Victories – past, prospective, real and imagined are on my mind: Bedales’ win in two out of the four Marlborough football XIs last weekend; the prospect of the Welsh XV defeating the French this morning has me waking up feeling very Welsh (remembering that element of my Celtic fringeness) and wondering what my Welsh-speaking grandmother would think of it all – well, there’s no doubt as she used to tell the story of how (in her day) judges described Wales as “the land of the white gloves” because they never had to find anyone guilty of any crimes when officiating there; the prospect of a Bedales football victory against Winchester this afternoon.
The real and current victory is the ruling by the High Court in favour of independent schools that will make the Charity Commission re-write the part of its guidance that seemed to be forcing independent schools to show public benefit primarily through devoting a proportion of their income to giving bursaries to what it defined as ‘the poor’. Thankfully, the ruling gives back greater independence to schools to determine how they meet their obligation as charities and are therefore of benefit to the general public. The ruling does not take away the need for independent schools to be of benefit to people beyond those who can afford to pay and to have good bursary provision. Although the coalition government had signalled that it was not going to be hawkish in its use of the previous guidance, it is a relief that future, less sympathetic governments, will not be able to use the Charity Commission as a way of waging proxy war on the independent sector. One finger therefore of the dead hand of regulation has been taken from us.
As for our schools, our policy on financial support, outreach and links with community mainly pre-date the sword-rattling of the Charity Commission: you do these things because they are the right things to do – and of course we will keep doing them. The imagined victory? The unanswered questions: will young black dog (Zazu, 6 months’ birthday yesterday) overcome her newfound phobia of the kitchen floor? Will the chickens stop eating each other’s eggs? Will we manage to find the eggs that they may or may not lay in the garden faster than Zazu?