Education Review Group

The very latest...


'Most private schools are not charities' was the conclusion of the Education Review Group ('ERG') following the decision of the High Court today. The High Court reached its decision after lengthy deliberation and its conclusions means that many schools will need to look again at their approach in light of today's judgement.

Read the full press release here ...

...and the High Court/Tribunal documents here


The Education Review Group (ERG) was given permission in January 2011 to intervene in the Judicial Review bought by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) against the Charity Commission. On 7th March 2011, the ERG submitted its evidence to the Court, which you can read here.

For the Statement of Grounds of the ISC and the Defence of the Charity Commission please follow the link to the Charity Tribunal website here.

What does "public benefit" mean in the education sector?

In July 2007 the Charity Commission conducted a public consultation exercise on the guidance it should offer on what constitutes "Public Benefit", and this has huge implications for all charities and schools with charitable status. The Education Review Group was set up to provide independent evidence to the Charity Commission on the meaning of public benefit in the education sector.

In March 2008 the Charity Commission launched a Consultation on Draft Supplementary guidance on Public Benefit and Fee Charging. This Consultation applies to all charities that charge fees including educational, health, heritage, arts and culture charities. The Education Review Group has, however, confined its submission to the public benefit of educational charities - and in particular, private schools.

Latest developments

July 2009: The Charity Commission has recently published its final guidance on the interpretation of public benefit and gives five examples of how they apply this in practice to independent schools, and other charities. These reports have generated immediate controversy as two of the schools have failed at least part of the public benefit test and the Charity Commission has been criticised over how it applies its own rules.

We have recently published a briefing paper on Assessing the impact of the 2006 Charities Act on schools

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Previous postings

You can download our submission to the Charity Commission in response to its consultation exercise lodged on 11th July 2008 from here.

The letter to The Guardian on 11th July 2008 outlining our position can be seen here.

For further development of our work please watch this website.

Background to the Charity Commission review of "Public Benefit"

The Charities 2006 Act removes the presumption of public benefit which case law had applied to charities established for the relief of poverty, the advancement of religion and the advancement of education. From 2008 charities with those purposes must be able to demonstrate that they provide public benefit.

There is no definition of public benefit in the 2006 Act. However, it does require the Charity Commission to issue guidance on the public benefit requirement and the trustees of charities to have regard to that guidance.

The Charity Commission web site has links to all the relevant documents here.