were joined by the Catholic Poor School Committee, which established Roman Catholic elementary schools and received its first state grant in 1847. Secondary education also expanded at the same time, including a series of Roman Catholic secondary schools established by religious orders.
The state began to provide elementary education in 1870 and secondary education in 1902, but also continued to increase funding to the schools run by private organisations, now known as voluntary schools. In return these schools were increasingly influenced by the state, and were subject to jointly administered inspections. In 1926, voluntary secondary schools were required to choose between being "grant-aided" by the Local Authority, or receiving a "direct grant" from central government. Under the Education Act 1944, most of the direct grant schools became direct grant grammar schools. The Act also imposed higher standards on school facilities, and offered the remaining voluntary schools a choice in funding the costs this would incur:
- Voluntary controlled schools would have all their costs met by the state, but would be controlled by the Local Education Authority.
- Voluntary aided schools would be only partly funded by the state, with the foundation responsible for 50% of capital works but having greater influence over the school.
The Catholic Church chose to retain control of its schools, while more than half of Church of England schools became voluntary controlled. The state contribution to capital works for VA schools was increased to 75% by the Education Act 1959, and is now 90%.
By the 1970s, most local authorities were in the final stages of reorganising secondary education along comprehensive lines. Although the Roman Catholic hierarchy supported this change, many non-Catholic voluntary aided grammar schools opposed it. Local authorities could not compel voluntary aided schools to change any aspect of their admissions, but they could submit a proposal to the Minister to cease to maintain a school. This was done in cases where the local authority and school could not agree. Some of these schools became independent schools:
|Year||LEA||Name of school||Gender|
|1976||Surrey||Reigate Grammar School||Mixed|
|1977||Inner London||Emanuel School||Boys (now mixed)|
|1977||Surrey||Royal Grammar School, Guildford||Boys|
|1977||Inner London||Godolphin and Latymer School||Girls|
|1977||Inner London||Colfe's Grammar School||Mixed|
|1978||Kirklees||Batley Grammar School||Boys (now mixed)|
|1978||Surrey||Sir William Perkins's School||Girls|
|1979||Wolverhampton||Wolverhampton Grammar School||Boys (now mixed)|
|1979||Lancashire||Kirkham Grammar School||Mixed|
|1979||Hampshire||King Edward VI Grammar School, Southampton||Boys (now mixed)|
|1979||Hampshire||Churcher's College||Boys (now mixed)|
|1983||Cambridgeshire||Wisbech Grammar School||Mixed|
Direct grant status was abolished at the same time and over 40 such schools, almost all Roman Catholic, converted to voluntary aided status.
Many voluntary aided schools converted to grant-maintained status in the late 1980s, generally reverting to voluntary aided status when GM status was abolished in 1998. A few formerly independent faith schools that had become grant-maintained in the early 1990s also converted to voluntary aided status at that time.
Voluntary aided schools are a kind of "maintained school", meaning that they receive all their running costs from central government via the local authority. They do not charge fees to students, although parents are usually encouraged to pay a voluntary contribution towards the schools' maintenance funds.    
In contrast to other types of maintained school, only 90% of the capital costs of a voluntary aided school are met by government. The foundation contributes the remaining 10% of the capital costs, and many VA schools belong to Diocesan Maintenance Schemes to help them to manage those costs.  
The foundation usually owns the school's land and buildings, although there are instances where VA schools use Local Authority land and buildings.
The foundation appoints a majority of the school governors. The governing body runs the school, employs the staff and decides the school's admission arrangements, subject to rules imposed by central government. Pupils follow the National Curriculum, except that faith schools may teach Religious Education according to their own faith.
Within the maintained sector in England, approximately 22% of primary schools and 17% of secondary schools are voluntary aided, including all of the Roman Catholic schools and the schools of non-Christian faiths. Almost all voluntary aided primary schools and 93% of voluntary aided secondary schools are linked to a religious body, usually either the Church of England or the Catholic Church, with a minority of other faiths.
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