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Refusal to pay school fees for a child that's left

(47 Posts)
JaneyPal Sun 04-Sep-11 06:36:16

Hi to all,

Any experience or lawyers out there please!?

Long story, but we have taken a child out of a prep school - great school until the final few years where they 'fail' to prepare children at all for the various entrance exams. Too late for DS1 who will stay but we moved DS2 with half a term's notice to avoid a similar experience in a couple of years' time.

As we removed him with half a term's notice (at the half term in the summer term), the school are threatening legal action for fees for this term!

Any experience of this and whether legal action can be pursued? Wording of the contract we signed seems very loose. For example, we are meant to give a 'full term's notice' - why can this not be from half term to half term? This would mean, at worst, we would owe half a term's fee....

But, essentially, we believe there is a 'contract' when we signed up to pay fees give notice etc. - we pay you money and you educate our children to the best of their abilities They have clearly failed in the latter hence our refusal to pay.

Any advice please?

JP

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 04-Sep-11 06:48:56

You need to pay. Sorry

seeker Sun 04-Sep-11 06:49:14

Did you discuss with the Head when you discussed your ds's leaving?

LIZS Sun 04-Sep-11 07:14:28

It usually says a full term with notice having been received by the first day, so yes you are liable for this term and they can (and should) pursue it legally. If you want to offer half a term the bursar may consider it but if you don't pay up it could affect ds1 place.

eatyourveg Sun 04-Sep-11 07:21:35

A full term is a full term not a half term. I don't think you have a choice as thats the contract you signed.

fivegomadindorset Sun 04-Sep-11 07:41:10

You need to pay up.

Lulumama Sun 04-Sep-11 07:49:37

the wording is not loose, you are required to give a full terms notice, which you have not done. you have to prove they have failed in fulfilling their terms of the contract to not be liable for the fees. & the fact you are leaving one child there may well go against you proving that, so I don't think you have a leg to stand on really, you are going to have to pay up

how have they clearly failed to fulfil their terms of the contract?

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Sun 04-Sep-11 08:04:57

'great school until the final few years where they 'fail' to prepare children at all for the various entrance exams.'

Why has there not been a mass exodus of other students and unhappy parents?

Ladymuck Sun 04-Sep-11 08:37:17

To answer Goblin's question re mass exodus, there quite often aren't the spaces elsewhere. I had a very similar issue with a prep school. I got a place at another school for my younger son within a term or two, but it took 2 years to get a place for my older son. Other parents are still on waiting list elsewhere, so it seems to be very difficult to find a mass exodus. Given the wait, and that many parents don't realise the problems until say Year 4, then it isn't surprising that many parents wait it out and tutor on the side.

OP, sorry but the school will have a fiduciary duty to pursue you for the unpaid fees.

Kez100 Sun 04-Sep-11 08:41:43

Imdont understand your argument that you son wasn't being adequately educated. You say it's a great school until the final years. So, in his year, it was a great school.

I doubt the argument about latter years would stand unless a lot more parents are in agreement with you, but surely not when it wasn't a ln issue anyway with your sons year. You just made a very quick decision based on 'what might happen'.

ellisbell Sun 04-Sep-11 09:36:25

have they filled your son's place? If they have you could argue they have suffered no financial loss, half a term's fees is adequate and the contract was unfair. If they have not filled your child's place then you should pay up.

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Sun 04-Sep-11 09:47:10

If you don't pay up, can they tell you to remove your other child?

Yellowstone Sun 04-Sep-11 09:56:18

You have a legal obligation to pay. On the basis of what you say, it would be exceptionally hard to avoid payment of the whole term's fees.

opusthepenguin Sun 04-Sep-11 13:28:53

Your dissatsfaction clearly did not develop overnight. If you discussed this with the school and had agreed some kind of "action plan" or given some kind of "notice to improve" (preferrably in writing) and could show they had not done what was asked for or agreed to, then you would have a good case for not paying.

I suspect you did not not even discuss your dissatisfaction - in which case you need to pay; I am sure the school will soon ask you to remove your other DC as well.

Cammelia Sun 04-Sep-11 13:45:29

If the problem was in 2 years time for ds2 why didn't you give a full terms notice ?

Kensingtonia Sun 04-Sep-11 13:50:08

If your other child is still at the school, in my opinion, you have no option but to cough up otherwise he will be kicked out or it will damage your relationship with the school so badly you will have no option but to leave.

Personally I have been in a situation where I had to remove my kids from a primary school without giving a term's notice. I refused to pay the fees. The school's behaviour was so bizarre that I thought they would not dare take me to court and I had collected written evidence over a long period of time and kept notes of phone calls etc. I was right but had to deal with a rather aggressive debt chasing company for a few months before they finally dropped it.

sieglinde Sun 04-Sep-11 16:46:54

Most school bursars will let you pay in installments if you actually can't manage the whole sum. One told me that more than 30% of fees were paid in arrears. If you keep it friendly...

but it doesn't sound as if that's your goal. A man is suing a school somewhere in the North because his son missed an A at A-level - it would make a test case, I suppose, but it might be quite hard to prove dereliction.

TheOriginalFAB Sun 04-Sep-11 16:51:19

Schools quite often don't prepare children for entrance exams. Ours doesn't so we have helped him.

You need to pay.

EdithWeston Sun 04-Sep-11 16:51:44

A full term's notice means exactly that - a full term (not half plus half: I agree it could be that but in your case it isn't).

I would expect the school to sue - you are breaking the contract.

You could counter-sue - but on the information you have given so far, your case will be weak to non-existent. Do you really have the stomach for this? And can you afford costs when you lose?

TheOriginalFAB Sun 04-Sep-11 16:52:14

How has the school not educated your child to the best of their abilities?

LynetteScavo Sun 04-Sep-11 16:56:53

Hmmm...I bet a solicitor would cost you almost exactly the same as a terms fees.

"A full terms notice" is not loose wording. To not pay for the Autumn (Michaelmas term) you needed to give notice before the start of the summer term, not at half term.

It's a bugger, but you signed the agreement.

LynetteScavo Sun 04-Sep-11 17:00:01

TheOriginalFAB, I'm presuming from the OP that the DS1 didn't get into senior schools, due to the school "failing" to prepare the children for the various entrance exams.

But the DS1 is staying at the school....is this because he wasn't offered places at 11+ and is now staying at the school for Y's 7 &?

TheOriginalFAB Sun 04-Sep-11 17:41:22

Educating to the best of their abilities is not the same as educating them to pass an exam imo.

belledechocchipcookie Sun 04-Sep-11 18:10:57

You have to pay them, you didn't give them enough notice. Not all children are able to pass the 11+ and it doesn't necessarily mean that they have not been prepared properly.

Northernlurkerr Sun 04-Sep-11 18:12:06

I'm quite keen for the op to come back and explain:

a) how 1/2 a term's fees = a full terms notice

and

b) hoe the school can be deemed to be failing to provide and education when you leave your older child there......

hmm

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