Two private schools to merge ahead of ‘tax bombshell’

Picture: Morrison's Academy
Picture: Morrison's Academy
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Two of Scotland’s top independent high schools are set to merge as the industry braces itself for a change in tax rules which will see them lose their charitable status.

Morrison’s Academy in Crieff and Beaconhurst School in Bridge of Allan are to create one independent school from the beginning of the 2018/2019 school year.

The management and financial ownership of the enlarged organisation will fall to Morrison’s, following a marked decline in senior pupil numbers at Beaconhurst, which will keep its synonymous nursery and junior school, which serves nearly 200 pupils.

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Morrison’s Academy’s related nursery and junior school are unaffected by the move, which will see staff at Beaconhurst having to apply for new jobs at the enlarged Morrison’s Academy.

Fees at Morrison’s which boasts actor Ewan McGregor and Olympic curler Eve Muirhead among its famous alumni, are around £4,300 a term for secondary school pupils.

The sector is currently preparing for a £5m tax hike imposed by the Scottish Government after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced plans to remove private schools’ charitable relief.

Tom Preston, Chairman of the Board of Governors at Beaconhurst School, said: “It is no secret that the affordability of a private education in Scotland has been increasingly problematic for families and schools alike. Our priority throughout this whole process has been on creating a sustainable solution to secure the best schooling for our pupils.

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“While the Beaconhurst Board has explored a variety of alternative options to joining forces with Morrison’s Academy, we unanimously agreed this was both sustainable and the option with the greatest potential.

“While we fully appreciate and acknowledge that moving schools is often difficult for pupils, our first priority was to safeguard their long-term future.”

Landel Johnston, Chairman of the Board of Governors at Morrison’s Academy, said: “We have been working very closely with the Governors of Beaconhurst and their senior staff over recent days to identify what help and offering we, at Morrison’s Academy, can make to assist Beaconhurst’s pupils and parents with some reassurance of how we can provide continuity in education in a similar or complementary environment to their current offering.”