Private School notice period

(27 Posts)
wyparent Fri 15-Jun-18 14:37:09


I would very much appreciate some advice.

We are presently considering moving our child back to a state school because they may have a better special needs provision than the private school he is attending.

We gave provisional notice mid summer term.

The response from the school is we will have to pay for the Autumn term in full.

Frustratingly they have responded to the fees aspect before actually replying to the special needs report that set out recommendations in order to assist our sons Dyslexia. We have yet to receive any response to that report.

The school say , in accordance with the terms and conditions we were given at the commencement our notice will not be effective until the end of the summer term and autumn term will be due in full.

We do not recall been given any terms and conditions and we do not have a signed version. We have asked the school to provide us with a copy of our signatures to the terms they are referring to.

Our decision is not yet made, we are only considering our options which makes it even more frustrating we have no response to the special need recommendations.

Where do we stand if we have not signed the terms and conditions ?

OP’s posts: |
DPotter Fri 15-Jun-18 14:42:47

Not sure where you stand if nothing was signed, however the terms and conditions sounds pretty standard to me - a full term's notice and no such thing as provisional - you're in or you want out.
You may find you signed something when you first approached the school to apply for admission, like an application form and it may have said something like 'we agree to the terms and conditions (available on request).

As for the school responding to the fees aspect prior to the report - it's a different department - Burser's as opposed to SEN or the Head.

I think you'll have to pay.

LIZS Fri 15-Jun-18 14:46:37

A full terms' notice, given before the start of a term is standard. So even your provisional notice would not come into effect until September. You may have agreed to this when you paid a deposit or registration fee.

BookWitch Fri 15-Jun-18 15:42:47

I'm a governor at a private school and I hear appeals for deposit return.

It sounds a bit harsh. We hold a term's fees as a deposit, which is returned to the parent at the end of their last term provided they have given a full term's notice. If they do not inform us they are leaving by the first day of their last term, their deposit is forfeit. The amount of appeals allowed is very low. Forgetting, or hedging bets with another school, is not a ground for appeal.

At our school, if you gave notice today, that you were not returning in Sept, your deposit would be forfeit. But you would not be sent a bill for the Autumn term. Amounts to the same thing I suppose, except we already hold the deposit and your school might be chasing you for it.

Regardless of the harshness, it will be down the the T&C, and most schools are financially critical and will pursue you if they have to.

You must have signed something on admission, I'm sure something on there will have said "'T&C apply" or something, it would have been down to you to check that.

Sorry, I think you will have to pay it unfortunately

HariboIsMyCrack Fri 15-Jun-18 15:44:37

Standard here too (and was explained with examples at interview with head). Do push them on the signature but I think you will likely be paying.

Karigan198 Fri 15-Jun-18 15:46:18

It’s pretty standard that if you leave a private school you pay a terms fees. You have to give a terms notice.

BookWitch Fri 15-Jun-18 15:47:51

Regarding the SEN recommendations, is this something you have pursued privately, or on recommendation of the school?

I can only say would would happen if it arrived as an appeal at our council, but IF there was a SEN recommendation from an external, independent expert that recommends the provision would be better served in another school (ie our school cannot provide it) it COULD be considered as it is in the best interests of the child.


Nnamechangedforthis Fri 15-Jun-18 16:03:19

A parent took their child out of our school without a term’s notice (as we did but we left the term before, for the same reasons, and forfeited the deposit) and appealed for their money back. School turned them down. They vowed to do £700 worth of damage to the reputation of the school and quite honestly they’ve done it. Gossip is all over the town, there was a letter on the webpage of the local paper, social network sites have been used to publicise the shortcomings...

Think the school was a bit silly seeing as they were actually at fault.

sirfredfredgeorge Fri 15-Jun-18 16:12:26

It may be "standard", but these forfeits and notice periods have to be actually proportional to the loss incurred by the school - so if they fill the place from a waiting list, then it's clear a full terms fees is not the loss incurred.

If you genuinely were not made aware of the terms and didn't sign anything, then you also have an out, it's likely that both of those routes will require solicitors getting involved though so it may not be worth the trouble.

Also, start pursuing their failure around the dyslexia diagnosis, every day talk to the teacher, make another appointment with the head, with the SENCO asking when they will be implementing X,Y,Z as per the recommendation etc. etc.

CremeBrulee Fri 15-Jun-18 16:16:30

Standard practice, don't think you have a leg to stand on.

meditrina Fri 15-Jun-18 16:16:54

Many schools do not accept provisional notice.

You seem confident that yours should - but how can you know that if you have not read the T&Cs? You will have agreed to the T&Cs when you signed the contract.

The norm is one full term's notice (not an equivalent number of weeks starting at any point, but one actual term) so even if they do accept provisional notice, it starts with the first full term after notice was given ie the autumn term. Somyes, as things stand, you are contractually bound to pay until Christmas.

meditrina Fri 15-Jun-18 16:18:45

By the way, the full term's notice has been taken through the courts on numerous occasions and schools, and the courts have upheld it as fair and reasonable.

sirfredfredgeorge Fri 15-Jun-18 16:23:01

meditrina citation please, which schools have taken their students to court, I've not been able to find any?

TeacupDrama Fri 15-Jun-18 16:35:06

some schools accept provisional notice depending on situation if you say we are moving 300 miles away in next september october and you told them before easter and arranged with them just to pay autumn term pro rata as you don't know exact date that may be ok

even if your provisional notice had been proper notice I think you would have had to hand it in before the first day of this term ie straight after Easter to avoid next terms fees

"Sirfred" the contract is with the parent so it's the parents that would be taken to court for non payment not the student

BikeRunSki Fri 15-Jun-18 16:35:31

Have you actually got a state school place to move your child to? You might need next term to organise one.

Sunshine5050 Fri 15-Jun-18 16:55:58

Sirfredfredgeorge put small claims court school fees into to a search engine and you will see info re private schools taking parents to court for failure of payment of fees.

wyparent Fri 15-Jun-18 17:04:56

Thank you for your replies.

The provisional notice has been submitted and has been accepted as due notice because that is what the school is responding to.

The opening line reads,
" I acknowledge receipt of your provisional notice "

OP’s posts: |
CremeBrulee Fri 15-Jun-18 17:15:42

See the article giving advice to private school Bursars. If the t's&c's set out one terms Fees in lieu of notice then that's what the court will uphold.


hhks Fri 15-Jun-18 17:16:03

It's standard practice here too. We are moving shool in Sept, and I made sure notice was given before Easter holiday.

meditrina Fri 15-Jun-18 17:22:33

SirFred It's not the students who aren't taken to court, it is those who signed the contract and agreed to pay.


But you're right, straightforward debt recovery cases aren't usually reported on, so you won't readily find many examples. But the one I linked is typical.

Parents do sometimes win, but that is because of the other facts of the case, not because the term's notice is held to be unreasonable.

On a related angle, a case that might interest you - because it changed private schools' practices in 2001 - at Swindon Count between St Francis School, Pewsey brought an and parents Kerry Read and Penny Shearcroft. Their case established that it was wrong of schools to make major and material changes after the deadline for a term's notice had passed. The length of the one-month notice period was fine. It was the making of material changes once the date had passed that led to the school losing. And to schools changing practice so that things like fee increases and major restructuring are announced in time for parents to give notice to quit on the uncontroversial normal notice period

AnotherNewt Fri 15-Jun-18 17:24:40

I wonder if acknowledging receipt is the same as accepting it!

But it was after the start of term, so whether provision or not, the clock for the term's notice starts ticking at the beginning of the next full term after notice received. So in your case that is the Autumn term.

IntoTheDeep Fri 15-Jun-18 17:32:52

Are you sure you didn’t sign anything?
When our DC started in private school nursery, we got sent out a full pack of stuff to sign before DC started, including an acknowledgement that we’d read and agreed to terms & conditions.

Agree with pp’s that a full terms notice, to be given before the start of the final term in the school, is standard.
According to our school’s Ts & Cs, the only way parents at my school wouldn’t be asked to pay a terms fees in lieu of notice would be if the school themselves had asked the parents to remove the child for whatever reason.

jeanne16 Fri 15-Jun-18 18:30:42

Of course schools will chase you for a term’s fees. At the secondary school I work in, it is always surprising that parents think we will just waive the money. One parent suggested we do this as a ‘good will gesture’. Why they think the school would be inclined to do this when they are removing the child is a complete mystery. Schools have very high fixed costs and a small private school will feel the financial loss of any pupils.

swimbikerun123 Fri 15-Jun-18 18:41:03

Yep, a terms notice is standard.
We took DD out at Easter at the same time as when we gave notice, we paid the summer fees and decided losing several thousand was better for her than keeping her in that school for another term.
Yes, it was horrid writing a large cheque but it was in the contract. We did hope they might waive the terms fees having not kept to their side of the contract, but it doesn't work that way.

It will be on the school website and in their brochures about giving a terms notice. It's not worth appealing even if they haven't kept their side of the contract.

BuffyandHen Fri 15-Jun-18 19:51:10

I would think your deposit stated that you acknowledged the terms and conditions. 1 terms notice (proper and not provisional) is standard

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