Net capacity for schools

The net capacity is a calculation of the number of children that a school can reasonably be expected to accommodate. We use the net capacity figures to help us with schools organisation.

The capacity figures for primary and secondary schools have been calculated using the Department for Education ‘net capacity assessment method’. This method, or formula, takes into account the floor space of the teaching areas and how those teaching areas are used, for example, general teaching area, practical teaching area, laboratories etc. The teaching area information is then used to calculate a figure for the school’s capacity to accommodate pupils. 

For primary schools, the net capacity is calculated on the basis of the number and size of spaces designated as ‘class bases’. For secondary schools, it is based on the number, size and type of time-tabled teaching spaces and the age range of the school. In both cases, this is checked against the total usable space. 

Net capacity assessments do not apply to nursery schools, special schools or pupil referral units, for which an appropriate Department for Education Building Bulletin can be used to calculate appropriate space requirements. 

The capacity of academies is based on the number of places the school has agreed to provide as reflected in the school’s funding agreement however, the net capacity calculation is still applied to ensure consistency across the school estate. 

Further information on school design guidance and net capacity.

Page last reviewed: 05 October 2020