Scottish schools’ delight at passing charity test


Two of the most expensive schools in the Scottish capital have been allowed to keep their charity status after the national regulator deemed they had done enough to widen access.

St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College have both taken “sufficient measures” to admit more pupils from less wealthy families, according to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

Fettes, which charges up to £20,235 a year for secondary pupils and £27,150 a year for boarders, now awards bursaries to 11 per cent of its pupils, the OSCR found. St George’s charges up to £10,932 for secondary pupils and grants bursaries to 14 per cent of pupils.

Anne Everest, headteacher at St George’s, is “delighted” with the decision, which exempts the school from corporation tax and brings an 80 per cent cut in rates, as well as eligibility for Gift Aid. 

She said: “We have worked closely with the OSCR over the last few months so that they now have a full and detailed picture of the public benefit we provide. We have also introduced a new constitution for the school and, crucially, increased the number of means-tested bursaries we offer in a measured and sustainable way.”

Michael Spens, head of Fettes, said: “Fettes College is gratified that the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has concluded that the requirements of the direction issued in January of this year have been complied with and that Fettes College has now passed the charity test.”

Martin Tyson, the OSCR’s head of registration, said it was vital that public confidence in charitable status was kept.

“As regulator, we must ensure that charities provide public benefit as set out in the legislation. Our experience is that, where we have issued directions to widen access, schools have taken the necessary steps to comply. Fettes College and St George’s have both addressed the issues we identified as a priority and have taken early action to widen access to an extent consistent with earlier cases that have met the charity test.”

Another of Edinburgh’s long established independent schools, Loretto, has until early 2015 to show the OSCR it is doing enough on this front after the regulator ruled in October that most of its bursaries were “low value”.


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