The department purchases sites for future free schools where it represents value for money. We do not pay in excess of what a site is worth or purchase expensive sites if there are better value for money alternatives in the area.
Official market value is subjective and at a specific point in time, we do carry out Red Book Valuations as per Treasury Green Book guidelines but these reports are carried out as a guide to the sites value and are treated as commercially confidential documents.
The ESFA acquired 175 freehold sites between 2011 and 2016. On average, they paid 19% above Red Book Valuations for free schools with 20 sites costing 60% or more and 31 sites costing less than the Red Book Valuation. Any site that has been acquired that is 60% above the Red Book Valuation requires the ESFA Accounting Officer and HM Treasury approval.