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The comparison made by Colin Weatherly (Letters, 22 October) between school education in Scotland and Finland may well 
be one that merits further examination.

However, there is no advantage to be gained for 95 per cent of schools in Scotland by constantly tinkering with the rules for the independent 5 per cent outside of local authority control.

The financial and educational choices of the families and pupils at those schools are their own matter.

What is undeniable, to pursue Mr Weatherly's financial argument, is that the contribution the independent sector makes to the Scottish economy far outstrips the reduced rate of non-domestic rates paid through charitable
status.

A recent independent report indicated that the sector contributes almost £500 million gross value added (GVA) and around 11,200 jobs in operational benefits alone.

This is comparable to the impact of some of Scotland’s top universities. Independent schools contribute £263m in Exchequer benefits alone.

Independent schools pay 20p in the pound in rates along with the other 23,500 charities in Scotland, including other fee-charging educational bodies.

Those rates are paid from parental fee income and are new to the Exchequer, unlike rates nominally charged to local authority schools which themselves are met from the funds provided by central and local taxation.

Last but not least, as part of the toughest test of public benefit of schools anywhere in the world, independent schools also contribute a sum in excess of £35m each year in financial assistance, the majority of which is means-tested.

It would be interesting to know what Mr Weatherly, and others who occasionally wish for a charity and tax regime unique to a few dozen independent schools, thinks is a better deal for the Scottish economy, and Scotland’s tax-payers, never mind 31,00 pupils.

John Edward

Scottish Council of 
Independent Schools

Dublin Street

Edinburgh