Public Benefit

Meeting the charity test

In 2015-16, Scotland's independent schools will give over £47 million financial assistance to widen access

All independent schools offer financial assistance, most commonly in the form of means tested awards, granted on the basis of financial need. The level of financial support can vary considerably, from a free place (where 100% of the fees are met by the school) to awards worth around 20% of the fees.

See the SCIS paper on Scotland's independent schools in 2014 and onwards.

A summary of what's happened.

For further information, please see the Press Releases page of this website and OSCR's reports via the links, below.

September 2015: OSCR confirms that Cedars School of Excellence, Greenock meets the charity test.

June 2015: OSCR announces that Fernhill School, Glasgow has passed the charity test and that schools review now complete.

December 2014: OSCR produces a final briefing on the completion of the charity test.

June 2014: OSCR announces that Loretto School and St Columba's School have passed the charity test.  Only 2 SCIS schools remain under examination.

May 2014: OSCR announces that Wellington School, Ayr, has passed the charity test.

January 2014: OSCR announces that all 7 schools in the final batch of testing have passed the charity test. With the exception of those schools currently under directions, the charity test process is completed.

November 2013: OSCR announces the lifting of directions on 2 schools, and that another school has also passed the charity test.

October 2013: OSCR announces 6 further schools have passed the charity test, with 1 more issued with a direction.

April 2013: OSCR announces that a further 5 independent schools have passed the charity test, with 1 more issued with a direction.

January 2013 : OSCR confirms that 10 more schools have passed the charity test and issues directions to a further 3. An additional 8 schools are confirmed as being under review.

September 2012 : OSCR confirms that it is seeking to complete its reviews of schools as part of the charity test - see link below.

February 2012 : OSCR publishes summary report from detailed reviews of charitable status. The document (see below) sets out key issues and provides a checklist for charity trustees.

December 2011 : OSCR confirmed that Cargilfield School had also met the charity test.

November 2011 : OSCR announced that those four schools that submitted plans had met the charity test and will remain on the Scottish Charity Register.

February 2010 : OSCR published a short report giving information about the progress that charities which were issued with Directions had made. Additionally, Cargilfield School was reviewed under Rolling Review Phase 1b.

November 2009 : OSCR approved the plans submitted by Hutchesons' Grammar School, Lomond School, Merchiston Castle School and St Leonards School on how they will meet the Charity Test. The schools were advised by OSCR in October 2008 to draw up plans by October 2009 to indicate how they will meet the public benefit requirements of the Charity Test. They have two years to implement their plans.

October 2007 : Ten other independent schools were selected by OSCR to be reviewed (Rolling Review Phase 1a) and the results were announced in October 2008. Six passed the test with a clean bill of health while four were given more time to demonstrate the public benefit they provide.

July 2007 : The Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) announced that the first independent school to be reviewed under revised Scottish charities legislation, High School of Dundee, met the charities test.

The SCIS schools below have been reviewed, met the charity test and reaffirmed their public benefit:

1 Donaldson's, Linlithgow
2 George Heriot's School, Edinburgh
3 Glasgow Steiner School
4 Gordonstoun School, Moray
5 High School of Dundee
6 Regius School, Edinburgh
7 St Mary's Music School, Edinburgh
8 St Aloysius' College, Glasgow
9 Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh
10 Lomond School, Helensburgh
11 St Leonard's School, St Andrews
12 Hutchesons' Grammar School, Glasgow
13 Cargilfield School, Edinburgh
14 Ardvreck School, Crieff
15 Beaconhurst School, Bridge of Allan
16 Belhaven Hill, Dunbar
17 Clifton Hall School, Edinburgh
18 Craigclowan School, Perth
19 Edinburgh Steiner School
20 The High School of Glasgow
21 Kilgraston School, Bridge of Earn
22 Dollar Academy
23 Strathallan School, Forgandenny
24 St. Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen
25 Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen
26 Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow
27 Belmont House, Newton Mearns
28 Glenalmond College, Perth
29 Moray Steiner School, Forres
Compass School, East Lothian 
31 Lathallan School, Montrose
32 Hamilton College, Hamilton
33 Albyn School, Aberdeen
34 Glasgow Academy, Glasgow
35 Fettes College, Edinburgh
36 St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh
37 The International School of Aberdeen
38 Aberdeen Waldorf School
39 Craigholme School, Glasgow
40 George Watson's College, Edinburgh
41 Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools, Edinburgh
42 St Mary's School, Melrose
43 Morrison's Academy, Crieff
44 The Edinburgh Academy
45 Wellington School, Ayr
46 Loretto School, Musselburgh
47 St Columba's School, Kilmacolm
48 Cedars School of Excellence, Greenock
49 Fernhill School, Glasgow

Demonstrating Public Benefit

Many independent schools are built on charitable foundations and are keenly aware of their charitable roots. They have a deep and active commitment to public benefit and welcome pupils from a broad social spectrum. Independent schools make a significant contribution to the education, the economy and social fabric of Scotland.

John Edward, Director of SCIS, "In terms of the charities legislation, the schools have to demonstrate that they exist for a charitable purpose, namely the advancement of education, and that they provide public benefit. OSCR has to determine whether the fees charged constitute an unduly restrictive condition - the schools aim to keep their fees as low as possible, whilst maintaining standards, and are as generous as their funds will allow in extending financial assistance to those who cannot afford the full fee. The schools appreciate their responsibilities as charities and are well prepared to meet the charity test."