DCSIMG

Edinburgh private schools retain charitable status

Fettes College is one of two Edinburgh private schools to retain its charitable status. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Fettes College is one of two Edinburgh private schools to retain its charitable status. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

Two of Edinburgh’s private schools – including Fettes College attended by ex-PM Tony Blair – have are to retain charitable status, and another in Aberdeen has met the requirements.

The Office of Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) had, in January, given Fettes College and St George School for Girls time to comply with regard to “unduly restrictive fees”.

As a result of its initial assessment, OSCR had issued directions to the Governors of both schools requiring them to provide assistance in respect of high fees or widen access.

Both have now done so.

In the case of Fettes College, the OSCR said: “In particular it has acted to clarify the process for awarding means-tested bursaries to ensure that these are focused on those in financial need. Some 80 pupils, 10.6% of the school roll, now receive financial assistance through bursaries that account for 8.4% of the school’s income.”

And of St Georges, the regulator said it had also taken sufficient measures, stating: “As one element of this, some 102 pupils, 13.7% of the school roll, now receive financial assistance through bursaries that account for 6.9% of the school’s income.”

The schools, along with the International School of Aberdeen, which was deemed to have met the charitable requirements, were all examined as part of the regulator’s review of all of the country’s fee-charging schools.

The OSCR added: “The International School of Aberdeen was a complex case, where potential private benefit to employers in the oil industry was the issue of concern rather than simply the mitigation of high school fees, where provision of bursaries was considered by the Regulator to be sufficient.

“After full and careful consideration OSCR has determined that, on balance, the school meets the charity test.”

Martin Tyson, OSCR’s Head of Registration, said that the process was aimed at maintaining public confidence in charitable status, by ensuring that Scottish charities meet the required standard.

He said: “As regulator, we must ensure that charities provide public benefit as set out in the legislation.

“This process is now part of our ongoing work. Our experience is that, where we have issued Directions to widen access, schools have takenthe necessary steps to comply and thereby retain charitable status.

“Fettes College and St George’s School for Girls have both addressed the issues we identified as a priority and have taken early action to widen access to an extent consistent with earlier cases that have met the charity test.

He added: “In the case of the International School of Aberdeen, as well as the level of financial assistance provided we were interested in the comparison of private and public benefit in the school’sparticular circumstances.

“After careful consideration, we have decided that, on balance, the school does meet the charity test.”

 

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