Reform Scotland

The future of Scotland’s independent schools

Reform Scotland was delighted to host a discussion about the future of Scotland’s independent schools.

Labour and the SNP would like to introduce a 20% VAT charge on fees, while Labour is also looking at scrapping business rates relief for independent schools in England (this has already been done in Scotland).

The vast majority of pupils in Scotland attend comprehensive schools, so does it make sense for the independent sector to be taxed more in order to fund higher spending on state education? The Scottish Council of Independent Schools warns that this would mean a sharp rise in fees, could force an influx of privately-educated children to the state sector, and could lead some schools to close down altogether.

Alternatively, should politicians consider other options, such as demanding private institutions work more closely with and provide more services to their state counterparts, in return for the protection of current arrangements? And if so, how is this best done?

These issues and more were discussed by our panel:

Lorraine Davidson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools
Melvyn Roffe, Principal of George Watson’s College
Catriona Campbell, Head of Education at East Park School
Lindsay Paterson, Professor Emeritus of Education Policy at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the Commission on School Reform

This event was chaired by Chris Deerin, Director of Reform Scotland

This event was held via Zoom on Friday 24 November.