SCOTTISH private schools save the public purse up to £30 million a year by educating pupils who would otherwise have gone to the state sector, a new report has concluded.

The analysis for the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (Scis) estimates that more than 8,000 pupils received financial support in 2014/15 amounting to nearly £50m.

BiGGAR Economics, an independent economic consultancy based near Edinburgh, said a significant proportion of these pupils would have been educated in state schools without the provision of financial help.

It concluded: "The total financial assistance provided by Scis members in 2015 could have generated savings of between £14.2m and £29.7m for the Scottish state education sector."

Overall, BiGGAR found Scis schools generated £247m for the public exchequer – equivalent to £102 per household in Scotland - and supported over 10,500 jobs.

The report was published in the wake of an investigation by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator into the charitable status of private schools in 2012 - a status which exempts them from paying millions of pounds in rates and taxes.

The inquiry looked at the wider public benefit schools were providing, as well as their fee levels and the number of means-tested bursaries on offer and some were told to improve financial assistance for poorer pupils or face sanctions.

John Edward, director of Scis, said the report proved private sectors made a significant contribution to wider Scottish public life and economy.

He said: "The independent analysis is a sterling report card for the sector. On top of a substantial widening access programme, and consistently stellar attainment, schools are also recognised for the wider contribution they make to the communities they are part of.

"Everyone is interested in achieving the best for Scotland’s young people and recognising what works in education. The independent sector, though modest in size, continues to pull considerable weight in moving the country forward."

The report found that the region that provides the largest amount of financial assistance is Edinburgh and the Lothians, which provided £11.1m to 1,072 pupils in 2015/16. Scis schools in the region also provided £6.8m of non-means tested financial assistance to 2,051 pupils.

It also said 15 schools provided public access to sports facilities in 2015 including swimming pools, sports pitches, games halls, tennis courts, gyms and a ski slope.

"For some schools public access appears to be significant, amounting to several hundred and even in some cases several thousand people per year."

BiGGAR Economics has undertaken similar assessments for Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, St Andrews, Aberdeen, Robert Gordon and Glasgow Caledonian universities.

Meanwhile, Scis has also announced that the Right Honourable Lady Anne Smith has been appointed as its new chair. She replaces Anton Colella, the chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland, who has been in the post for the past six years.

Mr Edward said: "We are delighted that someone with the experience and skills of Anne Smith is willing to take the chair and look forward to working with her over the coming years."