Press release: Charity Commission updates guidance for fee-charging educational charities

The Charity Commission has updated its guidance on ways that trustees of fee-charging educational charities, including charitable independent schools, can ensure they run their charities for the public benefit.

The guidance has always made it clear that sharing facilities with local state schools is one way in which trustees of charitable independent schools can fulfil their public benefit duty by making provision for the poor to benefit. The updated guidance now encourages trustees of charitable schools, as a matter of good practice, to comment on their individual approaches to public benefit in sports, drama, music and other arts in their trustee annual report.

The commission has updated its example trustee annual report for a charitable school to reflect the recommendation in the updated guidance.

The move follows concerns raised in Parliament during debates on the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill that too few sports and arts facilities owned by charitable independent schools are accessible to students in state education.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission, said:

This small change to our guidance sends a clear signal to independent school charities: if you have good facilities for sports or the arts, sharing them with local state schools is an excellent way for you to make sure you run your charity for the public benefit. We know that many charitable fee-charging schools already open up their facilities to local state schools, and we would encourage trustees of all such charities to consider carefully, and report on, how students in state education benefit from using their school’s facilities.

The Independent Schools Council supports this development and has committed to disseminating the revised guidance among its members.


PR 63/15

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:

    • charities know what they have to do
    • the public know what charities do
    • charities are held to account
  2. The Independent Schools Council (ISC) brings together seven associations of independent schools: the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference; the Girls’ Schools Association; the Independent Association of Prep Schools; the Independent Schools Association; the Society of Heads; the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools; and the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association. Through these associations ISC represent nearly 1,300 independent schools (four-fifths of which have charitable status) and 500,000 pupils in the UK providing authoritative research, legal and regulatory guidance and sector-wide communications.

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