On the definition of a charity

You know, I think that Francis Beckett might want to change his rhetoric here.

How can anyone justify calling something a charity when it is \”fee-charging\” and caters overwhelmingly for those who can afford its fees?

The nef charges people for consultancy, yet it is a charity. The Scott Trust is a charity yet the Guardian newspaper must be paid for in its physical form.

If, because private schools charge fees they are not charities, then so also are huge swathes of those who currently benefit from charity status.

If we\’re to abolish them all, then fine and dandy. But it will have to be those that you benefit from, my lefty friends, as well as the ones that you don\’t like.

22 comments on “On the definition of a charity

  1. Yes as far as it goes , it is still a problem that housing , technology and a two tier education system are fragmenting society.
    This undermines the case for a self determining nation.
    If we are not allowed to bear down on Public schools ( which are designed to cheat others of opportunity ) , then what ? We cannot go on as we are

  2. There are a multitude of charities that charge councils, quangos and Governments for their services. Strike them down by all means!

    Newmania said:

    “If we are not allowed to bear down on Public schools ( which are designed to cheat others of opportunity ) , then what ? We cannot go on as we are”

    Raise standards in the taxpayer funded education system. Unfortunately the last two or three decades suggest that the shortest route to improving education standards is to fiddle the qualifications downwards. That is the problem not public schools. Levelling doesn’t have to involve dragging down those who excel.

  3. NM,

    “If we are not allowed to bear down on Public schools ( which are designed to cheat others of opportunity ) , then what ? “

    That’s a very strong statement. In what way does the existence of a private school actively prevent anyone else – including and especially the state – from providing education of a similar quality?

    I call BS on that.

  4. “Public schools ( which are designed to cheat others of opportunity ) ”

    Utter f’ing nonsense. They are designed with no greater purpose in mind than providing a good education. The problem seems to be, that outside of the private, (Private / Public / Usual nonsense when it comes to naming the non state sector of British education), sector, this has not been the overriding aim of schools.

  5. Newmania,

    If we had to compile a list of “things which are fragmenting society”, then Harrow, Eton and – dare one say it – Downside – would be pretty low down that list; somewhere between “Loose Women” and Jagermeister.

  6. It’s state education which is designed to cheat children of opportunity. It’s main goals are indoctrination and looking after those who work in it, rather than educating.

  7. How exactly did my going to a fee paying school cheat someone else of an opportunity then?

    My parents earned money (the hard way too) and paid tax on it that allowed the State to provide a free education for ALL. Instead of using that free education my parents chose to spend their taxed income on giving me probably the best thing a parent can provide (after their own love and attention), a top class education that not only taught me facts, but taught me discipline, team ethos and how to organise my thoughts. The best grounding for success later in life.

    If the State chooses to waste the money it receives from taxpayers, and provide a poor standard of education, how is that my, or my parents fault?

  8. I see

    Look at the leadership of the Conservative Party its like travelling back to Macmillan’s era . This is symbolic admittedly but the gaps between lowest and highest quintiles are growing problems New Labour have failed to address . Paradoxically they provide the seed bed for pointless measures like the 50p top rate which the IFS assure us will actually lose revenue.
    I would say the problem is one analogous to that of Monopolies .
    Markets do not work unattended they tend to clog and are full of people whose first thought at breakfast is how to undermine them … Anyone first into a field and well financed will concentrate on making it impossible for others to compete . Wealthy people understandably do this for their children. They purchase huge early advantage which is peculiarly useful in the High tech service economy , by the time others have caught up the career an the time has gone .
    This is not only a working class problem it is a lower middleclass problem above all m, the class that used to have opportunity via Grammar schools , the class Ken Clarke belongs to and Cameron does not . George Walden , Peter Oborne and others have remarked on it and it lurks behind the quietly furious Grammar school row

    Unless this disparity of opportunity is addressed then freedom means freedom to grind out miserable lives for some and freedom t colonise the media political and finance nexus for others regardless of merit . We cannot ask people not to do the best for their children it is a clear case of the Common “Problem” on a societal level
    I have hopes of the Swedish model but se this from Ander Hultin in the DT the other day ….looks to me as if we need more market not less ….. He is describing the Swedish model
    …… Of our new breed of “free schools”, 75 per cent are profit-seeking………………. Without the profit element, the research showed, most of our new independent schools would have been very small, and most would have had a religious purpose. ……The Conservatives, however, are planning to keep their “Swedish schools” profit-free and rely on charities, voluntary groups and other philanthropic types. It would certainly buy a little political protection from their ideological enemies, who would otherwise accuse them of trying to privatise the education system. But is it really the Tories’ ambition to create a small number of very good schools with long waiting lists? Such schools may be free to the users but, like the best state schools today, they would be exclusive, luxury destinations for a few privileged people. Is that really the education revolution Cameron has planned? …….

    Even this does not address the coalescing and unsustainably remote ruling class of whom Cameron( who I like and admire ) is typical ….

  9. Newmania – dear chap, you should resurrect your own blog. Then you could post your thoughts there, and need never trouble others with them

  10. NewMania,

    The state subsidy of schooling is the problem. Most tiering effects are caused by the dysgenic policies of the state.

    All parents should pay for their children’s education. If they cannot pay then the state should lend them the money.

    Basically the state should stop bearing down on success, to reward failure. We have to re-assert that the people own the state and not the other way around! The state should take our orders, and certainly should not try to arrange society.

  11. Newmania

    Let us for arguments sake say that wealthy people paying for private education, cheats the poorer.

    What is the solution. Tax them more?

    Well the rich pay more tax.

    Tax the schools, the schools just charge more.

    None of this actually changes anything, and in fact only narrows the amount of people who can afford them, so in fact makes it worse.

    Ban private schools?

    Well that certianlly equals oppertunity rather more, but doesnt actually improve education one bit, does it.

    You seem to be more interested in pulling down the rich, than raising the poor.

  12. NM,

    Since you haven’t answered it, I’ll ask it again: in what way does a private school ACTIVELY PREVENT others from getting a good education?

    That’s in actual real world reasons, not macro-economic or other mumbo-jumbo. (BTW, the state’s utter failure to use the massive education budget isn’t an answer – it is in fact the reason that there is a disparity, but it doesn’t support your assertion).

    “and freedom t colonise the media political and finance nexus for others regardless of merit .” (my emphasis)

    ??? WTF ! eleven!!
    Which is it? Do Private schools give a decent education or not?

    If they do, then your “regardless of merit” falls: the problem is merely that private schools are producing more people capable of doing those jobs.

    If not, where’s the advantage?

  13. The state school system should be closed. It’s crap. It needn’t logically be crap – once upon a time it was seviceable – but it is now crap. The Progressive side of politics won; crappy schools they wanted and crappy schools they got. So close the system and sell the schools off to whomever – private companies, charities, teachers’ co-operatives, whatever. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

  14. Richard – I am not actually and I take your point which is a good one that still leaves us with unsustainable division though
    Cleanthese.- Yes you are right , but when society is obviously un fair and especially to energetic and aspirational people not enough have a vested interest in the status quo.

    The politics of envy are already back..and by the way I am expressing concerns only in ,line with Conservative thinking I am not any sort of socialist

  15. @Newmania: You have your own answer in your own post. The State used to provide a good education service for the masses that had a way of lifting kids from the bottom to the top. They decided (and we voted) for it to be destroyed.

    The private schools were dying on their arses in the 60s and early seventies. Why pay to send little Timmy to private school when you can get him into the local grammar? When they were abolished suddenly there was a huge new market for education.

    You want to lessen the (perceived) social inequality caused by private schools? Make State schools as good as private ones, and they will wither pretty fast. While there will always be a few snobs who fancy social climbing, most vote with their wallets. Free good quality education vs expensive excellent education? No contest.

  16. Newmania, I think your quarrel here is with reality, how things are. There is an ideal lurking at the back of your mind which is a fantasy.

    I do agree with KMcC & wish you would revive your blog (though not for the same reason).

  17. Bring back secondary moderns?

    I don’t think what we have now is any better than they were. The sink comprehensives certainly aren’t.

    Which is worse – a system that actively promotes some on merit and leaves the rest to mediocrity, or a system that provide mediocrity throughout, with pockets of excellence available by lottery/postcode selection?

    The former does give the council house kid a chance, the latter does not. I have experience of the chances the grammar system gave in my family – in the 50s/60s two of my uncles went to the local grammar and thence to university, the first to do so in the family. They both had good careers in education (college and university lecturers), something that would be unlikely from a similar background now.

    Perhaps we need a 13+ exam instead. Teach everyone together to 13, then split into academic and vocational streams. By the age of 13 it should be pretty obvious who wants out at 16, and they should be filtered off to trades training. Taking the most unacademic out of the school system should improve things for everyone else too.

    Don’t forget that vocational training is not the career ending move that it perhaps used to be. Given the choice of practical training as a plumber, electrician, car mechanic etc etc, and the chance of running my own business in a few years, vs A levels, university and a bog standard graduate job in an office in Reading, I’d choose vocational every time. I reckon I’d be making a better living sooner too.

  18. Yes – re-introduce decent vocational schools that ensure the less academically able not only acquire sufficient literacy and numeracy to function effectively in society, but also practical skills that they can use to earn a living (or at least, learn how to learn practical skills). And remember, we can offshore our software development, accountancy, radiographical interpretation, and any number of professions requiring graduate level education, but you cannot source offshore your plumber, decorator, masseur, nurse, bricklayer, plasterer, or any other of those traditional trades.

    Some Secondary Moderns did prepare children in this way (but many failed to do so). It would be wonderful to see some effort on improving education for the many rather than just wrecking it for the few.

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