Private schools row reignited by Labour candidate

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Scottish Labour leadership candidate Kezia Dugdale says tax breaks afforded to private schools registered as charities are unfair

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22nd June 2015 by Paul Cardwell 1 Comment

Private schools should be stripped of their charitable status, one of the candidates in the Scottish Labour leadership race has claimed.

Kezia Dugdale used the launch of her campaign to describe private schools being afforded the tax breaks that come with charitable status as “unfair” against state schools.

She said she would focus the party’s work to cut the attainment gap between rich and poor and that would mean stripping private schools of their status.

“I want to focus more resources in more disadvantaged areas to close that gap because if we do that everybody benefits from that – it’s good for the whole of Scotland,” she said.

“The reality of charitable status means it’s a tax cut for private schools while state school struggle for resources. I think that is unfair so I would end that charitable status.”

Not surprisingly Dugdale’s view isn’t supported by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

“I believe such a policy to be mistaken,” Davidson said.

“It seems wrongheaded to revisit the issue and threaten to unpick measures which have been put in place to ensure that the independent sector is more accessible to pupils from all backgrounds.”

The charity status of private schools has been a contentious issue in Scotland in recent months.

The Scottish Parliament public petitions committee has discussed a petition from campaigner Ashley Husband Powton, which argues that private schools should not be charities.

Just last month the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations also said it thought the charity test wasn’t fit for purpose as it allowed “schools of this type to have charitable status,”.

In response, speaking in TFN, John Edward director of Scottish Council of Independent Schools said any attempt to change the test to banish private schools “could only narrow access again, and be to the detriment of assisted pupils attending those schools by choice”.

23rd June 2015 by Douglas J A Roxburgh. MBE

Simple solution, give all schools, colleges and universities of further and higher education charitable status thus levelling the playing field in a way that would suit all. To further inform the prospective Labour leadership candidate in this perhaps if she has not already done so, spending time with and in Independent School settings may enable her to see the values and benefits attributed to Educational institutions in this category. It would be particularly unfortunate if the many residential schools and those providing specialised educational provision lost out simply because of ideology.