The unearned privilege of charity law: how the law maintains elite education

Tilly Clough*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


In England and Wales, fee-charging independent schools can be legally classified as charities and, therefore, receive associated benefits, the most obvious being taxation advantages. The high fees charged by many of these schools create financial exclusivity, which, it will be seen, confers significant social and cultural capital to those who can meet the economic barrier to entry. High fees lead to increased wealth for the schools, which is augmented by their charitable fiscal benefits. In exchange for receiving these charitable benefits, one might expect charity law to place significant social contribution requirements on these schools. However, this paper will argue that this is not the case: the law, in fact, requires very little from charitable independent schools. In practice, charity law cannot mitigate inequalities within elite education nor justify their taxation advantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-431
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 05 May 2024


  • charitable oversight
  • charity law
  • elite education
  • Private schools
  • public benefit
  • tax advantages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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