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Independent schools benefit many children who do not even go to them, argues director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools

John Edward explains that after a review commissioned by the Scottish government to enhance and reform our country’s business rates system, one of the main recommendations was to remove mandatory charitable rates relief from Scotland’s independent schools (which is set to cost the sector in the region of £7 million a year).

As part of this change, independent schools will retain their charity status, but will lose out on the principal financial benefit of said status.

As part of their charitable remit, Scotland’s independent schools must allocate a proportion of their fee income to means-tested bursaries, to widen participation in their education.

As a result, since 2005, the provision of means-tested bursaries has tripled, with independent schools dedicating over £31 million a year towards bursaries up to 100 per cent for parents who could not otherwise afford to send their child to an independent school. Data collected from our 74 member schools shows that 25 per cent of mainstream independent pupils in Scotland (that’s over 7,000) receive means-tested assistance.

The fact that Scotland’s independent schools are registered charities first and foremost benefits our young people and their families, as well as the local community and local authority schools. At the end of the day, regardless of the implications for independent schools, the fact that they will retain their charitable status – but will not be eligible for the same financial relief to continue their work as every other registered charity in Scotland, England or Wales – restricts their work and puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

Read more at: https://www.tes.com/news/rates-reform-restricts-work-independent-schools

Mobile addiction: School's phone-free Fridays to help pupils

Teenagers are routinely described as being glued to their mobile phones but at one school they have volunteered to hand them in to teachers once a week.

Christ College Brecon brought in "Phone-Free Fridays" after holding an assembly looking at research into the addictive nature of phones.

Initially it was the pupils' choice to hand them in, but as so many took part it has now become school policy.

Teacher Simon Hill said pupils had become more conscious of their habits.

Mr Hill, deputy head at the private boarding and day school in Brecon, Powys, said he had started to pay closer attention to pupils' use of phones after reading research on the addictive nature of phones.

He held an assembly earlier in the school year to highlight the issue and in follow up conversations with students found that they also had concerns.

Following feedback, the school decided to ask pupils if they would voluntarily hand in their phones to their head of house for the day on Fridays.

Mr Hill said: "It isn't seen as a punishment but as an opportunity to try something new.

"There was talk of almost the release, the freedom it created. It was only one day, so it wasn't too onerous for them."

Pupils have reported feeling more able to focus during homework time and revision.

Read more at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-48272540