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The Advancement of Education

What is meant by ‘the advancement of education’?

1. Charity law gives a wide meaning to education and does not limit it to education in a classroom environment.

2. To be a charitable aim for the public benefit, education must be capable of being ‘advanced’. This means to promote, sustain and increase individual and collective knowledge and understanding of specific areas of study, skills and expertise.

3. Today, education includes:

  • formal education;
  • community education;
  • physical education and development of young people;
  • training (including vocational training) and life-long learning;
  • research and adding to collective knowledge and understanding of specific areas of study and expertise;
  • the development of individual capabilities, competences, skills and understanding.

4. The types of charities that are capable of advancing education include;

  • education establishments such as schools, colleges and universities;
  • organisations supporting the work of education establishments, or associated with them, such as parent-teacher organisations, prize funds, standard-setting organisations, teacher training organisations, student unions, examinations boards;
  • pre-schools and out-of-school education such as playgroups, Saturday schools, summer schools, homework clubs;
  • organisations that support they physical education of young people such as youth sporting facilities;
  • organisations providing life skills training such as the Duke of Edinburgh award schemes, Scouts and Guides, Woodcraft Folk;
  • research foundations and think tanks;
  • learned societies such as the Royal Geographical Society;
  • museums, galleries, libraries, scientific institutes;
  • organisations which fund people’s education;
  • organisations that educate the public in a particular subject, for instance in human rights, climate change, physics, personal financial management;
  • information media such as the internet, radio, television, libraries, information centres, university presses, seminars, conferences and lectures.


Charity Commission guidance

The Advancement of Education for the Public Benefit

This guidance explains the meaning of the advancement of education. It also includes supplementary public benefit guidance for charities whose aims include the advancement of education.

Example objects:

  • To advance the education of the public in the subject of [insert subject to be studied]
  • "To advance the education of the pupils at [the name of the school] by providing and assisting in the provision of facilities [not required to be provided by the local education authority] for education at the school."
  • "For the public benefit to promote the education (including social and physical training) of people [under the age of 25 years] in [place] in such ways as the charity trustees think fit, including by:

1. awarding to such persons scholarships, maintenance allowances or grants tenable at any university, college or institution of higher or further education;

2. providing their education (including the study of music or other arts), to undertake travel in furtherance of that education or to prepare for entry to any occupation, trade or profession on leaving any educational establishment."

  • "To assist in such ways as the charity trustees think fit any charity in [place] whose aims include advancing education of persons under the age of 25 years by developing their mental, physical and moral capabilities through leisure time activities."
  • "For the public benefit to promote learning for pleasure by people no longer in full time employment through the continued development of their individual capabilities, competencies, skills and understanding in subjects of educational value."
  • "To advance the education of the public in general (and particularly amongst scientists) on the subject of particle physics and to promote research for the public benefit in all aspects of that subject and to publish the useful results."

Further information on this subject is available in the Charity Commission guidance: The Advancement of Education for the Public Benefit.

What's New?

Charitable Incorporated Organisations

The long awaited new structure for charities is finally available in England and Wales. Read the Ministerial Statement from Nick Hurd MP: MINISTERIAL STATEMENT - 30 October

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