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to not pay 1st term fees for a school my DC is not going to?

(112 Posts)
staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 15:55:35

Bit of a long story but...

DC didn't get into any of her state school choices in April. After a few weeks of panicking and getting nowhere with the LEA, we reluctantly registered her private, paying a deposit of £1000+. A couple of weeks later, the council acknowledged they'd calculated our route wrong etc and we got a place in our first choice state school. I emailed the private school saying that DC would not be going there, though we had paid the deposit, they migth as well keep the place open for her (they are not full, indeed are undersubscribed so we were not taking up anyone else's place), though we didn't need home visit/induction/uniform details etc.

Now have jsut received an invoice for first term fees. According to them, we had to give a term's notice in writing - though we only registered her half-way through the summer term anyway, and thn told them she wasn't going two weeks later.

Are we at all liable for these fees? We've already lost the deposit, which is fair enough, but it never occurred to me they might pursue us for fees as well. Are they likely to seriously expect us to pay them?!

lulumama Fri 18-Jul-08 15:57:41

but you asked them to keep the place open?

i suppose it depends on what you ahve signed etc..

staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 16:03:41

Just to add, what we did was not unusual round here - where we live, all the state schools are oversubscribed so it is not unusual to register private as a fallback plan in case the state school place doesn't come up. I jsut cant believe that all those parents are paying £3500+ plus the deposit for a school they're not going to?

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 18-Jul-08 16:04:55

If you asked them to keep the place open then a bill should not be unexpected.

lulumama Fri 18-Jul-08 16:05:44

in that case i am not surprised the school charge, if they are holding places for parents who have no intention of using them !

have a look at what you signed

whether they pursue you or not depends on the goodwill of the school if you are legally bound by what you signed.

Blu Fri 18-Jul-08 16:09:16

I don't think it is unusual to aply t a private school pending the results of state aplications - BUT presumably most people then clearly decline the private place?

You seem to have caused some cinfusion asking f her place to be kept ipoen - though you say you did e mail to say she wouldn't be going there.

Look v carefully at any paperwork you have between you and the schol, thier admissions procedure and any info (including small print) on their website, in the prospectus etc.

Then write pointing out that you did say in your e mail that she would not be going there.

But did you actually accept a place before contacting them again?

Hulababy Fri 18-Jul-08 16:10:02

Just replied on your other thread.

You asked them to keep a place open for your child - therefore you accepted the place. You paid a deposit, again accepting a place for the coming year.

I would be suprised if you have not at some point been sent documentation which outlined this policy - it is very common in private school to have a cancellation notice period.

Even if you didn't dign anything direct, tyou could still be liable - if you paid the deposit, accepting a place, having recieved the documentation - the deposit could be constred to be you accepting the conditions of placement.

beanieb Fri 18-Jul-08 16:14:42

Just don't pay it. what can they do?

partaria Fri 18-Jul-08 16:16:34

why ask to keep the place open ?

staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 16:17:06

But even if we paid the deposit, surely if we then said she would not be going, that counts as cancellation? Their notice period is a term but this wasn't possible as we only registered her half-way through the term.

I know of at least two other children who are in the same situation - surely we're not all expected to pay?! I admit, I have no experience of how private schools work but I'd be amazed if they were this mercenary.

partaria Fri 18-Jul-08 16:18:00

Technically it doesn't matter whether or not the school is oversubscribed; you have a contract with them which will have certain terms in it to which you have agreed.

KatieDD Fri 18-Jul-08 16:18:04

Oh dear I got tken to court over exactly the same thing and they won i'm afraid, cost me over £5k for three places.
I would try negotiating with them now, offer them half.

staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 16:18:48

we kept it open becuaswe we had a long long wrangle withteh LEA re. getting the state school place, there were lots of rumours going round etc and therefore we wanted a fallback option. We thought that paying the deposit of £1200 would entitle us to this, even though we had told them that DD wouldn't be attending. The fees are officialy due first day of term.

LookattheLottie Fri 18-Jul-08 16:19:47

If you are made to pay could you not ask the counil to pay these fees seeings at it was them that cocked up when they 'calculated our route wrong etc', which then meant you had to register your child privately?

Sorry I know little about this sort of thing, did your register your child after you had been told you couldn't have a place for her in a state school? Or have I read this wrong?

If that is the case then surely it's down to a council error which may then make them liable for the costs?

chocolatedot Fri 18-Jul-08 16:21:36

I'd be surprised if they didn't pursue it. I know of a situation where a school sent in the bailiffs to recover the term's fees.

staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 16:21:41

Nice idea Lottie but the council is not legally liable to give DD a place this year as she won't be 5 til next June. Would love to see their faces if I even asked them however!

itati Fri 18-Jul-08 16:21:54

But you asked them to keep the place open for her after you had received a place at a state school?

KatieDD Fri 18-Jul-08 16:22:29

What I would hit the fucking roof if my local council paid private school fees because of that, peoples council tax being given to a private school ???
Jesus they'd wet themselves laughing if you called and suggested that.

LookattheLottie Fri 18-Jul-08 16:23:22

Was just kind of clutching at straws lol!

staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 16:23:29

Yes, because we thought that keeping our options open as long as poss. was the best option, especially given the ongoing arguments with the LEA. We thought that's what paying the deposit entitled us to!

lulumama Fri 18-Jul-08 16:23:31

you cannot believe they woulod be so mercenary ! it is a fee paying school, they held a place for your DD.. they want what is there money, legally, based on their terms and conditions surely?

SqueakyPop Fri 18-Jul-08 16:24:14

Paying a deposit of £1000 is a confirmation of accepting the place. After that point, you would need to give a term's notice. If you don't explicitly give the term's notice, then you will be expected to take up your place in September.

It is always best to be completely open with a school and be frank about your intentions. If you live in an area where there are appeals for state schools, the private school will totally understand and will work with you. However, they are not mind-readers, and you can only hedge so much.

staranise Fri 18-Jul-08 16:25:43

But how can I give them a term's notice if there was only a half-term left?

LookattheLottie Fri 18-Jul-08 16:26:25

Well from what the op has said it looked like this situation arose from an error on the councils behalf, in some situations that surely could make them liable to cover costs?

Perhaps not in this case though.

elmoandella Fri 18-Jul-08 16:27:05

you say it's common practice in your area to do as you have done. i.e asking them to keep place then backing out with no notice.

i'm not suprised they are charging you. as you have said to keep the place open. they will have assumed you may put dc in the school. i'm not a teacher. but i'm sure they will have made some sort of preperation for the school year ahead which will have included your child in the headcount. they will have used financial figures which include your fees as a projection. they will have budgeted with this in mind.

say this scenario happens with several children a year. think how big a whole these parents who fail to pay have made in their budget. the poor person who deals with the finances will have to draw up a new budget. which will mean not only have they lost the income from your fees. but will incur further costs and time to pay someone to redo these figures.

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