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School operations

Capacity and Area Allocation

Overview

This advice describes site capacity, built capacity and additional capacity considerations for Victorian government schools.

Summary

  • To ensure equity across schools, the School Facilities Schedules (the Schedules) — edugate login required, indicate the spaces required for a school to deliver its curriculum to a certain number of students.
  • Site capacity is the maximum number of teaching spaces that can be accommodated on a school site.
  • Built capacity indicates the number of students that can be accommodated in the school’s learning spaces.
  • The Victorian School Building Authority calculates the built capacity of each school based on information in its asset information system.
  • This advice falls within all stages of the School Asset Lifecycle — Plan, Build, Manage and Dispose. 

Advice

Capacity is the number of students or teaching spaces a school can accommodate. For schools to manage their enrolments and accommodation, it is important they know their built capacity.

If a school needs to verify their building information, they should contact their Department regional office. The regional office will notify the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) if a review is required.

Schools can use their learning spaces flexibly, but are discouraged from making changes that reduce their built capacity. Any changes to school spaces must adhere to the Repurposing and Renaming Spaces Policy.

How is current built capacity calculated?

The VSBA calculates each school’s built capacity based on information in its asset information system. This includes school SAMS plans.

Primary schools 

The built capacity of primary schools is calculated by identifying the number of classrooms (or equivalent general learning spaces) located on a school site and multiplying that figure by 25 (students per classroom or equivalent general learning space).

In certain circumstances, adjustments may need to be made for an average class size of 21 for P-2, for example, when a school has a disproportionate number of that age group.

The calculation then assesses specialist learning spaces, such as art, music, library and multi-purpose spaces, per the Schedules.

Secondary schools

The built capacity of secondary schools is calculated by identifying the total number of classrooms (or equivalent general learning spaces) located on a school site and comparing them to the relevant enrolment band outlined in the Schedules.

The built capacity for secondary schools allows for some transferability between general and specialist learning spaces.

P-9 and P-12 schools

The primary school built capacity methodology is applied to primary learning spaces and the secondary school built capacity methodology is applied to secondary learning spaces as classified in the VSBA’s Building and Room Report.

Specialist schools (for students with disability)

The built capacity of specialist schools is calculated by dividing the total classroom area of a school by the average classroom space required by students attending that school. The amount of classroom space required by students attending specialist schools varies according to each school’s specialisation.

This approach reflects the fact that specialist schools use more flexible class sizes than primary and secondary schools.

Additional built capacity considerations

If a school has excess (non-entitled) specialist learning spaces, these may be counted towards built capacity, provided that they are fit for purpose as a classroom (or general learning space).

Buildings classified as entitled spaces for the purposes of Student Resource Package and other funding are counted towards a school’s capacity.

Trade Training Centres, Australian Technical Colleges and other non-entitled facilities provided from Commonwealth Government funding are not included in the built capacity count.

How is site capacity calculated?

Site capacity takes into account relevant site factors, including physical characteristics of individual sites and the needs of the school community. More specifically, the key factors in considering the capacity of a site are:

  • safety
  • physical constraints
  • curriculum
  • health and wellbeing
  • the effect on, and capacity at, surrounding schools

The VSBA calculates the site capacity of schools on a case-by-case basis, especially if school clusters (groups of surrounding schools) have current or future growth pressures. In some circumstances, to accommodate strong local growth, the built capacity of a site may be increased beyond what was previously envisaged.

School facilities schedules

To ensure equity across schools, the Schedules indicate the spaces required for a school to deliver its curriculum for a certain number of students.

The Schedules are tables that set out the number and type of learning spaces and/or square metres of space that are required for a school of a certain size and type – for example, primary, secondary, special and special developmental.

The VSBA maintains a register of each school’s facilities area. A school’s required facilities area, as per the Schedules and the school’s enrolments, are key to calculating resource allocations, including:

  • determining the size of new facilities in capital works projects
  • allocating resources and funding for maintenance and cleaning
  • insurance
  • allocating relocatable buildings

A school may have space in addition to its allocated facilities area. This space is a school's designated ‘excess space’. Excess space attracts less government funding to clean and maintain.

Schools with excess space may purchase insurance to protect against damage or loss. In most circumstances, the Department is unable to provide additional funding to reinstate excess space if it is damaged, for example in a flood. Additionally, facilities in excess of, or excluded from a school’s area allocation, are not covered by the VSBA’s Make-Safe Program. Refer to the Insurance Arrangements Guidelines for Schools 2018 for more information about insurance requirements for schools.

Definitions

Built capacity
A school’s built capacity indicates the number of students that can be accommodated in the school’s existing learning spaces (permanent and relocatable buildings) according to the Department's School Facilities Schedules (edugate login required).

Site capacity
Site capacity is the maximum number of teaching spaces that can be accommodated on a school site.

Relevant legislation

Department advice on site capacity, built capacity and additional capacity considerations for schools

Reviewed 04 October 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Victorian School Building Authority

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