Leader comment: Axing of private schools’ rates relief a bad move

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The abolition of charity business-rate relief for private schools in the Scottish Budget is a retrograde step.

It will almost certainly mean fees will need to be increased, putting the charitable work currently carried out by some of Scotland’s leading educational establishments in doubt.

The SNP appears to set itself against private schools, when it could have sought to use them as a valuable partner. Picture: Getty

The SNP appears to set itself against private schools, when it could have sought to use them as a valuable partner. Picture: Getty

This not only includes bursaries for bright children from poor backgrounds, but the sharing of facilities such as sports pitches with local clubs.

If Scotland will not treat private schools as charities in terms of business rates, it may not be fair to expect them to maintain their current level of pro bono work, although doubtless some will choose to do so.

The politics of envy and jealousy may play well in some quarters, but this decision is also likely to result in more pressure being put on the state education system.

READ MORE: Lord Foulkes: Why private schools harm our education system

Parents who find they are now priced out of the private sector – people who through their taxes helped fund state schools while not actually using them – will instead send their children to the local schools, increasing class sizes and budgetary pressures.

The SNP appears to set itself against private schools, when it could have sought to use them as a valuable partner.

READ MORE: Edinburgh private school head accuses George Foulkes of ‘vendetta’

A previous version of this article said the Scottish Budget would abolish private schools’ charitable status, but they only stand to lose their charity business rates relief if the Scottish Parliament approves Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s plan.