Views from Edinburgh

Ten Edinburgh independent schools commissioned a report showing the contribution they make to the local economy. John Edward, Director of SCIS, discusses the findings.

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The contribution of the independent sector and its benefit to wider society has never been under such scrutiny. In Scotland, the situation is more acute than in the rest of the United Kingdom. Last year, the Scottish Government took the decision to remove business rates relief from, exclusively, independent schools – regardless of them having passed the public benefit test and despite our schools in Scotland providing means-tested fee assistance of over £30 million in a sector of just under 30,000 pupils.

Too often, the massive contribution schools make is overlooked by politicians and the media. Earlier this year, the independent schools in Edinburgh decided to commission a report to highlight their unique contribution to the city's economy and it makes for very interesting reading – with parallels to be drawn across the UK.

In 2017/18, the Edinburgh independent schools made an economic contribution of £125 million Gross Value Added (GVA), supporting 3,000 jobs. To put this into context, the employment in Edinburgh supported by the city's independent schools is greater than the number of people employed in the food and drink sector in the Scottish capital. Similarly, the schools also make a larger GVA contribution than the food and drink sector in Edinburgh.

"In 2017/18, the Edinburgh independent schools made an economic contribution of £125 million Gross Value Added (GVA), supporting 3,000 jobs. To put this into context, the employment in Edinburgh supported by the city's independent schools is greater than the number of people employed in the food and drink sector in the Scottish capital."

The schools also have a hugely positive impact when it comes to public sector cost savings. The total contribution amounted to £85 million in 2017/18, of which the City of Edinburgh Council benefited by £47 million. This includes educating 14% of Edinburgh primary and secondary school aged pupils, saving more than £46 million in the city – and over £14 million elsewhere in Scotland.

The Edinburgh independent schools make a significant contribution to the city and throughout Scotland. As not for profit organisations, maintaining financial sustainability is of crucial importance as it allows the schools to fulfil their core role of providing education to pupils and enables them to undertake additional activities.

This report seeks to show the level of contribution the schools make to the local and national economic and educational capital, as well as their increasing contribution to widening access and the scale of use of their shared facilities and resources. The schools together educate around 11,700 pupils and employ 2,580 staff. The report has proved so useful, it has prompted the schools to look at a joint marketing identity for Edinburgh, as a uniquely-served city.

John Edward Photo

John Edward is Director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), an educational charity representing and promoting the interests of over 70 independent schools across Scotland. SCIS promotes choice, diversity and excellence in Scottish education.

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