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Independent school deposit, advise need ASAP!

(35 Posts)
doubletiger Fri 23-Aug-19 19:17:00


I need advice on the independent school deposit and fee please.

My DD was offered a place at an independent school, for study A levels from Sept 2019, the offer was on a conditional that DD need to get 7 (equivalent A on the old grading system) on her 5 best GCSE subjects. The offer was in December 2018 and I paid £1000 deposit to secure the place. On GCSE result day (yesterday), we found out my DD did not get 5 subjects of 7, DD only got 3 subjects of 7. We emailed the school; the school came back said they would still offer my DD the place. But we feel the school is no longer suitable for my daughter, as we feel DD academic does not meet the school minimum requirement, and DD will be struggling at this independent school if she is studying in this school. We prefer to send DD to local state school now.

I am now worrying about the deposit and fee. I have not contacted the school yet. my two questions are:

(1) Prior we paid the place deposit, the school told me " if your daughter did not meet her GCSE requirements and we ended up retracing our offer of a place, we would reimburse the £1000 place deposit to you.". but in this case, my DD did not meet GCSE requirements, but the school still offer the place, do I have any right to get this £1000 place deposit back?

(2) I heard someone was forced to pay a whole term fee if the place offer did not take up. Does it apply to our case?

please advise ASAP!

thank you

OP’s posts: |
SouthChinaSea234 Fri 23-Aug-19 21:21:36

It is almost impossible to wriggle out of these contracts. You will not get your deposit back and you will probably have to pay the first term‘s fees as well. Sorry.

From the school’s perspective, they offered your DC a place based on assessments and exam predictions. They have stood by their offer despite your DD not getting the expected grades. They are unlikely to fill the place at this stage so are looking at losing two years of fees if she does not attend.

Schoolmumm Fri 23-Aug-19 23:44:29

Agree with SouthChina here. Any school contract we have ever signed, required at least a terms notice. Presumably you have signed some form of agreement on paying your deposit. I would check it thoroughly, but it seems unlikely you would not be liable to pay at this late stage. Good luck.

doubletiger Sat 24-Aug-19 09:21:15

Thanks for advice!

Just found the school policy:

"Should a parent withdraw from an accepted place, for whatever reason, prior to their child enrolling at the school, the £1,000 place deposit will be retained by the school and is not refundable under any circumstances.

Parents of all girls currently enrolled at xxx School are required to give a full term’s written notice in advance to the Headmaster, of their intention to withdraw their daughter from the school. If a full term’s written notice in advance is not given, Fees in Lieu of Notice will be payable in full for the following term."

the keyword is "enrolled". My understand is if already enrolled, need to give 1 full term notice. If do not take a place, it is prior to enrolling at the school, only liable for £1000 place deposit, not a full term fee. Can someone please confirm if my understand is correct?

thank you.

OP’s posts: |
ourkidmolly Sat 24-Aug-19 09:34:26

I think you're liable for both. Private schools are notoriously hardline about this type of thing.
If you can afford it, why don't you send her though? Feels like you're writing her a bit?

sleepwhenidie Sat 24-Aug-19 09:42:44

I would agree with your interpretation of the contract wrt ‘enrolled’ OP - you have no basis on which to get the deposit back, whether you are liable for first term’s fees depends on definition of enrolled (which should be there in the contract somewhere.

The only exception may be a clause that says they will refund if they fill the place. I know of at least 2 highly oversubscribed schools (London) have honoured this with friends who (for various reasons, mostly timing of offers) accepted places, paid deposit and first term fees and then withdrew for different schools. Those schools had long waiting lists though and if DD still had a place even without required grades this may be unlikely.

Try and think positive, it hurts to lose the money but think how much you won’t spend over the next 2 years! If you are absolutely sure the state option is the better one for DD then be happy about that.

MirrorHope Sat 24-Aug-19 09:50:35

Not to de-rail your thread but what's changed?? Why wouldn't it still be the best option for her? Your DD won't be the only one with her grades and she could gain a lot from those last two years.

Schoolmumm Sat 24-Aug-19 10:10:45

Yes you may find that she gets better support to attain good grades at A level, so don’t necessarily write it off just because gcse grades were not what was expected.
The school would not have offered the place if they felt it was not suitable for her. It’s worth thinking about at least.

ittakes2 Sat 24-Aug-19 10:14:22

Honestly, I have a completely different view to you. If your daughter did not get the grades than I think she might be better off at a private school - the smaller class sizes and the fact the teachers have more time for her. A private school is very interested in their grade achievements as that is what they use to promote to other parents to come on board. Not so much at the local comprehensive.

Aussiejazz Sat 24-Aug-19 13:04:13

You have signed a contract which, almost certainly, means you will have to pay a term's fees in lieu of the notice required. I don't really see why you should expect to be released from this contract. It sounds to me as if the school is sticking to its side of the bargain and you are seeking not to.

AllFourOfThem Sat 24-Aug-19 13:09:59

If the school is in the UK then I am certain you will forfeit the deposit and need to give a term’s notice.

Presumably until results day you still thought this school was best for your daughter. Perhaps sending her will give her the opportunity to reach her academic best and get good A level results which will mean her poorer GCS results won’t hinder her future.

HugoSpritz Sat 24-Aug-19 13:32:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

peteneras Sat 24-Aug-19 18:41:34

OP, imho you don't have to worry about paying the whole term's fee and what's more, you've a good case of getting even your deposit back if you're willing to fight for it. That's simply because there's no contract here or anywhere because you haven't signed any as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, I get it that the school has now offered you a place even though your DD didn't get the required number of suitable grades but you haven't yet accepted the offer, have you? A contract is only good if you accept the offer. About the deposit, unless the school policy clearly states that deposits are non refundable under any circumstances then you've a good case to ask for it back as per your own logic i.e. they require so many suitable grades and your DD didn't meet their requirements. End of story.

But you may be required to pay some admin fee though and even that is arguable - assuming you have the energy. grin

I advised a friend recently who paid a large deposit for a place at a boarding school starting Sept 2018-19. Around Easter 2018 friend changed their mind because their child preferred another boarding school where his friends were going. Friend gave notice and wanted to withdraw from first school; agreed to forfeit the deposit and willing to pay up to £5K as a 'penalty' but the school was adamant in getting their one term fee in lieu (>£11K). This is almost 5 months notice to a school they never started!

I then looked at all the documents and communication with the school including the school's T&C and concluded there was NO contract between friend and school and advised friend accordingly. From this point onwards, friend never heard back from the school again.

doubletiger Sun 25-Aug-19 19:18:49

Thank you all for your inputs, all very much appreciated.

Thanks sleepwhenidie, HugoSpritz and peteneras' comments on the legal side of the matter. peteneras comment is spot on. Thank you all!

We are currently rethinking our plan. On the GCSE results day, we were thinking to send DD to the local state school (which is actually a grammar school not comprehensive) and now we are thinking maybe we should stick to our original plan and send our DD to the private school.

In reply to HugoSpritz, she got her GCSE 8 in Maths, 7 in English literature and 7 in English language. She is going to study Maths, Further Maths, English literature and Economics at sixth form, so the 1 of 8, 2 of 7 at GCSE are very much related to her A LEVEL options.

thank you very much

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Mon 26-Aug-19 00:48:07

That's simply because there's no contract here or anywhere because you haven't signed any as far as I'm concerned

The OP does not have to sign anything for there to be a contract. And it is, of course, possible that the OP has signed something accepting the school's terms and conditions.

doubletiger - Without seeing all the documentation it is impossible to say for certain. However, based on what you have posted I don't think you are liable for a full term's fees. I think you may lose your deposit but I'm not certain of that.

Ligresa Mon 26-Aug-19 07:25:28

Drop the further maths and send her.

Ligresa Mon 26-Aug-19 07:27:22

You would be liable for the deposit and a term's fees. As a private school parent myself I am afraid to say I hope the school chases you for the money as you've basically just changed your mind!

FamilyOfAliens Mon 26-Aug-19 07:35:08

As a private school parent myself I am afraid to say I hope the school chases you for the money as you've basically just changed your mind!

Why would it affect you whether the OP has to pay?

Ligresa Mon 26-Aug-19 07:44:57

Because it is an unnecessary drain on the school's finances and the majority of parents stick to the rules!

Firefliess Mon 26-Aug-19 07:50:02

She should not do further maths without a 9 in maths, wherever she goes. It's a huge step up and many struggle even if they cruised though GCSE.

But otherwise I'd have thought she'd be fine on those subjects with those grades at any school. It's very common for independents to say they have a minimum grade requirement and then flex it, so she's unlikely to be the weakest student, but agree with the previous poster that if she's easily intimidated it might not be the best school for her, especially if she's moving from the state system where modesty tends to be valued more than confidence.

Can she definitely get in to the local state school?

Ligresa Mon 26-Aug-19 07:55:36

Yes definitely drop further maths!

FrogsAndSheep Mon 26-Aug-19 08:02:50

Why drop further maths? She got an 8 which is amazing and I’ve even taught FM a-level to students who got an A at GCSE and have been fine.
It’s a great a-level (I did it myself and taught it for many years!) grin
Well done on her results and think attending the independent school is a good idea.

stucknoue Mon 26-Aug-19 08:08:09

If you can afford it, pay for private. It makes a huge difference at a level

Witchend Mon 26-Aug-19 10:52:34

She should not do further maths without a 9 in maths, wherever she goes.

Dd1's just done her A-levels. She has two friends, one got a mid level 8 GCSE and has just got an A* single maths and B further maths. Another got a good 9 at GCSE and has just got a C in single maths and dropped further.

However, I would wonder whether your dd will be taking on too much to do 4 A-levels. Especially when one is English which will have no overlap with the others; I'd be less concerned about her doing maths, further maths, physics and economics as there will be some overlap.

I'd suggest dropping the English. However, I suspect the school will be reluctant to let her start with only 3, one being further maths from her position though.

AllFourOfThem Mon 26-Aug-19 13:05:40

She should not do further maths without a 9 in maths, wherever she goes. It's a huge step up and many struggle even if they cruised though GCSE.

Admittedly it was many years since I sat my A levels but there was a massive difference between GCSE and A level maths. However, GCSE and A level English was much more of a natural step up.

I still think sending her to the private school would be best for her academically to achieve her best but it’s perfectly acceptable for her to rethink and change the subjects she wants to take. She can probably even change in a month or so down the line. In the worst case scenario, she could do the first couple of terms at the private school, decide it is not for her, hand in her notice to leave and then start again at the local school or elsewhere.

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