23rd August 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Private schools should pay business rates, says Scottish government review
A government review is calling for private schools to cease to benefit from the “reduced or zero-rates bills” they receive as charities, estimating the move could save £5 million.
According to today's Barclay Report on Business Rates, it is “unfair” that independent schools benefit from business rates relief due to their charitable status, unlike state schools.
The report calls for this “inequality” to be ended “by removing eligibility for charity relief from all independent schools”. The schools would, however, continue to be classed as charities and other benefits would “continue to flow to them from that status”, it says.
The review was set up by the Scottish government last year to make recommendations to improve the current rates system, and was led by former RBS boss Ken Barclay.
However, the Scottish Council of Independent Schools has hit out at the recommendation, saying that it would put Scottish private education at a competitive disadvantage in the UK and globally, and would impact on the financial support that private schools are able to offer to families unable to afford their fees.
John Edward, director of the SCIS, said: “Most of all, for a rates review, they would most likely cost the Scottish taxpayer and government more than they seek to raise.”
See also: Scottish Schools
'We don’t want chaos and confusion': Meet the woman behind the new GCSE grades
Cath Jadhav is the Associate Director of Standards and Comparability at Ofqual - the Government department that regulates qualifications in England. Effectively, it is her job to ensure the entire GCSE programme is successful. And this year, she has overseen its biggest upheaval in decades.
Instead of the A* to G grades by which GCSE pupils have been assessed since the mid-Nineties, candidates who took English language, literature and maths exams in 2017 will be marked under a numerical system that ranges from 9-1. Another 10 or so subjects will follow suit next year, before the whole curriculum is on board by 2019.
Ofqual is at pains to emphasise against direct comparisons but, roughly speaking, an old A is a new 7, an old C is a 4, and an old G (not that you’d ever wish to acquaint yourself with a G) is a 1. The idea, they say, is that the same proportion of students will get a 4 and above as currently achieve a C grade or higher, and broadly the same proportion of students will get a 7 as are currently graded A. It means there will be a greater spread, but fewer top grades. So a set of ‘straight 9s’ will be harder to achieve than an old set of straight As.
See also: New GCSEs 'hardest since O-levels'
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