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To not pay the term's notice school fees

(33 Posts)
SchoolIssue1 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:24:59

My DD5 started at a local private school in September. She has special needs and it seemed the best school to cater for her needs. All was reasonably ok. It was a very lively class with quite a few boys with behavioural problems which resulted in them bringing in an additional TA. Since Christmas we have started to worry about safety at the school. It is a rural school but almost all doors are just left open during the day as the children move around the different buildings. Anyone could just walk in off the street and have access to the whole school. This has worried us and, despite it being brought up in many parents meetings, it is brushed under the carpet. They also manage the behaviour of the children by telling them that there are cameras watching their every move - there isn't and my daughter was so terrified they had to tell her the truth. The PTA are organising a sleepover, however, despite my clear concerns (I am on the PTA) they are allowing parents who haven't been DBS checked to sleep next to unaccompanied children. The final straw came last week when the school failed their compliance inspection on safeguarding (and therefore leadership and management too). They said it was a paperwork issue but, to be honest, we have no way of knowing what it was. The trust is gone for us and we can't leave her there. We have found somewhere for her for after Easter (she is at home with me at the moment). Do you think we would be unreasonable to not pay the term's fees for next term due to them failing safeguarding?

Laquila Tue 21-Mar-17 21:26:58

You might not be unreasonable but you would presumably be in breach of contract. The school sounds dreadful. Are you in the U.K.?

ivykaty44 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:26:59

Have any of your previous complaints been in writing?

DaisyBlameless Tue 21-Mar-17 21:27:04

I don't think you're being unreasonable, but they will sue you for it and usually win. The contract terms are water tight in all of the schools I've worked in.

user1490123259 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:28:24

I suspect you will need to pay them. You could just say you are not going to, and see what happens. You don't want to get taken to court, or anything do you? To be fair, the school probably doesn't want to o to court either, but are unlikely to want to set a precedent. They may feel they would be better off in the long run taking you to court. And then you would lose.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:28:28

If you are contracted to pay them, you need to pay them. They won't let you off without a fight.

wizzywig Tue 21-Mar-17 21:29:45

Id want my child out of that school. Please report them

meditrina Tue 21-Mar-17 21:36:13

You need to at least start the grievance procedure (it is not reasonable to break a contract without going through the procedures for remedy within the contract). Have you done so, and have you emails recording every time you raised issues and the school's response to each one?

I don't think the activities of the PTA will be relevant to your contract with the school itself.

harderandharder2breathe Tue 21-Mar-17 21:41:12

You're not unreasonable but you may well have to if you've signed the contract.

It sounds shocking for safeguarding. School doors being locked has been standard for years (since Dunblane?) and the sleepover sounds illthought out at best, potential disaster at worst. DBS isn't a free pass, but it's one important step in a comprehensive safe guarding policy (or should be!) I'm a Guide leader and as well as having a DBS, leaders wouldn't normally sleep in a room with girls (have done in a sleepover where there was nowhere else but still cordoned off a leaders corner, and all the girls and all the leaders were there, safety in numbers I guess), never allow yourself to be alone with a girl etc

Mostly their attitude when these concerns are raised is horrendous. Even if they have justification for not locking doors (e.g. A super secure campus) they should explain this.

SchoolIssue1 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:44:38

I did suspect that there would be no getting out of it. It will cripple us for a few months but we can do it. I don't want her to stay any longer so we need to do this. I do intend to report the PTA issue to the ISI as I do think children are going to be put at risk. We have nothing in writing - only the minutes of the parents meeting where the issues are raised and denied by the school so there is no way forward really. Yes, it is in the uk.

Orangebird69 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:48:53

You'll have to pay. DH is a commercial director and deals with contracts/breaches all the time. You can't breach it (by not paying) because you feel they've breached theirs. Yanbu to feel as you do but I don't think you can get away with not paying.

ShoeEatingMonster Tue 21-Mar-17 21:50:05

Major safeguarding breach!! One of the few complains that ofsted do take seriously. Report.

springflowers11 Tue 21-Mar-17 21:54:06

I don't think a locked door would stop the Dunblane -type killer getting in- they would just put a stone through teh window, or make up a plausible reson to get buzzed in
Neither do I think non-DBSed parents attending a school function is an issue

Benedikte2 Tue 21-Mar-17 22:20:48

I would write a letter to the school stating your intention not to pay on the ground that you believe the school is in breach of its duty to provide a safe learning environment, that the lax safeguarding policy has been brought to the notice of the staff but that nothing has been done to rectify the situation. You have therefore been forced to remove your daughter and put to additional expense in enrolling her at another school.
Then sit back and see what the school's response is. If they threaten legal action tell them you are not in a position to pay the whole term's fees up front but will pay it off. If they are not reasonable speak to the headteacher on the phone and tell him you are very disappointed by his attitude and are considering going to the local newspaper to complain about the safeguarding issues.
When I visited schools in a professional role I had to buzz foe entry, sign a register etc -- none of the school's I visited in a number of counties/boroughs had an open door policy.

cafenoirbiscuit Tue 21-Mar-17 22:23:34

I've taken my DC out twice for similar breaches of care, and never paid yet. Write to the governors outlining your concerns, look at school policies for breaches, and put this in your letter.
Failing that, a report to IAPS, discuss with the local authority - esp if they accept Early Years funding, suggest that a public court case might not be in the schools best interests ..... I think they have got bigger fish to fry than pursuing you.

SchoolIssue1 Tue 21-Mar-17 22:26:32

They have opted out of early years finding and stopped boarding, i suspect because they would be ripped to pieces by ofsted. The ISI seem rather more forgiving but even they have found fault now.

SchoolIssue1 Tue 21-Mar-17 22:26:47

Sorry funding not finding

OreoDream Wed 22-Mar-17 08:41:43

It sounds shocking OP!! I'm appalled that any school would have that attitude.

Please please complain to everyone you can - OFSTED, ISI, local council Safeguarding. IAPS if applicable. Mostly to the safeguarding team though!

I'd really hope that school is not an IAPS School!

MrsTwix Wed 22-Mar-17 08:45:14

I'd consider not paying and tell them they can take it to court and you will explain exactly why you haven't paid. See if they back down.

remoaniac Wed 22-Mar-17 08:46:23

You are contracually obliged to pay - but presumably they are also contractually obliged to give their pupils a reasonable standard of education.

Look at the Consumer Rights Act. Under that, a service provider has to provide the services with reasonable skill and care.

You can say I'm not paying the notice because you have not provided the services with reasonable skill and care.

Will they want to litigate? I suspect not, if they think you've a chance of winning. It would not be good publicity for them.

ZogsAnon Wed 22-Mar-17 08:49:32

Wondering if the the school could be in breach of contract? They sound awful.

honeylulu Wed 22-Mar-17 08:50:40

I wonder if you can argue that the breaches were so serious that the contract is void. This might not work but if you also make noises about adverse publicity regarding the lack of safeguarding for these particularly vulnerable children they might quietly let you off or at least compromise on the fees.

AnotherNewt Wed 22-Mar-17 08:55:51

If she started in September, and you have concerns only this term, then there this is a situation that can be remedied (by return to the previous procedures)

Have you actually raised this with the school? How did they respond?

NotTheMrMenAgain Wed 22-Mar-17 09:21:53

I think you need to pay, it's in the contract you signed. I pulled my DD out of a private school during the year after reception, because the teacher couldn't cope with the behaviour of some of the children and complaints from parents. I knew something wasn't right, looked around and found a much better, smaller private school where she's now very happy. After I told the first school she was leaving I discovered that the teacher had told the children that what happens at school stays in school, and they shouldn't go home and tell their parents about it complain angry.
To me this was totally unacceptable and inappropriate, because what kind of adult teaches children to collude in keeping secrets from their parents? I was furious and removed DD the following day, writing off a terms worth of fees. I was so relieved to get her out of that environment I just threw the money at them and walked away. I suppose I could have complained and refused to pay, but once you've decided to leave you're depicted as a disgruntled parent with an axe to grind. I've got friends with children still at the school - it doesn't sound any better.
Use it as a learning experience, a life lesson - pay, walk away knowing you're in the right. I'd bet the school would fight tooth and nail over the money - would it be worth the time and stress involved?

namechangedtoday15 Wed 22-Mar-17 09:25:14

Is the outside gate controlled (so the doors are unlocked but you have to be buzzed through a gate to actually get on the premises?)

I could be wrong but the PTA organising a sleep over is separate to the school - presumably this is an opt in event (you don't have to go if its organised by the PTA) and if you're uncomfortable with the arrangements, then you don't need to let your daughter attend. I don't think that issue would be justification for taking your daughter out of school.

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