With Scottish education in dire straits and little evidence that the Education Secretary has any notion of how to restore its earned former reputation, Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson, has asked for clarification of the national Labour Party’s stance on independent schools.
Yesterday, Labour leadership candidate, Kezia Dugdale, said she wanted to see an end to independent schools having charitable status.
Ruth Davidson has consequently written to Scottish Labour MP, Ian Murray, asking him to clarify the party’s position on independent schools. The Edinburgh South Labur MP serves a city with thousands of independent school places. Ms Davidson stresses that it is important to know what he thinks about this issue.
Ms Davidson has written:
‘I’m writing regarding the charitable status of independent schools. Yesterday, when launching her campaign to become leader of Scottish Labour, Kezia Dugdale, signalled her intention to end this practice.
‘I believe such a policy to be mistaken. As you are aware, this issue has been considered both by the Scottish Parliament and, at regular intervals, by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) – who are responsible for assessing whether independent schools merit charitable status.
‘At the last count, OSCR concluded that the vast majority do exactly that and so it seems wrongheaded to re-visit the issue and threaten to unpick the measures which have been put in place to ensure that the independent sector is more accessible to pupils from all backgrounds.
‘As a Glasgow region MSP, I have a number of independent schools in my area and am concerned that ending charitable status would limit choice, cost jobs and penalise some of Scotland’s best performing schools.
‘These same considerations apply to Edinburgh South.
I know you back Ms Dugdale’s candidacy as leader and so I ask whether you share her view that charitable status should be scrapped.
‘Otherwise I ask you to confirm whether – like the Scottish Conservatives – you believe there is a space for independent schools in Scotland and this wrong-headed and ideological attack on their charitable status puts that space in peril.’