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Is this email legally binding?

(70 Posts)
Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 17:25:41

My DS won a bursary from his school that gave him a few hundred pounder per term towards stationary, trips and study guides. I sought clarification of how much exactly he could claim from the bursary towards an expensive trip he is going on next year. I received an email from the finance department stating £300 per term(3 terms). I acknowledged the email and we planned our finances accordingly. When my son tried to claim the amount by filling out a form at school, he was told they had changed the rules and he could now only have a total of £300 towards the trip, not £900.
I have contacted the school, sending a copy of the email from them confirming it would be £300 per term. They have apologised but said the decision stands. am I right in thinking they can't do that?

OP’s posts: |
Alwa Thu 20-Sep-18 19:43:31

I think there will be terms and conditions attached to say it's at their discretion.

How bloody annoying.

PanamaPattie Thu 20-Sep-18 19:51:30

If your DS won the bursary and it was not just given to him, then surely it's a contract and the school is liable for the full amount. Post this in Legal.

Ontopofthesunset Thu 20-Sep-18 20:38:13

Is it because you can't claim for one trip over 3 terms ie the trip is one item and you can only claim for one item once so the maximum he can get off any one thing is £300?

goodbyestranger Thu 20-Sep-18 22:02:54

I would expect you don't have a leg to stand on.

goodbyestranger Thu 20-Sep-18 22:05:04

It sounds as though there's no carry forward. That strikes me as very standard.

Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:09:46

I have posted in 'legal' but no response so posted here too.
He was 'awarded' the bursary if he chose to study A Levels at his school after high achievement at GCSEs there.
The termly bursary is £400 but only £300 can be used towards a trip , leaving £100 for other items such as stationary and text books. This was confirmed to my DS verbally and then to me in email. The school has changed the rules now so that only a one-off payment of £300 can be made towards a trip.
I had confirmation before the rule change and have planned my expenditure taking that into account.It's why I asked them in the first place. it's his 18th birthday next month so an expensive time.

OP’s posts: |
Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:12:39

There is no carry forward either. He has barely used 20% over the last year. I don't understand why they would withhold it when the funds have been allocated/reserved for him and can only be claimed once.

OP’s posts: |
Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:15:53

There is only so much you can spend on stationery and text books!

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goodbyestranger Thu 20-Sep-18 22:16:10

My DC had small 18th birthday gifts as that was what I could afford at the time. 18th's don't need to be expensive and no school bursary is intended to, in effect, subsidise extravagant birthdays. I doubt this expensive trip is critical to the curriculum either, because optional trips, especially expensive ones, don't tend to be. Bursaries are intended to cover essentials.

goodbyestranger Thu 20-Sep-18 22:18:20

The funds aren't 'reserved for him'. They're there if he claims them, up to the maximum, but if he doesn't then the residue goes back into the bursary pot for another student to use for the purposes defined by the bursary policy in place at the time.

Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:21:08

My point is that the school confirmed to me one thing, I made plans based on that and now they are not honouring their word.
They told me the trip was covered, now it's not. None of that is my fault and I should not be out of pocket because they have later decided to change their rules. Any amendments should apply to future bursaries. In my opinion that seems fair.

OP’s posts: |
goodbyestranger Thu 20-Sep-18 22:31:26

Why didn't you claim for the trip at the time? It sounds as though you knew about it and could have done but didn't and now the rules have changed.

The trip isn't compulsory so if you can't afford it, your DS doesn't go.

I don't really understand 'out of pocket'.

7salmonswimming Thu 20-Sep-18 22:35:34

I don’t get why you’re confused. They said £300/term, and they’re sticking to that. The trip will be taken during the course of one term, won’t it? I don’t even see why they’re saying they’ve changed the rules, they’re doing exactly what they said they would do in the email confused

Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:37:15

You are only able to claim one term at a time. Last year my DS spoke to the Finance Dept about the possibility of using some of his bursary for the trip. He was told yes, £300 per term but that he would have to claim it at the start of each term. He applied for the trip and got a place.
Last month I received a reminder to pay the latest instalment and contacted the department about the agreement. I was told yes, they wouldn't chase it but DS had to fill in the form on his return to school for the latest contribution. I asked for clarification of several points such as how much could be spent on specific things and received an email back telling me, and I quote, 'he will get £900 this school year towards the trip.'
Now this week he has been told, sorry, rules have changed. This now means that I will be out of pocket by £600.

OP’s posts: |
7salmonswimming Thu 20-Sep-18 22:37:40

Oh sorry, I’m being an idiot. They’re saying he can’t have £900 even if it’s spread out over three terms, he can only claim the £300 for the term the trip happens. Is that right?

Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:39:07

NOOOOOO I'm not daft. They said £300 per term.Autumn, spring and summer can be claimed towards the trip next summer. It's paid in instalments. They have said themselves that they have changed the rules.

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7salmonswimming Thu 20-Sep-18 22:39:11

Have you spoken to the accounts people about this and the problem it creates for you? If they’ve just said “we’ve changed our rules”, can you speak to the head of the department that’s running this trip?

Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:40:17

Nothing to do with the month the trip happens. Just one lot of £300 towards any trip.

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Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:42:03

Yes it's the Finance department I am dealing with. I have said today that I'm not happy, asked them to check their records, sent a copy of the email that they sent me in August confirming £900 and said I will speak to Head if they are unable to resolve it.

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7salmonswimming Thu 20-Sep-18 22:43:18

Yes is do that. Get as far as you can get with the finance dept, then go to the Head. Definitely emails only, no phone calls. I think for £600 they will see you good.

Everyoneiswinginit Thu 20-Sep-18 22:48:08

I will. The bursary wouldn't have covered all of the trip anyway but a hefty chunk that made all the difference to him being able to go. I suppose I could withhold the rest of the balance until they honour their word.

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t00dle00 Thu 20-Sep-18 22:59:14

@Everyoneiswinginit I wouldn't do that, you might find he will lose his place.

goodbyestranger Thu 20-Sep-18 22:59:26

Why should a hugely expensive (ie in excess of £900) post A level trip be covered by a bursary? I'm struggling to see how that would be appropriate use of funds, since it's clearly a jolly not a curriculum thing. I can't see any merit whatsoever. Perhaps someone in Finance made a boo boo and gave you the wrong info to start with.

CalamityJane10 Thu 20-Sep-18 23:02:30

Have now committed your DS to the trip? Did you only do so on the basis of the school’s funding representation (or was he going anyway)? Did you ask the school the amount of bursary due in the context of this particular trip (I.e. they knew the trip was next year?)

If the answers to the above are yes, I would have thought it is arguable that the school is estopped from going back on its funding representation. I would definitely take this up with the Head.

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