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school fees in lieu of notice

(2 Posts)
suzanne513 Tue 18-Apr-17 16:00:35

Well, this isn't a new subject by any means, although my issue has a couple of twists that I would welcome thoughts on.
Firstly I am a single mum, with a bright child. she was offered a place at a very popular private school. I applied for a bursary, although they offered 40% bursary, it was always going to be a struggle.
there was pressure to sign up, so not wanting to lose the place and believing my risk was £500 (the deposit), I completed the acceptance form. it was emphasised that the deposit was non refundable and given I was moving my daughter from the state to the private sector at 11, I wasn't familiar with the private schools complex contracts.
I was then approached from another private school sometime towards the end of May, they were keen to sign up my daughter and although we had previously dismissed their offer of a 40% scholarship, they pursued us, culminating in a 75% scholarship for her time at the school, should she take up their offer of a place.
As funds were tight and I actually beliweved the school was a better fit, albeit not as acclaimed as the first school, I decided to take the plunge.
it was near the end of August by the time all the contracts and figures were agreed and thus I put my hands up, re the very short notice period given to the heavily over subscribed school we had initially paid the £500 deposit.
a week later, they call to say I owed them a terms fees, even thought we hadn't started, nor had the terminology in the contract made this clear. in fact we would have had to provide notice of our intent, not to start at the school by the 15th of April before the Sept 6th start, not to attract the £5300 terms fees!
I research as I was flabbergasted and indeed speechless when I realised the school was going to chase for a whole terms fees minus the 40% bursary. although that sounds fair, given I struggle as a single parent, I was transferring from the state system and in 2015 the Consumer retail act was published with a specific focus on independent schools contract wording. requesting schools revamp their wording, so its easy to read and understand.
the school we finally agreed on has updated their wording and there is no doubt what your liabilities are, given there are examples to illustrate the meanings, timescales etc. Although the first school, hadn't bothered to update theirs, hence I appear to have fallen into what I feel is a trap regarding fees for a school my daughter never attended.
Any thoughts or solicitors interested in taking up my defence, given I believe the contract should have been updated to remove the ambiguity regarding new starters liabilities should they change their mind after the 4.5 month deadline prior to starting.
Many thanks for reading and any constructive thoughts shared.

LIZS Wed 19-Apr-17 10:03:34

Sounds normal to pay in lieu if you miss the full term's notice deadline. in fact they could probably ask for the full amount. if you dispute the contract wording you could ask CAB to look it over. You could offer a repayment plan, otherwise they could take you to court.

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