Loretto School at Musselburgh risks losing its charitable status for failing to provide enough help with fees.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) said Loretto, one of Scotland’s most prestigious private schools, had “insufficient measures” in place to widen access for pupils from poorer backgrounds.
Compass School in Haddington passed the regulator’s test.
Loretto has been given 18 months to comply with OSCR’s Direction.
Martin Tyson, OSCR’s Head of Registration, said that the process was aimed at maintaining public confidence in charitable status, by ensuring that Scottish charities met the required standard.
‘As regulator, we must ensure that charities provide public benefit as set out in the legislation,’ he said. ‘We have now established this process as part of our ongoing work. Of the decisions announced today, eight schools have satisfied us that they provide a sufficient level of public benefit. Our experience to date is that, where we have issued Directions to widen access, the schools have taken the necessary steps to comply and thereby retain charitable status.’
In January 2012, the charity regulator published Protecting Charitable Status, a summary of its work and decisions, including information on the fee-charging schools assessed to date. This provides background and guidance to charities and the wider public, and sets out those elements that the Regulator considers. It has also published reports on each of the decisions announced today, at www.oscr.org.uk.
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Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, welcomed the findings of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s review of fee-charging schools.
She said: “Equality of access to education is incredibly important if we want all children to have the opportunity to succeed in life. OSCR’s review is welcome and I hope Loretto takes seriously the concerns raised.
“Independent schools, like all organisations with charitable status, have a duty to benefit the communities in which they’re located. They can do so by raising awareness of what support is available for parents who want to send their children there and by optimising support for non-traditional entrants.”
Jonathan Hewat, Loretto’s director of external affairs, said: “Although OSCR acknowledges the valuable public benefit Loretto School already provides, they have identified improvements that they wish to see implemented.
“We are naturally disappointed by this outcome but strongly believe that, by working with OSCR, we can satisfy the requirements of their charities test within the prescribed timescale.
“We are looking carefully into OSCR’s report with a view to meeting the charity test as soon as possible.
“We shall continue to perform our main charitable function, which is to provide an excellent education for boys and girls. We are committed to providing means-tested bursaries whenever we can, and we shall continue to increase this support to families who need it most.”