FE Voices

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

The government has announced changes to the planning system which will make it easier to set up new state-funded schools. This precedes the government’s recent announcement on 22 May, that the Department for Education has approved a further 102 free schools, which are due to open in 2014.

Under the new rules it will be possible to change the use of most buildings currently used for business purposes or as hotels, residential institutions or for leisure purposes (such as cinemas or gymnasiums) to state-funded schools without the need for planning permission.

Whilst planning permission is not required for the change of use, it is subject to the approval of the local planning authority regarding transport and highways, noise impacts and contamination. The school must then operate in accordance with those approved details.

The new rules also allow most buildings to be used as a state-funded school for a single academic year without the need for planning permission. This temporary change of use applies to most buildings. Before the temporary change of use can take effect, the Education Minister must first approve the site for use as a school and notify the local planning authority of its proposed opening date. This provision may be useful to schools seeking to set up temporary premises pending completion of new school facilities.

Schools already benefit from permitted several development rights, which allow certain works to be carried out without the need for planning permission. Those rights are subject to conditions and include:

  • Construction of a new building (up to 100 square metres) to be used as part of the school or for school purposes; and


  • Provision of a hard surface (or its replacement) for school purposes

The new rules will also allow schools to build higher boundary walls or fences of up to 2 metres alongside a highway. This is subject to the condition that the wall or fence does not create an obstruction which is likely to be a danger to highway users.

These new rules came into force on 30 May 2013.



The government appears committed to free schools and academies despite fierce criticism; most notably from the National Association of Head Teachers which recently passed a vote of no confidence in the government’s education policies.

Whilst the changes to the planning system will be welcomed by those wishing to set up new stated-funded schools, they will still have to engage with the planning system. For instance, it is likely that a local planning authority will require those wishing to set up a new state-funded school to submit information relating to transport, noise and/or contamination prior to giving its approval of those matters.  This requirement could prove onerous and costly in practice and it will be interesting to see how this works in practice.

These reforms to the planning system have, however, been criticised as they limit the role of local people and others in the creation of free schools and academies under the planning process. By making the change of use to an academy or free school permitted development (subject only to the authority’s prior approval of transport, noise and contamination issues), the views of local people will have a very limited role.

This is particularly interesting given the duty to consult prior to becoming an academy, with the Department for Education suggesting that staff, parents, the local community and parish council should typically be consulted. These very people are then largely excluded from the choice of premises to accommodate the new school.

Those wishing to set up a new state-funded school should also bear in mind that if any external alterations are required to the building to facilitate its use as a school, then a planning application may still be required.

Nevertheless, the reforms do remove an element of uncertainty caused by the planning system in the creation of new free schools and academies. Indeed, there have recently been a number of schools refused planning permission prior to the new rules taking effect. For further education colleges wishing to sponsor academies, these reforms to the planning system will be seen as a welcome development.

James Cark is a solicitor at Thomas Eggar


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 3 hours 14 minutes ago

South West Institute of Technology centre (SWIoT)

Petroc Principal Sean Mackney is supporting Love Our Colleges week by showing off the build of our South West Institute of Technology centre...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 3 hours 16 minutes ago

RT @FrancisAlun: We talked a little bit about Oldham and social mobility with @TomBewick and guests. It was fun to do and #skillsworldlive…
View Original Tweet

Claire Russell has published a new article: Education world now putting more focus on planning 5 hours 31 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page