Top private schools’ ‘paltry’ charity work revealed
When contacted, King’s School confirmed that these partnerships are “live” but gave no details on their frequency or impact. The school also offers volunteer opportunities and raises money for charity. The school’s accounts list 138 means-tested scholarships – but it doesn’t disclose how many of these are full rather than partial.
Godolphin and Latymer School, a private London girls’ school that charges up to £8,395 per semester in tuition, listed an Instagram account a student created about breast cancer in 2020 as an example of her charitable work. The school also raises funds and works with local government schools. According to information published on Schools Together, the school provides “around 50” fully funded scholarships.
Westminster School, which can charge up to £15,447 per term, offered local primary school pupils the use of its observatory on a Friday evening as part of their community effort. When contacted, the school did not explain how many local elementary school students had used the observatory as part of the partnership.
Westminster also raises money for charities. It provided 37 fully funded scholarships from 757 students in 2021.
A spokesman for the school said: “Like independent schools across the country, Westminster has been committed to community service for many years, with much collaboration with other schools, community service, knowledge sharing, civic engagement and use of facilities, as well as large ongoing projects such as the Westminster Platform and Westminster Phab. This work takes place throughout the year and we are committed to ensuring that it continues and expands for many more years to come.”
The charitable activities of private schools are regulated by the Charity Commission, while Ofsted and the Department of Education have additional regulatory powers when it comes to the education they provide. But the Charity Commission would not say if it had ever investigated an independent school for failing to provide public services.
In practice, it rarely sanctions a non-profit making organization as a sanction. It is understood that only cases of “persistent non-reporting” of an independent school’s charity work could warrant an investigation by the Charity Commission.
Labor has pledged to strip private schools of their “inexcusable” non-profit status, with shadow education secretary Bridget Philipson claiming that “protecting private schools is not about the aspirations of all our children, but about ensuring exclusive opportunities remain in the hands of a few.” privileged.”
openDemocracy recently revealed private schools have received £157million in Covid grants during the pandemic, despite government schools being denied those grants.
A spokesman for the private school abolitionist group Integrate Private Schools told openDemocracy the public should question the motivation behind these public relations acts.
“It’s true that elite private schools sometimes make their resources available, but this is just one example of the surplus these schools need to start with,” they told openDemocracy. “If you look at the examples of bunker tours and meager donations, these are just crumbs from the table for which the rest of us should be grateful.
“We would question the motivation behind these programs and suggest that they lie less in benevolent charity and more in the hope of good publicity to maintain their public image in defense of millions in government funds.”
openDemocracy has reached out to all private schools in this story for comments.