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to think private schools having charitable status is taking the piss

(1002 Posts)
zanz1bar Tue 14-Jul-09 09:21:32

Most private schools have their charitable status as an accident of history. Does a school like Eton really deserve the same financial status as the NSPCC.

Can it really be justified by a few subsidized places.

scienceteacher Tue 14-Jul-09 09:23:29

One of the categories of charities in this country is education, so no it is not unreasonable for independent schools to be charities.

scienceteacher Tue 14-Jul-09 09:26:41

Here is the list of charitible purposes:

for the public benefit, and its purpose can be described as for promoting at least one of the following:
the advancement of education;
the advancement of religion;
the advancement of health or the saving of lives;
the advancement of citizenship or community development;
the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;
the advancement of amateur sport;
the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;
the advancement of environmental protection or improvement;
the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
the advancement of animal welfare;
the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown, or of the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services;

KingRolo Tue 14-Jul-09 09:30:09

No, yanbu.

A charity for the 'advancement of education' for young women in say, Kenya, is one thing but a charity for the 'advancement of education' for young upper class men is another.

Niecie Tue 14-Jul-09 09:31:45

I can see your point but most private schools aren't like Eton. A lot of them are struggling financially.

zanz1bar Tue 14-Jul-09 09:34:45

I understand that many of these private schools were originally set up to educate the parish children or connected to a hospital or church but they are huge landowning financial institutions now are far removed from their original reasons for existence.

KingRolo Tue 14-Jul-09 09:35:10

If they are struggling financially surely they can increase the fees.

scienceteacher Tue 14-Jul-09 09:37:07

Why should it matter how much land they have? Most schools will have restrictive covenants on their land in any case - they can't do anything with it other than use it as a school.

The vast majority of schools in this country set the level of fees to just cover costs. There are a smidgeon of privately owned schools, but they have to compete with other independent schools, so the fees cannot be out of whack with the market.

zanz1bar Tue 14-Jul-09 09:37:49

Many charities are struggling these days, charities that do contribute to the welfare of say hospitals.

scienceteacher Tue 14-Jul-09 09:38:04

Raising fees does nothing your left wing ideology. It just makes them more exclusive.

OrangeFish Tue 14-Jul-09 09:40:42

For some reason I don't cringe that badly at Private Schools as I do about the National Trust and other stately homes making profit for their owners while keeping a full force of retired people serving the needs of the paying clients or doing the gardens with little more than a thank you (cup of tea dear?)

Metella Tue 14-Jul-09 09:40:44

Raising fees would drive more children into the state sector - the government is already struggling with paying for extra children as it is, how can they afford to take on any more?

Bramshott Tue 14-Jul-09 09:41:16

What the Charity Commission are saying though, is that in order to be charities, independent schools have to demonstrate public benefit (this is a new tightening of the rules and applies to all charities) but doing things like offering bursaries, or allowing other schools to use their facilities and expertise etc. And some schools are doing this fine, whereas others are only paying lip service to the concept.

Seems fair to me - that way the schools have a choice - jump through the hoops to retain their charitable status, or forego it and function as a company.

Charities do a wide range of different things, for a wide range of different people, and the most over-arching definition is that they are not trying to make a profit, which does generally apply to fee-paying schools too.

If you argue that independent schools should not have charitable status, you could just as well argue that state school PTAs should not have charitable status, or that cultural organisations should not have charitable status.

zanz1bar Tue 14-Jul-09 09:42:36

I am not anti private schools and I do understand that a lot are tied up in covenants and legal red tape dating back to the 15th century, but I think having charitable status is taking the piss.

Laws can be changed, isnt it about time in the 21st century this outdated situation is stopped.

KingRolo Tue 14-Jul-09 09:43:47

Surely most of the charitable contributions come from parents anyway? Aren't they just fees under a different name?

scienceteacher Tue 14-Jul-09 09:44:34

What have you got against their charitible basis?

ABetaDad Tue 14-Jul-09 09:45:32

Well my DSs go to a private school which is not like Eton and most of the parents are really financially struggling to meet the fees. I should say at least 5% of the school is leaving this year to go back to state. Do also remember the parents all pay the fees out of after tax salary and also save the state the cost of educating their children.

I know two schools are having their charitable status removed because they are not giving enough subsidised places away.

Where does the charity commission think the subsidy comes form? It comes from the pockets of full fee paying parents and if they put the fees up to subsidise places then some parents on full fees will not be able to afford it. One set of parents will get a subsidised place while the other set wil lose their place all together. In effect this just taxes one set of parents to fund another. There is no net benefit.

YABU - the charitable status saves the parents the VAT only while the state saves a lot more by not having top provide a state school place for the child. This is class hatered as a sop to left and nothing more. I suppose many Govt ministers and MPs now have grown up kids so they wil not have to pay the fees anymore to send their kids private -as many of them did. Hypocrites.

KingRolo Tue 14-Jul-09 09:47:07

Orangefish - good point about the National Trust but I suppose you could argue that without it many of the UK's stately homes would have been converted into hotels, spas and nightclubs by now.

2sugarsandapuppy Tue 14-Jul-09 09:47:54

ABD, yes, I think they are taking the piss.

scienceteacher Tue 14-Jul-09 09:48:53

Can you be a little more eloquent, 2 sugars? What exactly is your issue?

ABetaDad Tue 14-Jul-09 09:51:08

OrangeFish - I agree on the National Trust and what is also little known is that very often there are all sorts of dignitaries and decendents of the people that gave those homes to the National Trust still living in a lot of NT property for very low rents while the NT looks after the palce and repairs them out of charitable funds.

hatwoman Tue 14-Jul-09 09:53:53

YANBU. if someone choses to educate their children privately why should I, as a tax payer, effectively subsidise them? The exception I might make is where parents genuinely have no other choice because the state is not providing - eg in cases of particular special needs where educational requirements are only met by a non-state provider.

ABetaDad Tue 14-Jul-09 09:55:15

By the way, I also believe I heard that the Charity Commission has also said the schools that attempt to avoid this issue and just turn themselves into a private company and give up their charitable status voluntarily and offer no subsidized places will be prevented from doing so.

2sugarsandapuppy Tue 14-Jul-09 09:55:52

OK ....

H was a Bursar for many years at an indepedant school in Oxford. Tell me, because I don't get it, why they should have that status.

wolfnipplechips Tue 14-Jul-09 09:55:55

YABU providing bursaries for children whose parents could not otherwise afford it such as teachers and nurses is charitable.

I don't know about Eton but i know that dds school is a very small independent school that would probably have to close were it not for its charitable status.

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