What Are Voluntary Aided Schools?

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For many students and parents alike, the UK school system can be a bit overwhelming and confusing to navigate. This is partly due to the nature of schools in the UK, and the different types. It can be difficult to decide where to apply because of all the choices. This can make a stressful period even more overwhelming. One of the types of schools are voluntary aided schools. If you are curious or trying to understand how voluntary aided schools work, this article will give you plenty of information on this topic.

To put it briefly, voluntary aided schools are schools partly funded and run by an organisation that is not the local authority. This organisation usually has a religious or faith background, though this is not always the case. These schools are also funded by the local authority and occasionally by parent donations. Most voluntary aided schools also have a slightly different curriculum than that of a regular secondary school, in subjects such as Religious Education.

If you would like to understand more about how voluntary aided schools are run and what they are more specifically, this article could be useful.

What is meant by voluntary aided schools?

To put it briefly, voluntary aided schools are schools funded by an external group, as well as the state. As this group is usually of a religious background, voluntary aided schools are often the same as faith schools.

Voluntary aided schools are similar to regular community schools in the regard that both are funded by the local authority or government. However, voluntary aided schools usually have to pay 10% of the total capital cost, at least. This statistic has been taken from the UK Government website in this article. This 10% usually comes from a religious body, such as the Church of England funding CoE primary schools.

The religious education in voluntary aided schools is set by the governing body and is inspected by someone appointed by the religious order rather than Ofsted. Voluntary aided schools can choose to focus their Religious Education subject completely on their faith, unlike other schools. They may also elect to teach a syllabus on other religions as well, although this is not required.

Whilst not all voluntary aided schools also classify as faith schools, and emphasise a religious focus, many voluntary aided schools are classified as such.

To learn more about faith schools, check out this helpful article from Think Student.

Who are the voluntary aided schools governing bodies?

In short, a majority of the governing body is made up of “Foundation Governors”, meaning they are appointed by the voluntary foundation helping fund and run the school. The rest of the governors are usually parents or staff.

Foundation governors are often appointed to governing bodies of voluntary aided schools in order to preserve the religious integrity of the school.

There are also foundation governors in voluntary controlled schools, Roman Catholic schools, and Church of England schools. Combined, these schools make up one third of the state school sector. This statistic is taken from this article at Governors For Schools.

It is the religious body and governors that set the syllabus, therefore Religious Education may be limited to just the affiliated religion, as well as the RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) subject may also be taught in accordance to the school’s ethos.

The school is the admissions authority and can select pupils on the basis of religion if admissions are full.

What is the difference between voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools?

There can be some confusion about the difference between voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools. Both are religious-focused schools, and both employ a religious curriculum. Both are maintained schools, however, their differences lie in how they are run.

Voluntary controlled schools are seen as having a “lighter touch” in how they are governed. Only a small proportion of the governing body is made up of foundation governors, with the majority being selected with secular guidelines. The syllabus for Religious Education usually aligns with the local syllabus for Religious Education. In contrast, the governing body in voluntary aided schools is made up of mostly foundation governors.

Voluntary controlled schools are also run by the local authority, whereas in voluntary aided schools, the religious organisation gets more of a say in how the school is run.

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