by MONITOR
LAST month's decision by Britain's Charity Commission, to withdraw charity status for tax purposes from private schools that do not appear to offer sufficient “public benefit” in exchange for such tax concessions, is not being taken lying down by the named schools or by the Independent Schools Council (ISC). Yesterday the chief executive of the ISC, David Lyscom, said there was potential for a legal challenge against the Charity Commission for its interpretation of the 2006 Charity Act. He said that, whether or not private schools provided a public benefit by offering bursaries for pupils from poor families, they offered a public service by educating children privately who would otherwise be in state schools and paid for by the taxpayer. He also suggested that private schools are educating “the future movers and shakers who will give the UK economic success in the future”.

Whether it is wise for private schools to deploy this argument must be open to question. The recent report on the apparently set-in-concrete lack of social mobility in Britain showed that a high proportion of the most influential professional jobs are still occupied by people who have been to private schools and a “good” university. It is surely worth asking whether this long-followed system has really produced a nation of “movers and shakers” in the past or is likely to do so in the future.

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