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Bassett House School North Kensington ***title edited by MNHQ***

(23 Posts)
Charlotte41 Thu 07-May-15 12:49:02

Normally I don`t post on social networks but I just want everybody to know about the bad and ignorant experience we`ve made with Bassett House School and the registrar Mrs. Goodeve-Docker from Orchard House School. When we got the news nearly two years ago our son got a place at Bassett House for September 2015 starting in Lower1 we were relieved to get in at least in one school. As from abroad anyway it was hard to find out all about schools especially in Notting Hill you have to register early and pay enormous fees in advance until February we`ve paid £ 5000. - Term fees in advance to Bassett House School for our son starting in September 2015 at Bassett House School. In March unfortunately my husband got informed that we have to move back and we have to give up the place. We immediately informed Bassett House School about the new circumstances and that they are free to give our place to a child on the long waiting list or we do help to find someone who takes our place. No answer! After several emails we`ve got the following mail: you have, as you will know, no right to a refund of the monies already paid; but we shall try to fill the place which you are now giving up and if both Lower 1 classes are at full capacity at the start of the autumn term, as a gesture of goodwill, we shall refund to you the monies you have paid. Looks like this is a standard email, meaning they will pay only both Lower 1 classes are at full capacity.
We got immediately back to the schools’ bursar that we should be refunded regardless of whether or not the places are filled. And asking to what extent they are full for September 2015 - how many places they have yet to fill? Plainly if they have already filled the places there is no need to delay in returning the money.
No answer at all! If someone is looking for a place at Bassett House School please contact me they seem to have a lot of places available:-)) Academically I can only say that their last years exit results are ok but no one made it into the Top schools like St.Pauls, City of London, Westminster School. We did not even get the chance to talk to the new headmistress Mrs. Cawthorne. Hope our experience did help you with your choice. Good luck!

Did someone had a similar experience or can give me some advice? I really feel ripped off as they can`t unjustly enriche themselves these are fees for educational work – is it marketing or does the school screw you up? Calling up the school they are heavily over subscribed and no change for a place....

SonorousBip Thu 07-May-15 13:17:20

For virtually every private school I am aware of you have to give a (clear) term's notice if you want to leave/do not want to take the place. If you did not give the standard notice, you will be charged the fees for the term. That will apply whether you had already started, or not. What exactly did you sign when you accepted the place - did it not have clear provisions about this?

From their perspective, they had banked on you attending and had told other people they did not have a place (because you had filled it). They then have to replace your DC with someone else.

My guess is that their lists will be quite fluid all the way up to early September: a space may become free in another school and someone will move; people move away, etc. They will turn to their waiting lists, but of course not everyone is sitting "waiting", quite a few people may have made their peace with whatever the alternative was. So most likely they may not know exactly how many places are filled right up until September.

You would be better off coming onto Mumsnet and saying what a fabulous school it is, so that people want to go there and think "oh, if only there was the chance of a last minute space." smile

I know it is annoying and expensive. But I would be very surprised if you have not signed up to it - it is absolutely standard.

threegoingonthirty Thu 07-May-15 13:21:01

Standard is a full term's notice so it hinges on when in March you told them - was it end of spring term, in the holidays or start of summer term - and how do they define "a full term's notice". For some schools it's the last day of the term before, others will accept on the first day of that term. You need to check the terms and conditions.

6031769 Thu 07-May-15 13:24:47

Sounds standard to me not sure what your problem is with it as it would have been in the conditions u signed up to

6031769 Thu 07-May-15 13:27:59

Wonders if op has made a threat to the school "refund or I'll post on Internet" but has made themselves look worse than the school

Charlotte41 Thu 07-May-15 13:43:14

Thank you so much for your answers! Yes we gave the school a full term's notice before the holidays! So they have enough time to fill the place.

It is only even more frustrating that the school is ignoring our emails and simple questions like "to what extent they are full for September 2015" or "how many places they have yet to fill" or "if they have already filled the place"?

What would really help me is if anybody knows someone

1. Who is looking for a place at Bassett House School, Lower 1 September 2015
2. Who is already on the waiting list for Lower 1 September 2015?
3. Or who is joining the school for Lower 1 this Sept and got the class list

We were happy to join the school, otherwise we wouldn`t have accepted☺ and I am sure it is a great school but we let very disappointed in the behavior of the school not giving us any support neither answering our questions just ignoring us, and yes £ 5000 is a lot of money not given any educational work, so at least if not our son get`s it one child has to get it!

6031769 Thu 07-May-15 13:54:50

But they have not said they are not paying it back yet, they have said they will pay it back at start of autumn term if both classes are full so shouldn't u wait till then and then start arguing at that point if it's not been refunded. Also terms notice is standard but it could have been more in whatever u signed sometimes deposits are non refundable

PatriciaHolm Thu 07-May-15 13:56:26

There is no way they will give you your money back until the first day of the autumn term, I expect; the email makes it clear that the relevant time will be "if both Lower 1 classes are at full capacity at the start of the autumn term."

They cannot say with certainty that this will be the case until all the kids turn up on the first day of term. I think you'll be waiting until October for your money I'm afraid.

Charlotte41 Thu 07-May-15 14:15:20

Thank you very much Patricia! Really helps to talk!

Fact is that we gave one term`s notice and we should be refunded regardless of whether or not the places are filled.

Anyway if they run full capacity (calling up the school there are no places available) all pupils had to pay their fees! But the school is not answering us these simple questions like:
“To what extend they are full for September 2015” “how many places they have yet to fill” “if they have already filled the place”

Does someone had a similar experience?

threegoingonthirty Thu 07-May-15 14:15:53

You would have signed something when you accepted the place, usually a long list of terms and conditions.

Does it say "we will refund you if you give a full term's notice" - in which case stop ringing but tell them that if you don't get it within a week you'll take them to the small claims court

or does it say "we will refund you if you give a full term's notice and all the classes are full" in which case you'll just have to wait

PatriciaHolm Thu 07-May-15 14:19:44

What do the T&Cs say about refunds?

It's possible that payment for the first term of Reception for new children is non-refundable whenever you choose to cancel; does the contract specify a full term? If it does and you met the requirements completely, then yes you should get your money back now.

However, if you didn't meet them, or the payment was always non-refundable, then you will need to wait until term starts.

Either way, the answers to “To what extend they are full for September 2015” “how many places they have yet to fill” “if they have already filled the place”, are irrelevant now; they will only refund if the place is full at the start of Autumn term, it doesn't matter what the situation is now.

Charlotte41 Thu 07-May-15 14:40:41

I see your point. Let`s say both classes run full capacity by today (which is most likely as by calling up the school they refer you to pay registration fee then they put you on the waiting list) – means everybody had to make their payment – in this case they have an overpayment of £ 5000. - (Which are term fees no deposit) - There is no reason to delay in returning the money.

threegoingonthirty Thu 07-May-15 14:47:33


They are a business
They aren't your friends
If the contract made no mention of this provision then sue them
If it does, you'll have to suck it up

SunnyBaudelaire Thu 07-May-15 14:51:23

I am sure it was in the small print wasn't it?
Did you not read the Terms and Conditions?
Everyone must know now how important it is to read the Ts and Cs!

AnotherNewt Thu 07-May-15 14:51:35

What exactly was in the contract about returning deposits/fees if the place isn't taken up? There are sometimes explicit clauses about this, separate from the usual ones about a term's notice for those at the school.

It's standard practice. Filling places during the applications round is usually straightforward, but those they turn down will have gone elsewhere by now and so re-filling a place isn't a sure thing. Your acceptance means one less offer from the waiting list whilst still fluid. Saying they will refund if place re-filled is actually more generous than some schools, who simply do not refund.

It's structured like that to deter last minute changes, though it's a bugger for those who have no option but to alter their plans.

PatriciaHolm Thu 07-May-15 14:53:21

Well yes, but again, that's not the point.

If the T&Cs are that the money is not refundable at all, then they are being helpful by saying you can have it back if the classes are full. They could give it back today if classes are already full and all deposits paid, but it's not in their interests to do so, so it's unlikely.

Primafacie Sun 10-May-15 00:14:57

The contractual provisions may be void or unenforceable if they breach the Unfair Contract Terms Act. There are strict provisions around the validity of liquidated damages/penalties. Anyone giving the advice/asking the question 'what does the contract say/you signed the contract therefore you have no right to complain ', I'm sorry but you are wrong and the OP may have a course of action against the school.

OP you should think about getting legal advice from a specialist lawyer, alternatively you can make a claim against the school online with the small claims system.

Charlotte41 Sun 10-May-15 06:50:43

thank you very, very much indeed for your post! I will definitely consider legal action against the school. If you see Bassett House schools T & C online they don`s say anything about non refundable terms fee and are very vague.

Just to make clear to everyone. I am not even talking about the £1000.- deposit we had to pay on top. We are talking only about the school terms fees of around £ 5000.- payable by every parent 16 months in advance before the school even starts.

Until today I never asked the school to return the £ 1000.- deposit we`ve paid I am only asking them to return the fees paid of around £ 5000.-. and the schools bursar refuses to answer if the filled our son`s place and to what extend they are full for September 2015!

AnotherNewt Sun 10-May-15 09:19:59

I think that the offer to refund if full in September would not be struck down as an unfair clause. Yes, it transfers risk to the families once they sign up, but not in a punitive way (if a place is unfilled, the school could lose an ongoing number of terms fees, but parent's lost fees are limited to just one term irrespective) and of course there is a difference between arranging your main entry and looking for ad hoc entrants.

If they are prepared to refund in full, then their terms are significantly more generous to the parent than many. And unless they are departing from the T&Cs you signed up to, your only recourse will be the courts. This sort of case is often quite drawn out, so it may take longer to see your money back (assuming it's not eaten up in costs).

Getdownfromtherethisinstant Sun 10-May-15 10:14:06

I downloaded the T&Cs - they are available on the school website. It actually doesn't mention anything at all about refunding fees or what happens if a child withdraws prior to starting. It simply states that the parents must pay half the fees on registration and the other half seven months before the child starts. I've no experience of private schools myself and I don't know what's 'typical', but if those are the T&Cs the OP signed up on I can see her point since it doesn't appear to state anywhere that fees are non refundable.

Of course I may have misunderstood and/or there could be more comprehensive T&Cs given to parents who actually sign up.

MMmomKK Mon 11-May-15 14:26:32

Have you checked what is actually written the T&C that came with the packet of documents you must have signed when you paid the first term fees?

Standard practice around this area is one term notice. Which you should satisfy if you let them know before the start of the summer term.
If they have some other duration, than maybe you would have a claim. But it would cost you to fight for it. Lawyers are not cheap.

I have never heard of people getting their deposits back in similar situation. If you are paying a lawyer, you may try for it too, but don't hold your breath.

FWIW, it seems that the school is cooperating with you. And, in all likelihood, it will be at capacity by the fall. In your place, I'd get my ducks in order now - i.e. get all the facts - but would wait until the fall to act. It would most likely resolve w/o needing to fight.

Needmoresleep Mon 11-May-15 21:01:01

Is there any chance you might return to London whilst your DC are school age. If so I would try to avoid any form of legal fight. School places for older children are so hard to come by and there is a danger something might crop up on a Google search.

Instead I would write a clear letter noting their offer and confirming the date you gave notice. If you can't find suitable language in the T&C I would say something along the lines that you understand that is normal practice for schools to return fees if a terms notice is given and since you have not agreed to other arrangements, you expect BH to respect standard practice. Make it sound like you are keeping the door open to future legal action without actually threatening.

I don't know if schools behave in the same way but big name London estate agents can behave very badly when it comes to returning deposits to tenants moving abroad. My guess is they bank on the money being provided by the employer and no one chasing.

Needmoresleep Mon 11-May-15 21:18:44

Out of curiosity I loved at the BH website. The school is co-ed, relatively small, non selective, and only goes up to 11+. Given Westminster and St Paul's start at 13+ and City is quite a trek from North Kensington, I would not be surprised if these schools did not feature amongst the leaver destinations in any given year. They are boys schools so only 50% of the cohort are eligible and it is likely that boys within this non selective cohort who are strong academically, will probably either transfer to WUS, CC or another 13+ prep at 7+.

There tends to be an assumption that a school can only be any good if it sends large numbers to "top schools". This is silly. The mark of a good school should be that it sends the right children to the right secondaries.

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