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Headmaster’s Blog 7 November 2011

November 7, 2011

What is a charity?

Recently the long awaited challenge by the Independent Schools’ Council (ISC) to the Charity Commission’s ruling on ‘public benefit’ came to a conclusion – essentially a victory for the ISC. The ‘Daily Telegraph’ reported: Schools with charitable status that charge fees must continue to provide public benefit, but the tribunal ruled that trustees, and not the Commission, should be the judge of how they do this.
One of the main concerns expressed by the ISC was that the Commission was effectively telling schools (which, like Ballard, are educational charities) what proportion of their income should be given away in bursaries. The Charity Commission also seemed to be down-playing the importance of ‘public benefit’ through community links and the sharing of facilities. The threat of censure from this quarter now seems to have diminished allowing our Trustees (the Governors in our case) to decide how best to serve the public interest.
At Ballard we have long held close links with many bodies in the local community and these continue to strengthen. The New Forest Players make use of the PAC in the holidays whilst we offer our facilities to Lymington Netball, New Milton Eagles football, NM Cricket Club and Bashley CC. Our doors open to Mandarin classes on Saturdays, to evening ‘keep fit’ groups mid-week and to young musicians. We have strong links with the Rotary Club, the Lions International and local charities such as Oakhaven and the Piam Brown ward in Southampton. Moreover, we do make available a significant sum of money each year for means-tested bursaries but at least with this new ruling we can feel more secure in being the decision makers in areas such as this.

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