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Adding value to the community

Judith Sischy's assertion in her letter last week that no private school will fail the test of public benefit is extremely optimistic and gives the incorrect impression that they will be waved through because they don't provide a "disbenefit".

It is important that we are all clear that no organisation, whatever its field of work or purpose, will automatically qualify and that the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator will consider each application for charitable status on its own merits.

While some private schools do indeed try to demonstrate public benefit by providing the general public with occasional access to sports facilities and so forth, they will need to do much more in order to clearly demonstrate the value that they are adding to communities beyond their school gates. Frankly, there is no guarantee that all private schools will be able to do this.

Scotland's voluntary organisations have campaigned for 10 years for the creation of a coherent legal framework governing our sector's work. There can be no "business as usual" approach to the conferment of charitable status. From now on, all who apply for status as a charity will have to work hard to demonstrate they deserve that title.

Lucy Mcternan. Director of corporate affairs. Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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