Independence scrutinised

12th October 2007 at 01:00
The charitable status of the General Teaching Council of Scotland is under threat along with that of 23,500 other charities

The general Teaching council for Scotland is in danger of losing its charitable status which will cost it pound;75,000 a year.

The teachers' registration body has fallen foul of new standards introduced by the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator, which require any organisation with charitable status to be independent of ministers.

But the GTCS is one of a number of bodies whose constitutions permit ministers to "direct or control" their activities. The failure to meet the new standards has "surprised and disappointed" the council, which is contesting the decision, a spokesman said.

"The GTCS is a body that clearly and effectively acts in the public interest in its role as the regulator of the teaching profession," he added.

Its role was to ensure that teachers were qualified and fit to teach the nation's children and young people. The GTCS was funded independently by member subscription and was not a non-departmental public body in the traditional model.

"Charitable status reflects this arm's length separation from the Scottish Government and highlights our independence as a regulatory body.

"Losing charitable status would cost the GTCS around pound;75,000 a year, which amounts to nearly pound;1 for every teacher on our register. Why should teachers pay for this?" he added.

The council proposes to ask OSCR for a review. If unsuccessful, it is likely to turn to the Scottish Charities Appeal Panel.

A spokesman for OSCR said: "We have worked with the GTCS over the last 18 months to try and resolve this issue, includ- ing meeting directly with charity representatives.

"We have also extended our original deadline to allow the charity additional time to comply with our direction. To date, the charity has not made the changes necessary and has indicated there is no intention to do so."

The status of Scotland's 23,500 charities is under scrutiny, following legislative changes. Earlier this year, 14 charities were part of pilot assessments. Only two failed the revised charity test: John Wheatley College in Glasgow, and the Voluntary Action Fund. Independent school Dundee High was among those that did meet the test.

Charities test under scrutiny, 12

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