The Charity Commission has agreed to voluntarily look into how private schools with charitable status use their facilities. This comes after an extensive debate in the House of Lords over a proposed amendment to the Charities (Protect and Social Investment) Bill, tabled by Lord Wallace and Lord Moynihan.
The amendment had proposed that:
- Independent schools which are charities must engage actively with local communities and state schools with a view to sharing resources and facilities; and
- The Charity Commission must publish guidance setting out the minimum that charitable independent schools must to do to comply with duty in subsection.
The Commission had been concerned about the use of legislation, but did recognise the spirit and principles behind the proposed amendment. The amendment was ultimately withdrawn by its proposers after it was decided that enough had been achieved through a voluntary approach. In response to the debate, the Commission has written to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) to outline a new approach.
The new approach will see a revived effort to encourage the opening of school facilities on a voluntary basis; this will include an online facility to help the identification of opportunities, and a clear encouragement for greater partnership working between independent and state schools on sporting facilities.
The impact of the new initiatives will be assessed in detail by a research project. This research will look into the annual reports of charitable schools and data the ISC collects through its annual census of independent schools to assess these partnerships including via the online facilities.
Full details of this are here.