Private school reprieved over free places
A private school that faced losing its charitable status has won a reprieve after tripling the number of free places it offers to poor children, it emerged today.
St Anselm's, a fee-paying prep school in Derbyshire, failed the new public benefit test last year after the Charity Commission ruled it was not providing enough subsidised places.
The commission is due to announce that the 230-pupil school in Bakewell, has met the test by increasing the number of free places it offers from one to three, with the bursaries worth 100 per cent of the fees.
The move is likely to have implications for other fee-paying schools, who could be forced to offer more free places in order to retain their charitable status.
The Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents private schools, has previously raised concerns that the commission was taking a "narrow approach" to the rules, and it today confirmed that it is seeking a judicial review of the guidelines.
Under the rules, to keep their charitable status and the tax breaks that come with it, private schools must prove they benefit children who cannot afford their fees.
S. Anselm's was one of five schools which took part in the commission's first assessments on the test last year.
The school was one of two, along with Highfield Priory in Lancashire, that failed because of a lack of subsidised places.
Both were praised for working with the wider community, sharing facilities with state schools, and offering joint classes with state schools.
S. Anselm's headmaster Simon Northcott said he was "delighted" that the commission had recognised the changes the school had made since last year's assessment.
"We believe that they are in proportion to what we can meaningfully provide and sustain in the future," he said.
"Given many of the particular issues that affect S. Anselm's - including its rural location, child protection as a result of the age of young boarders, and it has no endowments - we feel that in the current economic climate it would make life difficult should we be required to do substantially more."
The three bursaries will cost S. Anselm's £33,000 to fund, around 1.1% of its gross fee income.
ISC chief executive David Lyscom said: "We are delighted that the Charity Commission has reacted positively to S. Anselm's plan for the future.
"But this decision does little to lift the uncertainty for charitable schools about what they need to do to meet the commission's public benefit test. Nor does it resolve our concern all along that the commission's interpretation of public benefit is too narrow and deeply flawed.
"This is not just about individual schools. The entire sector is at the whim of the commission's prevailing and subjective view as to what is "sufficient" for a school to get the all-clear."
The commission is "deliberately overlooking the indirect benefits the private sector offers", Mr Lyscom said.
He added: "Having sought and failed to bridge the gap between the commission's approach and the law by agreement, ISC therefore had no alternative but to challenge the commission in the courts.
"Given the widespread controversy caused by the commission's approach, it is important that it should be tested at law."
Syria conflict: President Assad finally turns on Isis as government steps up campaign against militant strongholds
Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness
Celebrity Big Brother 2014: Audley Harrison meets Kellie Maloney: 'Was Kellie really the best you could come up with?'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad with Jager and potatoes for vodka as campsite opens tomorrow
£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...
£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Exciting Opportunity, Rand...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Behaviour Support Worker Th...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are looki...