THE BLOG

Charitable Status for Private Schools Is Wrong

22/08/2014 12:10 BST | Updated 21/10/2014 10:59 BST

In 2011, Fettes College, a selective private school, saw its tax liability reduced from £209,139 to £41,828, a taxpayer funded subsidy of £167, 311.

George Watson's, another fee-paying Edinburgh school, enjoyed a taxpayer subsidy of £329,119, paying only £83,530 of its £412,649 bill.

Gordonstoun's, whose alumni include the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, was reduced from £148,086 to £29,618, a taxpayer funded subsidy of £118, 468. 

Wester Hailes state school, where over 40% of pupils are are eligible for free school-meals, paid its tax liability of £261,873 in full. 

This is a pattern reproduced across Scotland and is due to the current charitable status of private schools. 

This charitable status allows Scotland's elitist and privileged private schools, which serve only 4% of pupils, 80% mandatory discount on non-domestic rates, whilst financially-strapped state schools, which serve 96% of pupils, pay the full sum.

How can this be right or fair? 

I have created this petition in order to urge the Scottish Government to rectify this inequity by removing charitable status, and thus taxpayer subsidy, from private, fee-paying schools.

A private, fee-paying school is understood to be a school where one pays to receive general compulsory education.   

Please sign if you agree.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/charitablestatus

Whilst the issues raised by this petition can be addressed with the powers of the current devolved parliament, they are also of great significance to the referendum. For many of us voting yes, it is in the hope of a fairer and more equal society. Where do private schools fit in to this vision? How can the Scottish Government's commitment to education based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay be reconciled with state subsidy of private schools?