Private schools contribute £125m to Edinburgh economy, report finds

Private schools educate 14% of Edinburgh pupils but face a �5m a year tax hike if plans to remove charitable status are approved
Private schools educate 14% of Edinburgh pupils but face a �5m a year tax hike if plans to remove charitable status are approved
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Top independent schools contribute £125 million a year to Edinburgh’s economy, a new report has revealed.

The ten Edinburgh independent schools together educate around 11,700 nursery, primary and secondary pupils, as well as employing 2,580 staff.

Their contribution was confirmed in a report as the Scottish capital’s leading fee-paying schools, including Fettes College, Heriot’s and Watson’s, face a £5m tax hike.

John Edward, from report author the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), said the sector was in “rude health” despite Brexit and ten years of economic woe.

“For the first time it gives some proper detail to anecdotal evidence that Edinburgh is probably the best-served city in the English speaking world in terms of independent education,” Mr Edward said. Under Holyrood proposals, independent schools would lose charity status along with their exemption from business rates. Announcing the move last year, finance secretary Derek Mackay said: “The recommendations strike the right balance between offering a competitive and sustainable taxation environment while delivering sufficient resources to fund the public services on which we all rely.”

The SCIS report found the number of jobs supported by the institutions were greater than the number of people employed in the city’s food and drink sector.

And researchers concluded independent schools made a contribution through taxes paid and collected as well as through public sector cost savings from the schools’ provision of education.

The total contribution amounted to £85m in 2017-18, of which the City of Edinburgh Council benefited by £47m. This included educating 14 per cent of Edinburgh primary and secondary school aged pupils, saving more than £46m in the capital and more than £14m elsewhere in Scotland.

Mr Edward said SCIS planned to showcase the importance of the independence sector to the Scottish economy and the positive impact it had in local authorities across country.

In a joint statement, Edinburgh school heads said: “The independent school offer in Edinburgh is unique in both its breadth and scale.

“It covers all forms of education provision – all-through, preparatory, day, boarding, single sex or co-educational.”

The independent schools also offer SQA qualifications, GCSE and A-Level, International Baccalaureate and Steiner Curriculum.