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Charity regulator publishes schools report

08 Dec 2014

The Scottish Charity Regulator has today [8 December 2014] published its summary report on its review of the charitable status of 52 fee-charging schools.

The report can be viewed here.

Today’s publication follows the conclusion of the Regulator’s two-year assessment of individual schools. The review considered whether they met the charity test set out in the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005. Of the 52 schools assessed in total, 40 met the charity test.  OSCR took enforcement action in 10 cases, directing schools to widen access to the public benefit they provide.  Two reviews have been suspended due to their particular circumstances.

The report sets out the Regulator’s perspective from the conclusion of its group review, the principles that guided its decision making, what action it took where it found non-compliance, and how it will monitor such charities in future while maintaining their compliance with charity law.

OSCR’s Head of Registration, Martin Tyson, said that the review demonstrated the role of the Regulator in maintaining public confidence, by taking action to make sure that Scottish charities comply with the requirements of charity law.

‘From the commencement of the charity legislation in 2006, we identified fee-charging schools as a priority group that continues to have a high degree of interest from the public.   Where we have found problems we have taken action to ensure that charities are all now doing what the charity test requires,’ he said.  ‘More recently, we embarked on a full-scale review of this group and today’s report sets out our findings and key issues.  Our work is aimed ultimately at reinforcing public confidence and our report illustrates both the issues we consider and the enforcement action we take where required.’

The charity test  sets the standard that all of Scotland’s 23,700 charities must meet in providing public benefit.  Where there are conditions on the public gaining access to the benefit, such as fees or charges, charities must take steps to ensure that these are not ‘unduly restrictive’.

OSCR’s report, along with summary reports for all of the schools, is published today at


Issued by The Scottish Charity Regulator, Quadrant House, 9 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY.  For further information, contact Mark Simpson on 01382 220446 or 07920 274498 or email


  1. The Scottish Charity Regulator is the independent registrar and regulator and of Scotland’s 23,700 charities and publishes the Scottish Charity Register at
  2. The Regulator’s vision is for charities in which the public has confidence and which provide public benefit.
  3. Sections 7 and 8 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 set out the charity test that must be met in Scotland.  In particular (and in contrast to the position in England and Wales) the 2005 Act sets out specific factors which the Regulator must look at in assessing whether organisations meet the test.  In summary, a charity must have exclusively charitable purposes and provide public benefit; and, in doing so, where conditions exist on gaining access to the benefit (such as fees), these must not be unduly restrictive.  In addition, the Regulator must have regard to issues such as private benefit and any disbenefit to the public.
  4. OSCR commenced its pilot reviews in 2007 and in September 2012 announced a programme of reviews for the remaining 40 fee-charging schools entered in the Register.  Going forward, OSCR will continue to monitor and maintain the level of compliance achieved by this group of charities, encouraging them to build on good practice by reporting to the public on the benefit they provide.
  5. Today’s report features no new decisions, but is a summary of the Regulator’s findings and experience from its individual assessments of charities in this category since 2007.  The Regulator has taken enforcement action where required to ensure compliance with the charity test in 100 per cent of cases.
  6. In January 2012, OSCR published Protecting Charitable Status, a summary of its work and decisions, including information on the fee-charging schools assessed to date.  This provides background and guidance to charities and the wider public, and sets out those elements that the Regulator considers. 
  7. The reviews of two schools, SC006960 Struthers Memorial Church and SC011011 Fernhill School Ltd, have been suspended from the group review by OSCR as their particular characteristics require more detailed consideration.