Who is being unreasonable here regarding school fees?

(84 Posts)
Scitteryscattery Wed 23-Oct-13 23:39:38

Friend A and friend B both send their DDs to the same private school. Both receive a bursary though A gets a larger amount than B. B scrimps and saves. A does as well and must be on a lower income to receive a higher bursary but does sometimes appear to be a little less careful and to have more cash floating around I think she gets into debt quite a lot too

I've just had friend B around this afternoon incandescent with rage as A has been telling her all about her holiday plans this year which consist of a 3 week trip to Japan. Now her DH sometimes has to travel there for work but on this occasion A and the 2 DCs are also going. I understand that work will pay for his airfare and hotel room for the 2 weeks he is working but not the other 3 fares nor the extra week. The grandparents are helping out however.

B tells me that the school have a bursary policy which states that expensive holidays are incompatible with a bursary. Apparently they also consider if other family members are in a position to help with fees though how they work that one out I'm not sure. She is considering reporting them to the school. shock

I have tried to suggest that she doesn't really know A's financial circumstances, that the school may not care anyway even if they do know and that there isn't much point in reporting anyway as the school are bound to find out - they can hardly get their DD to pretend she was on holiday for 3 weeks in a tent in Skegness. B feels the school will take more note if someone complains. Worse still, I've pointed out that the school might actually take it really seriously and stop the bursary. In which case, how will B feel if A can no longer afford to be there? Either way its likely to be the end of their friendship.

I feel a bit stuck in the middle and glad the DCs are still pre-school. Who is being unreasonable here, A or B? I suspect that when B calms down she is unlikely to report A but it has occurred to me someone else might. I am not too aware of how private schools operate anyway and how seriously this would be taken. A can be a bit avoidant about money issues and may have ignored the fact this could cause her problems. Should I tentatively ask A about the bursary policy when she next mentions the holiday to me?

Viviennemary Thu 24-Oct-13 21:17:03

I'd let them get on with it. And do their worse. They sound a pair of charmers!

rootypig Thu 24-Oct-13 21:18:11

Yes. Is that allowed?

::eyebrow arch::

I have restricted my comments to what is material, that is, if you choose to enter a system that is explicitly governed according to ability to pay, a world that revolves around who has what, then don't start bleating about fairness if it's not going your way. It's laughable. Don't get me wrong, I think B should report or not report as she sees fit. I just don't think what A or B is unreasonable, given the morally vapid context. It's private education and a fucking holiday in Japan, people. Get your head out of your arse.

ExitPursuedByABogieMan Thu 24-Oct-13 21:29:36

But the view is great!

rootypig Fri 25-Oct-13 00:36:20

Ha. Some may think so smile

Sunnysummer Fri 25-Oct-13 01:08:04

Another thing to consider is why you are so involved and whether this is making this worse. If you are not actually B in a vague disguise, then why are you discussing this all the time - and are you perhaps fanning the flames of what is ultimately a petty little feud? Whole thread has a bit of a nasty taste to it hmm

IHaveA Fri 25-Oct-13 01:25:49

This is the type of thing you should keep out of completely. It is really gossipy and not very nice. I would tell your friend that you regret letting her discuss it with you and that you don't want to hear about any of it ever again. In future, I would not discuss people's finances.

Easy !

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 09:14:14

Maybe B should be thankful that she gets a bursary too as there will be lots of families paying full fees and struggling to do so and making sacrifices. The way some schools work out bursaries means that those just over the threshold for any help with fees will have no more disposable income than those in receipt of a bursary. Why doesn't B just be grateful for the help that she is being given and stop being a jealous cow.
At the end of the day if the school withdrew As bursary it wouldn't mean that B gets a bigger bursary.

lainiekazan Fri 25-Oct-13 11:00:09

I'm thanking the good Lord that my dcs are not at private schools.

Who doesn't want things to be fair and square? It's all very well to say that B is bitter, and that it's none of anybody else's business, but if you are shelling out hard-earned cash on fees and you see another family who you perceive to be not playing things with a straight bat, then it would be odd if you weren't extremely peeved.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 11:46:48

Does B think that the school witll take the money off A and give it to her?

Stay well out of it, refuse to discuss it, say 'this is none of my business, I don't really wnat to hear about it, if you have a problem with it why not ask A?'

handcream Fri 25-Oct-13 13:41:54

I have a friend who said they got a scholarship to a leading private school. Then she let slip that actually they got a busary too. They are both self employed and both run flashy cars. Couple of hols a year etc.

TBH - I am not sure how they did it. They live in a £600k house. Would I dream of reporting them? No, I wouldnt. If the school is giving out busaries without making proper checks that's their own fault!

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 15:32:21

The only thing that makes me go hmm is if, if the school is using its bursaries or the giving of them as a route towards maintaining its charity status, which of course may not be the case.

IF it is the case, it just could be argued that A is sort of defrauding 'all of us' in that the VAT that the government could collect on fees isn't payable because the school is a charity.

Just a random thought.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 16:54:42

IF it is the case, it just could be argued that A is sort of defrauding 'all of us' in that the VAT that the government could collect on fees isn't payable because the school is a charity.

If the school didn't give any bursaries then they could well lose charity status and have to pay some taxes, however, the cost of giving all the bursary recipients a state education probably far outweighs the private school tax breaks (especially as the largest part of the schools income won't be considered taxable). Private school Tax breaks only amount to around £2-300 per pupil per year. So actually bursaries don't deny the tax payer anything really.

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 17:05:25

It's not the sums, actually, it's the principle. And £2-300 per year, multiplied over 7% of school aged DC isn't nothing, is it?

Sorry, but I don't buy into the 'we private parents are doing the rest of you a favour' argument. 'Be grateful'. But please overlook that we are ensuring our DCs advantage over yours and that the bursary may well be depriving a state school of a good, solid pupil, one who at its basest, might improve the league table position, the same league tables private opting parents cite as being a reason why they must go private... I am not confusing bursaries and scholarships (which are more iniquitous in that regard) but the sort of parent who seeks out and goes through the hoops to get a bursary, and even plays the system to do so such is their 'commitment' might be the sort who'd be very involved and committed to a DC's education, maybe an asset to a state school?

I am not entering into a state versus private argument, just establishing some facts, and stating why I think the 'it's no one else's business' isn't maybe quite 100% accurate.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 17:06:46

I have just checked and the tax breaks that private schools collectively get are worth an estimated £88m per year. There are an estimated 500,000 pupils currently in private schools across the UK so the tax breaks really are minimal when you consider the cost per pupil. Each one of those pupils would cost around 5k per year to be educated by the state. So I don't feel the argument that Erebus puts forward is very valid.
Tax would not be payable on the tuition full fees paid if schools didn't have charitable status because like any business they can deduct essential expenses from the fee income (teachers salaries, energy costs etc). Only the profit element would be taxable.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 17:09:16

erebus where would you educate those 7% of pupils when many state schools are bursting at the seams. Additionally where would the extra almost £5k per year to educate each of those 7% come from?

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 17:20:35

So... um... why have so many private schools made such a big deal about potentially losing their charitable status if the money involved is negligible? Why would they, sometimes to the evident irritation of their fee paying parents, open their facilities to the locals? Share teachers with local state schools? Why would they do that if the tax break wasn't worth the paper it was written on?

And oddly enough, most western economies manage to state educate their young.

Is it just possible that the status quo is being maintained? And that if a government came along that a) removed the charitable tax break, b) insisted state universities took the context of pupils exam results into account in offering lower course requirement grades for DC from poor areas etc- suddenly we might find, amazingly, that the state can afford to educate those DC after all! Especially as many of the sorts of parents who could previously afford private would be baying for a higher standard of state schooling.

Just a thought or two.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 17:27:14

So are you saying that university's should be taking into account where a pupil was educated and being more lenient and having lower expectations of state education students?
If that's the case then you really have a very low opinion of the ability of state schools and the children that attend them.
Have you any reason to believe that a state school can't get children through with straight A's?

meditrina Fri 25-Oct-13 17:30:21

" the VAT that the government could collect on fees " .. is zero, because education (other than at a few specified types of crammer) is an exempt item.

A charitable school "saves" about £200 per pupil per year on VAT that would otherwise be payable on sundry items in the wider accounts. That could be compared to the £6000ish per pupil per year that the Government isn't spending on providing those school places.

meditrina Fri 25-Oct-13 17:33:38

"So... um... why have so many private schools made such a big deal about potentially losing their charitable status if the money involved is negligible?"

Because under the law as it stands, you cannot just relinquish charitable status (they'd be queuing up to do it if they could). Unless and until there is a change in the law, they would have to close in accordance with the usual rules for winding up a charity, sell off all major assets and donate proceeds to a charity with similar aims. I think it is understandable that they don't want to shut.

handcream Fri 25-Oct-13 18:06:18

Some just think that if privates were abolished it would be fairer on the rest. Where on earth would the pupils be placed? There would be no extra money from these pupils just a demand to give them a place.

Some people live in cloud cukoo land and pretend its not the money - its the principle.

handcream Fri 25-Oct-13 18:10:04

Giving state school pupils 'points' just for going to a certain state school! What rubbish... Surely we should be looking at why the privates get such good results and not have such low expectations of some state schools. Lets fix them first.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 25-Oct-13 21:02:37

Giving extra points to students attending certain schools would benefit those students now.

My DCs attend a school which is in the bottom 20 in England. This school has been crap for years and we dont have a choice about where to send the DCs as it is the only school in the town.

Pie in the sky ideas about improving the worst schools are damn all use to my DCs. I want my DCs to get some sort of help now.

Unless you have experienced it yourself I think that very few people realise just how bad a bad school is.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 23:36:06

I have experienced very poor schools and chose to do something about improving my children's education.
We can't go giving extra points to kids because the 'school is crap' otherwise you open the floodgates for everyone to argue their school is crap.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 26-Oct-13 07:52:45

So what is this magic 'something' which can be done about my DC's education on top of the normal parental things of supervising homework, listening to reading, visiting museums etc?

Oh and it has to cost no money because I havent any left

Also these 'somethings' have to be available to students to access directly where their parents/guardians arent able or interested in accessing them on behalf of their DCs.

I suspect that if you did offer extra points to students who attended the poorest schools in the country then wealthier parents would choose to move their DCs to these schools. This would have a natural effect of improving the school (the hidden extra funding which comes from wealthier parents, more 'establishment' parents to fight for resources etc etc).

happygardening Sat 26-Oct-13 08:29:17

Worry whilst I feel sorry for you problems with poor quality state education I'm afraid you are deluding yourself if you think parents stumping up £34 000+ a year in education would choose to move their DC's to the poorest schools to get extra points (which of course would be removed as soon those sort of parents arrived because it would no longer be a poor school).
There is no point in attacking independent schools. It's not their fault that there are poor state schools or that they can offer so much more the fault primarily lies with government, of any political persuasion, they decide how much taxes etc that we all pay and what to do with this money. They also continuously interfere in education. Other factors also drive MC parents to the independent sector, local admission processes seem unbelievably complex and illogical, post code education, lack of sporting opportunities worry many, lack of after school clubs and many more, none of this is the fault of independent schools.

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