A Sound Education – affordable and accessible – or not!
By Mohammad Shakir
Some of you may know about that many private schools in the UK are registered charities – in fact a quick search on the Charity Commission website shows that over 25,000 organisations are educational in nature. Whether they are after school clubs, scouts or pre-school play groups; all organisations are involved in supporting the education and development of the youth today.
What you may not know is that expensive private schools such as Eton College, University College School and Highgate School are all registered charities. One of these private institutions, Fettes College in Edinburgh is under threat of losing its charitable status unless it greatly increases access for poorer students within the next 18 months. The school charges over £9,000 per term for boarding pupils and little over £7,000 for day pupils.
For a charity to have charitable status, it has to demonstrate that it provides public benefit. While the fact that admission and boarding fees Fettes is seen as a barrier to an education at the school, the question remains – should schools which charge fees, close to the price of one year at university keep their charitable status.
I feel that schools in general offer an immediate public benefit to pupils by the fact that they are a place to learn – so schools are welcome to a charitable status on that ground. But the question of access is one that needs to be looked at. There are many state schools which offer a rounded and engaging education for many children, which are over subscribed. A private school is an option which parents should be able to consider as a viable alternative to over subscribed state schools – if the child shows the aptitude and willingness to make the most of their education.