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Fees negotiation?

(35 Posts)
sallythesheep73 Wed 14-Feb-18 07:47:17

Ds1 is keen to move to a private school. We have chosen the school. It will be a very small class and so they are keen to get extra students. They have offered us 1 term free as an incentive.
We also have DD1 who we hope will follow him in 2 years. However I think once she sees all the lovely things her brother is doing I fear she we will want to move sooner. DD1's class is also very small and i suspect they would welcome additional pupils.
Should I ask for 1 term free for DD1? Do I do that now or when she is moving? Or should I try to get a % reduction?
Anyone had any experience of this?

Gruach Wed 14-Feb-18 07:52:53

Have you considered that it's unlikely the school will still exist in two years?

No thriving independent school needs to offer such incentives.

What is the particular attraction of this school for you? And have you checked its accounts?

Justquery Wed 14-Feb-18 07:55:51

I have to say, I’ve never heard of an independent school giving such an incentive?

user187656748 Wed 14-Feb-18 07:57:24

Never heard of it either which doesn't bode well. I would expect it to close in the near future and so wouldn't move my DC there. Lots of private schools have closed in recent years and its so disruptive for the children.

homebythesea Wed 14-Feb-18 08:00:18

You don’t say how old your DS is but I’d be extremely wary if senior school age. Small classes and sweeteners to joiners sounds like a school desperate for bums on seats and will not be sustainable. Times are tough for many small schools and Margins can be as tight as 2 pupils leaving to push the school over the edge.

AnotherNewt Wed 14-Feb-18 08:08:37

Some schools offer a sibling discount. Ask.

But schools don't cut individual deals with parents outside their published discounts, scholarships and bursaries. Well, not those who don't want to piss off their current parents.

There may be those who are prepared to alienate their existing parents by offering discounts to some (at expense of those paying full fees which have to cover discounts). I would look very carefully at both the ethos of such a school and it's financial soundness.

twinone Wed 14-Feb-18 08:20:12

Small classes aren't always great for friendship.
I know more than one child who struggled in small classes, they only flourished when they went to high school.

Justquery Wed 14-Feb-18 08:24:09

Have you looked anywhere else? How many is a small class? It does sound like they could be having financial troubles as a lot of small independent schools are these days

StellaHeyStella Wed 14-Feb-18 08:41:59

I tend to agree with what pp have said - good, thriving independent schools do not offer free terms as a signing up incentive. They charge you for a days trial, interview you and your dc, decide if they want to offer your dc a place, and then charge a hefty joining deposit too of course.
How many independent schools have you looked round? Have you been too impressed by the first one you've seen perhaps?
I would be concerned about the financial stability of this school, tread carefully and do your research.

Only1scoop Wed 14-Feb-18 08:45:12

Dd school did a free term, but only for boys as it's going co Ed <to survive> hmm

sallythesheep73 Wed 14-Feb-18 08:45:56

Thanks for the input.
Where we live there are limited prep schools and the quality of state schools is poor so we've arrived at the selection after about 2 years of hunting! The school is a feeder to our prefered senior school and no smaller or larger than any other prep school in our area.
Where we live all these prep schools are non selective and it's pretty much a buyers market.
A agree small classes are not always socially ideal.
Other years in the school have 40 pupils so we seem to have hit the anomalies!
A prep school teacher friend of mine has advised 1st term free is a typical incentive. I appreciate this may not be the norm in London but we are outside the M25 ;-).
I just wondered if anyone has had this discussion before.

Gruach Wed 14-Feb-18 08:46:11

Perhaps you'll offer more information OP - but, even for the less selective independents, "we have chosen the school" isn't usually the full process. Generally it's the school that chooses ...

We may all be wrong of course.

Gruach Wed 14-Feb-18 08:47:07

Crossed you - but I would still be very wary!

user187656748 Wed 14-Feb-18 08:49:18

I'm also way outside the M25 and it isn't the norm

TheNecroscope Wed 14-Feb-18 08:52:13

I work at an independent school outside the m25 and it's certainly not typical there. However if it's an anomalous year group and they want to get the numbers up for that year, I would maybe be less concerned. You can always ask- they can always say no!
FWIW, my Dd struggled enormously with small class sizes at primary (at both a local village school and at the independent). And not just small class sizes but small numbers of girls in particular. Huge friendship issues because the pool of girls was only 4 or 5.
She's at a large secondary now and absolutely thriving. Small classes don't suit everyone.

Gruach Wed 14-Feb-18 08:53:24

I am certainly not referring to London schools ...

Only1scoop Wed 14-Feb-18 08:53:59

Our three closest prep schools are non selective Op

When I read about schools, particularly in the south it sounds like a completely different world.

BertrandRussell Wed 14-Feb-18 08:55:14

Don't ever go to a private school that's scratching around for pupils.

Justquery Wed 14-Feb-18 08:58:25

We are in Scotland and this also isn’t the norm.
They do taster days for the children which is usually covered by your application fee.
Be very wary! Last thing you would want is to change midway through starting.

sallythesheep73 Wed 14-Feb-18 08:59:51

If it's any help the prep school has already gone coed...! Hence plan to send both children.
There are 4 prep schools near us and we could get into them all. More spaces than children I'm afraid. State sector is the same. Most primaries have less than 70 children so it will be going to a bigger school with more opportunities for our children.
If it cheers anyone up there was a prep school with only 50 children and that did close 3 years ago!

meditrina Wed 14-Feb-18 09:03:32

It sounds a bit unusual to me too.

But if it is standard (ie part of a business model that works for them) then it's probably not worrying in itself. Nor would a standard sibling discount be worrying. So if published as 'this is how we structure our fees' that may well be OK. Individual deals beyond their published fee structure would not be OK.

Do ask now what their fee structure for siblings is (I wouidn't ask for anything in particular, just find out what they do).

homebythesea Wed 14-Feb-18 11:37:24

If there are several schools in your area all competing for a small number of potential pupils then one or more will go under unless they have significant legacy funds. What happens is a school contracts, locals start to question its viability and/or the desirability of being in very small year groups as pp have mentioned and you get into a downward spiral of numbers/income to the point the money runs out. The school need to employ the same teachers and other staff whether there are 5 or 25 in each form. However their break even point may be 10-15 pupils. You can see how it ends up not adding up.

I’d be seeking views of current parents. Have their been cutbacks at school, increased pressure on parent fundraising, reduced food quality, fewer extra curricular activities? If it’s a limited company you can find the accounts. If not I think it’s still within your right to ask for them.

Justquery Wed 14-Feb-18 14:15:58

Maybe it’s worth posing on site asking for opinions? If anyone knows what’s really going on it’s probably people within the school itself.

tomhazard Wed 14-Feb-18 14:18:20

How small? Be careful- I work in an all through independent and the lower years are very small indeed- it is causing financial problems and they have almost closed a few times. I suspect they will close the juniors within a few years

LIZS Wed 14-Feb-18 14:26:12

I'd be wary of small year groups. It creates issues with friendship opportunities and activities such as competitive sport, drama and so on. Several smallish independent schools, prep and senior, near us have struggled in recent year - one closed at very short notice last year , another 2 were taken over by separate management groups and are still actively recruiting pupils to reach viability.

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