Gordonstoun principal joins dissatisfaction over rates review

THE PRINCIPAL AT Gordonstoun School has added her voice to those showing serious concerns over the content of the report into non-domestic rates.

Details of Ken Barclay’s long-awaited review of the system has caused dismay for many businesses in Moray – and with his recommendations for fee-paying schools, the same can be said of education.

The Barclay Review rejected calls for a major overhaul of a system that has led to catering industry businesses such as Hotels, Bars and Restaurants facing crippling increases that could see many going out of business.

However, among the recommendations is one that is of particular concern to private education establishments as it seeks to bring them into the system. That, according to Gordonstoun Principal Lisa Kerr, would cost the school almost £180,000 a year.

Now she is warning that if acted upon it would likely lead to schools having to cut or even end their ‘assisted places’ schemes as they would no longer have sufficient funds to cover their costs.

Miss Kerr said: “The proposed change can only have a negative effect on Scotland’s economy and the education of its young people. It will disadvantage Scottish independent schools compared to those in England – and will impact our ability to offer assisted places, the overwhelming majority of which are offered to Scottish students.

“Gordonstoun, as well as being renowned as the world leader in character education, is a significant contributor to the local economy and is a major employer in Moray.”

It is a view that is shared by the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), who go further in saying that should the Scottish Government act on the recommendation in the review then they would consider legal action to halt it.

SCIS Director John Edwards said: “We will certainly be looking at the justification for singling out the schools. In addition, the assumption in the report that state schools pay full non-domestic rates is simply inaccurate.

“Schools do not pay a penny and rates are purely a paper exercise that are covered by general taxation. If their rates bill change, it would make no difference – if ours change, it will profoundly affect budgets of non-for-profit bodies.”