education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Community Use of Schools – Hiring and Licensing

Policy

This policy explains how schools can enter hire and licence agreements to facilitate community use of school facilities.

Hire and licence agreements are generally for short term (up to 5 years), occasional or one-off agreements to hire or licence school premises to third parties. For formal agreements regarding the construction or upgrade of a shared-use facility over a long-term period, refer to the Community Use of Schools – Community Joint Use Agreements Policy.

Summary

  • Schools are strongly encouraged to share their facilities with their local communities. Hire and licence agreements can facilitate shared-use arrangements that benefit both schools and their local communities.
  • School councils can enter:
    • hire agreements – for occasional or one-off community use of school facilities
    • licence agreements – for regular community use of school facilities.
  • School councils are advised to use the correct template when entering into hire or licence agreements. Templates for all hire and licensing arrangements can be found on the Resources tab.
  • Schools must upload copies of all hire and licence agreements to the department’s Asset Information Management System (AIMS) or retain copies and evidence of insurance (where necessary) on site until they have access to AIMS.
  • Fees paid by third parties to school councils for the use of school facilities must allow schools to recover additional maintenance and operational costs (for example, for electricity, water, cleaning, insurance, maintenance), and lifecycle costs proportional to each party’s use of the facility, but must not be set higher than required for cost recovery.
  • Schools are required to annually to review all their hire and licence agreements to ensure they continue to follow all departmental policies and processes. This includes ensuring that parties hiring or licencing the facility are using the facility for an approved purpose.

Details

The department encourages schools to partner with local government and community organisations to explore sharing facilities and developing and using school infrastructure to benefit the wider community’s educational, recreational, sporting or cultural needs.

Hire and licence agreements facilitate strong partnerships with the community by setting out each party’s rights and responsibilities, minimise risk and create certainty for all parties. They also ensure key rights and obligations are clearly outlined and allow school councils and the community users to discuss and agree on specific clauses such as cleaning of facilities, cost of utilities and insurance requirements.

Hire and licence agreements must comply with the department’s legal requirements and clearly outline each party’s responsibilities to protect the school council against liability. School councils have the power to enter into agreements with third parties for the use of school facilities when they are not required for ordinary school purposes.

Before signing any agreement with a third party for the use of school facilities, schools are encouraged to consult with all key parties to the agreement and the department’s Legal Division, particularly regarding any long-term agreement such as a licence that may impact the school community or neighbourhood.

Proposed use

School facilities subject to hire and licence agreements must only be for the purpose of educational, recreational, sporting, or cultural activities for students, the local community or young persons. Any other purpose requires the Minister’s approval.

Hire agreements

Hire agreements are suitable for occasional or one-off community use of school facilities. Examples include a local youth group hiring a school hall for an awards night, or a theatre group wanting to stage a play over 4 nights.

School councils must use the School council hire agreement template (DOCX)External Link when entering into a hire agreement. Refer to Completing a school council hire agreement template for advice on how to complete the template.

Licence agreements

Licence agreements should be used for regular, ongoing (but not more than 5 years) community use of school facilities by third parties. Examples include a local drama group using a school performing arts centre every Wednesday evening for a year, or a local football club hiring the school oval for a season.

School councils seeking to enter into licence agreements to place advertising on school sites should refer to the Advertising Policy.

School Councils must use the School council licence agreement template (DOCX)External Link when entering into a licence agreement. Refer to Completing a school council licence agreement template for advice on how to complete the template.

Community joint use agreements

Community joint use agreements are more detailed, long-term agreements used for constructing or upgrading jointly used community facilities such as stadiums, sporting grounds and theatres. The initial term of such an agreement would usually be 20 to 30 years. For more information about community joint use agreements, refer the Community Use of Schools – Community Joint Use Agreements Policy.

Insurance

As a general rule, the department requires third parties using school premises to supply proof that they are adequately covered by insurance. This is provided by way of a Certificate of Currency (also known as a Confirmation of Cover) which is a summary of the cover provided by an insurance agency.

Most third parties need to provide a Certificate of Currency that demonstrates that they have public liability insurance for a minimum of $10 million in place throughout the period of the hire agreement or licence. Not-for-profit community groups and private individuals seeking to hire or licence school facilities for low-risk activities are not required to provide a Certificate of Currency. However, these entities must be informed that the school’s own public liability insurance does not extend to cover them when they hire out school facilities and they are still encouraged by the department to obtain their own public liability insurance where deemed appropriate.

The requirement to provide a Certificate of Currency remains for all commercial entities and for all community groups who are:

  • engaging in high-risk activities
  • required to have insurance by their association (for example, incorporated sporting clubs)
  • required to have insurance for regulatory purposes (for example, state law requiring certain business to have insurance).

For further information on insurance requirements for third parties please refer to the Insurance for Schools Policy or contact the department’s Legal Division for advice and assistance.

Fees

Licence fees paid to school councils by community users must:

  • allow schools to recover additional maintenance and operational costs (cleaning and utilities), and lifecycle costs proportional to each party’s use of the facility
  • not be set higher than required for cost recovery.

Leasing

A lease is another type of agreement involving use of school facilities. Leases differ from other types of shared use arrangements in that the third party is not a hirer or licensee, but a tenant with exclusive possession to the leased area.

School councils are not permitted to enter into or sign leases. The Minister for Education or authorised delegate enters into a lease on behalf of the school council. For example, ministerial approval is required to grant a leasehold to construct a childcare facility on a school site. School property may be leased to a third party where schools have over-entitled space that is not required for ordinary school purposes or the school may seek to lease additional property from a third party to operate an alternative education setting.

This restriction on leasing does not apply to the leasing of school equipment.

Schools considering a new leasing arrangement should contact their regional office and the Victorian School Building Authority’s Property Unit – refer to the contacts section of this page.

Schools as polling places

The Victorian Electoral Commission and the Australian Electoral Commission may use schools as polling places during state and federal elections. For more information, refer to the department’s Elections – Schools as Voting Centres and Polling Places Policy.

Compliance and monitoring

The Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance Policy sets out the department’s compliance and monitoring process that applies to all key asset management activities, including hiring and licensing of school facilities. This section of the policy sets out the compliance and monitoring requirements that apply to hiring and licensing, in line with the 3 principal steps of the Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance Policy: Identify, Manage and Monitor.

Identify

The first step to ensure you are meeting your school’s compliance obligations when hiring or licensing school facilities is to understand which type of agreement you are seeking to put in place and the requirements specific to that type of agreement.

Schools with access to the Asset Information Management System (AIMS) must upload all hire and licence agreements into the school documents folder on AIMS.

Schools that have not yet been provided access to AIMS will continue to retain hire and licence agreements and evidence of insurance (where necessary) on site until they have access to AIMS.

Manage

Schools are required to review all their hire and licence agreements annually to ensure they meet the following criteria:

  • that departmental policies and processes have been followed including ensuring that the party seeking to hire or licence the facility will be using the facility for an approved purpose
  • that the correct template is used when entering into an agreement
  • that the party seeking agreement ensures the third party holds the required level of public liability insurance.

Monitor

The department monitors compliance with mandatory requirements (using AIMS where possible) and responds to non-compliance at a school and system level through direct intervention or revision of policies and procedures.

The department will monitor compliance with the mandatory requirements for community use of school facilities using information, including community use agreements, uploaded to AIMS.

The department also monitors compliance with this policy through the Integrity and Assurance Division (Annual Financial Audit).

Support for schools

A suite of standard hire and licence agreement templates are available on the Resources tab.

AIMS will assist schools to manage their assets and related compliance obligations within a single portal. Schools not yet provided access to AIMS must continue to maintain manual records that reflect the completion of compliance obligations.

As schools gradually transition to using AIMS they will be provided with a transition date, staff training and support. Refer to the AIMS Advice for further information.

Relevant legislation

Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic)External Link

Department policy explaining how schools can enter hire and licence agreements to facilitate community use of school facilities

Reviewed 16 November 2022

Policy last updated

16 November 2022

Scope

  • Schools
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