Private schools boost economy

The Herald, 17/11/14, John Edward, Director, Scottish Council of Independent Schools responds to a letter about independent schools benefiting from financial assistance from the taxpayer.

IAN Thomson (Letters, November 14) makes the now-common mistake of assuming that independent schools somehow benefit from financial assistance from the taxpayer.

Each of these schools survives solely on parental fee income, 90 per cent of those being hard-working Scottish parents.

Whether state-funded schools should similarly receive charitable status is for others to debate. At present, they are the exception to the rule in relation to educational establishments. As well as independent schools, colleges, universities, professional colleges (surgeons, physicians and so on) all receive charitable status - and all levy fees and/or other charges.

State-funded schools are funded via central and local taxation by the general population, and as such their non-domestic rates effectively move in a circle through central and local budgets.

Of course, no group has had its charitable status tested more than independent schools, through an onerous eight-year process with the Holyrood-established independent charity regulator. One day, people might even look at the evidence the regulator has published.

It is worth noting that a recent independent report by BiGGAR Economics revealed that members of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) deliver a positive economic impact to the Scottish economy of £445.8 million gross value added (GVA) per year and around 11,200 jobs in operational benefits alone.

If we are, sadly, to reduce education of young people to a numbers game, we need to look at both sides of the balance sheet and accept the evidence found there.

John Edward,

Director, Scottish Council of Independent Schools