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PM to consult on schools' charitable status

Theresa May announces plans to amend Charity Commission guidance for independent schools

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 11, 2016 | People, policy, politics

In her speech on creating a more meritocratic Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined plans to consult on introducing tougher tests for maintaining charitable status.

Independent schools, May said, would face a “tougher test on the amount of public benefit required to maintain charitable status”, looking at how they support local state schools. For those with the ‘capacity and capability’, May said: “…We will ask them to go further and actually sponsor or set up a new government-funded school in the state sector and take responsibility for running it and ensuring its success.”

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) said schools will be happy to continue playing their part.

“We are delighted to hear the Prime Minister recognise the knowledge, expertise and resources that independent schools have to offer and that we will continue to be encouraged to share these even further,” the statement said.

“At present the vast majority of independent schools engage in partnership work with other schools around them and we estimate this involves 10,000 state schools and 160,000 state school pupils.

“Partnership work is extremely diverse. Our schools organise sporting projects, host joint events, share playing fields, provide coaching time, put on plays and concerts, arrange exciting academic competitions and give advice to state school students who want to go to university. Those with the resources to do so have helped create new state schools and remain actively involved.” 

The ISC assured that their work isn’t ‘box ticking’ and is part of the ‘very essence’ of what its schools do.

“The reality of charitable status is complex, but we can prove our schools put into society far more than they take out by saving the tax payer, boosting local economies and supporting choice and innovation,” the statement said.

“Our schools are grateful for the financial benefits of charitable status, but this is not what motivates them to work hard in their communities. The UK benefits as a result.

“Like all charities, schools with charitable status are held to account by the Charities Commission and they must show how they fulfil their charitable obligations through public benefit in the context of their own particular circumstances.

“The Prime Minister said she was 'unapologetic' in her belief in social mobility. We share the same sentiment. And in the drive towards greater and meaningful social mobility in the UK, we believe that independent schools are part of the solution, not the problem.”

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