DCH 87 Andrew Dodgshon
3 Chaucer Road Bedford MK4O 2AJ
Telephone: 01234 355773
Fax: 01234 218903
Clerk, Joint Committee on the Draft
16th June 2004
Dear Francine Graham,
The Joint Committee has a tremendous
job of work to do on the whole issue of what constitutes a charity
and what does not. I'd be grateful if you could put before members
my strong view that in education, at least, there should be a
fundamental rethink and that those fee-paying schools in the private
sector should be stripped of charitable status.
I write as someone who was educated
at one such school and has served as a governor on a further two.
It seems to me that these schools, by dint of entry selection
by academic means and direct marketing overseas, are plying for
trade. Their fee levels and asset values warrant them being stand
alone businesses. Lest we should think of them otherwise, please
bear in mind I have served as a governor when most of the time
was spent on issues relating to budgets and property. Their business
is educating the children of the elite.
It is true that the origin of many
fee-paying schools was charitable. This is certainly the case
in respect of the three schools I have been associated with. But
that charity related to the 16th
century and is hardly a model
In so far as links with the local community
are concerned it is difficult to be other than cynical. All schools,
irrespective of their foundation or status, are involved in some
way, shape and form with their local communities. Yet the fee-paying
schools are in a rush to trumpet this involvement as some justification
of charitable status. It is nothing of the sort. In my immediate
area, for example, two of the local fee-paying schools have the
lion's share of available green open space for their playing fields.
These spaces are not open to the public for out of school term
activities, even if there were a nominal charge. Their sports
facilities are the envy of the state sector but the doors are
firmly closed to the local community.
I did my best whilst a governor and
trustee of the local charity to do something about this lack of
community involvement. There was no positive response.
These schools have shown a remarkable
tenacity and survival instinct over five hundred and more years
removal of government funded assisted places was the last blip
on their otherwise smooth path of profit. Stripping them of their
charitable status will be but another blip. I urge the committee
to act with a radical boldness of spirit in this matter.
Educated at Leeds Grammar School 1967-1977;
Governor at Bedford Modern School 1993-1997;
Governor at Bedford School 1997 -
1999; Trustee of the Bedford
Charity (Harpur Trust) 1993-1999