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AIBU?

To not want to pay DS's 2022-23 school fees?

138 replies

Avery2024 · 11/02/2024 23:58

Loads of backstory here... 

DS and DD both attended what is regarded as an 'elite private school' (not bragging, just giving context). Over the past 3 years, we have struggled with the fees due to my business closing during Covid and being stuck overseas for almost a year due to travel restrictions. However, the school were understanding and allowed us to enter into a payment plan, which we stuck to.

In 2022, DS entered Year 11 and was clear that he was struggling. He has ADHD (which is medicated) and homeschooling had really not worked for him. Added to this, his friend died in the most horrific circumstances, his best friend's dad committed suicide, his diving teacher was exposed as a paedophile and he was involved in two serious car accidents, all within a very short period of time.  

I reached out to the Head of Learning Enhancement, Mrs G, at the beginning of the year as I felt DS needed some extra help and could we please have a short meeting. The school is very well resourced and she is in charge of coordinating any extra help that the students may need. It is a huge school with a strong emphasis on mental health. Her response was that we should speak again 'after the reports come out'. I replied that this was not for some time and that DS needed some help now as this was a very important year. She ignored my request. I emailed Mrs G a few more times but did not hear back. DS was then savagely beaten up by another boy at the school. The school to their credit dealt with it and expelled the boy. Nevertheless, DS was shaken by this and the incident just added to DS's problems.

A while later and quite suddenly, we noticed a change in DS. Although he was never what you would call an academic high flyer, nevertheless he had ambition and had planned to go to university to study industrial design. He was Design Ambassador at his previous school and it was clear that he had a flair for design. He spoke passionately about having his own design consultancy, buying a live/work unit locally that he had seen and getting a dog.  He had it all planned out.

But suddenly out of the blue he started talking about leaving school as he was "too stupid for uni". He stopped caring about school work and started talking about leaving and taking on manual jobs, which isn't really him. Aside from anything else, he does not like to get dirty. He kept calling himself "dumb" and "useless". He had always been quite a confident boy and this behaviour was new. We had no idea what was going on until I finally heard from Mrs G suggesting we meet. Finally! I told DS in the car when I picked him up from school that Mrs G has finally agreed to meet with us and jokingly said I was tempted to tell her no, she had had her chance. DS then said, "Yeah! And she told [another boy's] mum that I was not the brightest!" I was so shocked I nearly crashed the car. I pulled over and DS burst into tears. He said that everybody thinks he's stupid.  

We arrived home and I immediately emailed Mrs G (and the entire cc list that she had included on her email) that I was furious that she had told ANOTHER PARENT that DS was "not the brightest" and I did not want her anywhere near our son. The other people on cc (Head of Year, Head of Senior School, School Psychologist, etc) quickly organised a meeting (excluding Mrs G) and tried to put a programme together for DS. However, after a few meetings, it was clear that we had lost him. No amount of help was going to do anything now. A few months went by and DS was still completely disengaged from school.

I was still angry at Mrs G as I partly blamed her for us losing nearly a year and for her hurtful comment. We had always been very quiet parents and not ones to make a fuss. Nevertheless, I felt something needed to be done about Mrs G so DH went to see the Headmaster. At the very least, she owed DS an apology. The Headmaster was VERY defensive of Mrs G and kept saying how 'professional' she was. Honestly, that is the last word I would use to describe her. So nothing was done.

Then 2 weeks later and completely out of the blue, the School Accountant contacted us to tell us our Payment Plan was cancelled and we had until the end of the week to settle the fees for both DS and DD. I haven't mentioned DD until now as there's not a lot to say. She is a model student, quiet and well-behaved. She was in Year 5 at the time. The accountant said that if we did not pay the fees by the end of the week, DD 's place would be cancelled with immediate effect. They were allowing DS to stay on as he only had another year to go. This seemed so cruel to DD. She is such a lovely girl. It also didn't make sense. We had a Payment Plan and we were sticking to it. The demand just seemed to come from nowhere.  

DS was still talking about leaving school and becoming a labourer or something, his motivation for school was zero and so I asked the school if they would consider cancelling DS's place and keeping DD. They agreed. So DS left school. We sacrificed DS for DD but felt coerced into it. This was a year ago. Needless to say, the labouring didn't work out. He tried another blue collar job and that didn't work out either. So he's at home, jobless, sad and depressed whilst all his friends are at uni.  

I just feel the school let him down. I am struggling to still pay his fees from his last year at school and I resent it so much. He could have done so well if the school had helped him rather than ridicule him to another parent. I don't want to pay the last year of fees but they've got us over a barrel with DD.

Thanks for listening. Would like to know your thoughts.

OP posts:
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Am I being unreasonable?

674 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
62%
You are NOT being unreasonable
38%
Stopsnowing · 12/02/2024 05:48

If I have I understood correctly they cancelled the payment plan suddenly after you raised concerns? Might it be with checking with a lawyer the terms of the plan? I suspect the school may have discretion to cancel the plan at any time but on the other hand it should not act unreasonably.

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theeyeshaveit82 · 12/02/2024 05:54

Avery2024 · 12/02/2024 01:30

Thanks for all your replies. I would like to request a waiver of Fees for Year 11 and half of Year 12. They totally let him down.

go for it
but not a cat’s chance in hell they will agree to this

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Lighrbulbmo · 12/02/2024 05:56

The longer he is out of school the harder it will be to convince himself he is not dumb, he has survived and is stronger than he knows. The best flowers need the right living conditions to thrive, he didn’t have that, it doesn’t mean he can never have that. Get him online learning, open university degrees are fantastic with a worldwide reputation to match. He can go to university, whilst staying at home, getting a little part time job. If he wants, what are his goals? I agree, he needs counseling. Many many schools now are little hot houses, any instability and they do not have the pastoral support.

You need to pay the fees though, you don’t pay for results and outcomes and pay to access and participate. Besides, you trust the school with your dd so they must be doing something right.

Best wishes and I hope your gets himself into something he loves.

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Mumof2teens79 · 12/02/2024 05:58

Are you in England? Or possibly Australia? That might explain more. England doesn't really make sense as he would have had to stay in education to 18.
You say DS had a previous school...fairly recently? When did he move and why?
I think a bit more of a timeline
March 2020 covid hits?
You (all?) Got stranded overseas? Until 2021?
Sept(?) 2022 move into Y11? Or Jan 2022
Then Jan 2023 DS leaves school....in Y11? Or Y12?

I think your son has had a terrible time but I think elite private schools don't cope well with kids that are high fliers.

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hattie43 · 12/02/2024 06:11

Ohnoooooooo · 12/02/2024 02:51

At my daughter’s private school you could send a complaint into the board and ask for fees to be waivered or reduced - could you do that?
I’m sorry it sounds like your son has had a horrendous time. I am wondering though did you speak to the other parent who apparently had told you son Mrs G said he as not bright? I am wondering if your son’s friend said his mum said that…and there is a case of Chinese whispers changing things slightly or the other boy said this to put down your son?

This was my first thought . OP firing off emails on the basis of hearsay .
Were the actual facts established.
The OP's son had far more going on than a hearsay comment by a teacher the headmaster is fully supporting .
Sounds like the OP is digging for reasons not to pay

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2mummies1baby · 12/02/2024 06:27

Avery2024 · 12/02/2024 01:30

Thanks for all your replies. I would like to request a waiver of Fees for Year 11 and half of Year 12. They totally let him down.

I don't think you have any justification in asking for the Year 11 fees to be waived, as you chose to keep him on for Year 12.

Out of interest, did you investigate after your son told you what Mrs G said? Did you ask whether he'd overheard the comment, or been told by his friend?

My heart is breaking for your poor son, who has been through a terrible few years and must be feeling so lost right now. What mental health support have you sought for him? Are you supporting him in finding a sixth form college to enrol in for September?

Regarding this comment from you:

However, after a few meetings, it was clear that we had lost him. No amount of help was going to do anything now.
**
This is a very defeatist attitude to have about someone so young, and is not helpful to him at all. He needs your support in getting his life back on track.

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Winterstormm · 12/02/2024 06:33

Your son really needs to see a therapist asap. I don't think it's just the teacher's comments that have made your son feel this way. You could go private for therapy and send your son to a state college to do an apprenticeship and send your dd to a state primary to complete year 6. Do you really want to keep her at this school? It doesn't sound like a great place.

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ThePure · 12/02/2024 06:35

Well you could ask. I expect they will say no
I think the assault is your best line of argument rather than a hearsay comment by a teacher as they accept that did happen on their watch

It's always difficult when a complaint is bound up with money because it makes it look that your complaint is purely financially motivated even if it is not.

If you do want DD to stay then is it really worth going to war over? I assume you are still on a payment plan for her fees which they could withdraw at any point. It kinda undermines your position that you are happy for your daughter to still attend a school that let your son down so badly that you should be compensated financially (which is in essence what you are arguing)

I actually would interpret the whole thing as your son being depressed. This is much more likely the cause of his school failure than one alleged comment from a teacher. If she did say it at all then it hit home more because it chimed with his pre existing beliefs about himself. I think he needs an antidepressant and therapy. Let him get the dog and explore some apprenticeships or vocational courses.

Sadly this scenario is not uncommon at 'elite private schools' where DC are under huge pressure for academic achievement

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theeyeshaveit82 · 12/02/2024 06:39

I know you have no doubt been very very anxious and stressed about your son

but in my opinion you have approached this entirely wrong. This school ultimately is a business, and you have seen it as some kind of personal relationship where you basically stamp your feet and get what you want.

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stuckasastuckthing · 12/02/2024 06:41

Mumof2teens79 · 12/02/2024 05:58

Are you in England? Or possibly Australia? That might explain more. England doesn't really make sense as he would have had to stay in education to 18.
You say DS had a previous school...fairly recently? When did he move and why?
I think a bit more of a timeline
March 2020 covid hits?
You (all?) Got stranded overseas? Until 2021?
Sept(?) 2022 move into Y11? Or Jan 2022
Then Jan 2023 DS leaves school....in Y11? Or Y12?

I think your son has had a terrible time but I think elite private schools don't cope well with kids that are high fliers.

Australia does sound more likely if there is a 'Head of learning enhancement' and a diving instructor.

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theeyeshaveit82 · 12/02/2024 06:43

and to think this entire situation is as a result of one comment? good lord. What the hell does your son think when you discuss that with him. He will know it is about so much more than that and the beef between you and the teacher is…. well just that…

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user1492757084 · 12/02/2024 06:47

How does your DD feel?
Do you wish to swap her school?

I think you should apply for a waiver for your son's fees.
The school; council should bring up your case at a meeting at the very least. A polite, well written informative letter with dates etc that encompasses all of your son's interactions in his final two years should give the council enough knowledge to make a decision. Include the fact that you did NOT sue after DS was beaten while in the school's care.


You need those funds to encourage your DS entrance through non university ways (TAFE, polytech) into a qualification that will sustain him for life.
I'm so sad for your DS.

As an artistic person myself, I highly advise getting your son to enroll in any class for artistic expression that interests him.
Apprenticeships in house painting, stone masonry, cabinet making or certificates in drafting etc. might fuel his desire to create and design objects of beauty and usefulness.
Flower arrangeing, print making, glass blowing, landscape gardening assistant,Interior design and decorating assistant, wallpaper designer.
There are so many crafts that could light his fire and recognise his abilities.

Have you ever been to an ancient crafts exhibition or fair?
I went to one near the National Arboritum near Doughton

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CliffsofMohair · 12/02/2024 06:49

Lougle · 12/02/2024 04:20

I am sorry he has had such a hard time. What a lot to cope with. However, I think your description of 'blue collar job' says a lot and it sounds like he has taken on feelings of failure because of the value you place on academic success.

I agree that an EHCP is the way forward.

This.
rightly or wrongly there are huge wealth/class based assumptions of what he ‘should’ have achieved based on the calibre of the school he was attending. I can’t work out where he should be Years wise, but I would echo recommendations for some trauma counselling and some decent career guidance with a lens broader then just university courses.

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ThePure · 12/02/2024 06:57

Did you ever put in a formal complaint using the complaints procedure? I think you need to do that first without mentioning any money and then if you have officially upheld findings then you have a bargaining chip for negotiating on the money. At the moment you don't seem to really have anything.

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confusedbythesystem · 12/02/2024 06:57

user1492757084 · 12/02/2024 06:47

How does your DD feel?
Do you wish to swap her school?

I think you should apply for a waiver for your son's fees.
The school; council should bring up your case at a meeting at the very least. A polite, well written informative letter with dates etc that encompasses all of your son's interactions in his final two years should give the council enough knowledge to make a decision. Include the fact that you did NOT sue after DS was beaten while in the school's care.


You need those funds to encourage your DS entrance through non university ways (TAFE, polytech) into a qualification that will sustain him for life.
I'm so sad for your DS.

As an artistic person myself, I highly advise getting your son to enroll in any class for artistic expression that interests him.
Apprenticeships in house painting, stone masonry, cabinet making or certificates in drafting etc. might fuel his desire to create and design objects of beauty and usefulness.
Flower arrangeing, print making, glass blowing, landscape gardening assistant,Interior design and decorating assistant, wallpaper designer.
There are so many crafts that could light his fire and recognise his abilities.

Have you ever been to an ancient crafts exhibition or fair?
I went to one near the National Arboritum near Doughton

Really refreshing advice here.

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lifebeginsaftercoffee · 12/02/2024 06:59

Avery2024 · 12/02/2024 01:30

Thanks for all your replies. I would like to request a waiver of Fees for Year 11 and half of Year 12. They totally let him down.

They're not going to let you get away with not paying for an entire year of education when you kept him in the school for at least some of following year Confused

It sounds like you're under huge financial stress with your business and just can't afford to pay.

Your son shouldn't have been kept at a school where he miserable.

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Soontobe60 · 12/02/2024 07:01

Blimey, this all sounds a bit much!
I would assume that you followed the schools complaints procedure when the staff member failed to respond? As a parent concerned about her child, that’s what I would have done - can’t get a response from HOY, escalate to their line manager. As for this teacher commenting on your DSs abilities to another student’s parent, I seriously doubt this has happened.
Your responsibility to your DS is to get him some therapy. I’d remove my DD from the school too - you can’t afford it and her staying there is just rubbing your DSs nose into it.

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ThePure · 12/02/2024 07:05

My DH is a successful industrial designer despite failing maths and some of his other GCSEs. I think he got a U for French (back in the day). His parents had also paid for posh private school where he felt a fish out of water. They kicked him out after his GCSEs which did not help his self esteem. He is dyslexic and can't spell for toffee which many artistic people are. He has a huge range of talents in art, music and design but these are not things the exam system credits. I didn't know him then but I think it was a very rough patch for him and he felt he had let his parents down as they had stretched to pay private fees.
Fortunately he was able to retake maths and do A levels part time at an FE college whilst also playing in bands and doing session musician work which boosted his confidence and in the end he went to uni and got a design degree.
So it can work out.

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Dancerprancer19 · 12/02/2024 07:14

As upsetting as it all is there is really nothing to be gained by attempting not to pay (you would end up paying anyway).

The most sensible course of action is to apply for good state secondary schools for your daughter so you get rid of the financial pressure and to support your son emotionally. My priority would be trauma therapy too.

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Poirott · 12/02/2024 07:18

Another one here confused by the timelines. Year 11 2022 entry means he is sitting his A levels next year so his friends should still be in school?

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mitogoshi · 12/02/2024 07:26

I'm guessing not U.K. since I can't advise on any specific legal matters, there's bodies in the U.K. that can mediate, check for the jurestriction you are in.

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FlamingoQueen · 12/02/2024 07:39

Personally, I would remove my dc from the school. If it was the local state school that had treated your ds badly, you would have removed him ages ago. The staff sound awful and stuck up (well, Mrs G is the worst). Your son is having no education there at all, get him out whilst you still can.
I’m sorry that this has happened - it must be so stressful.

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Namechangenamechanged · 12/02/2024 07:50

Do you know exactly what Mrs G said though? It could have been something like ‘he’s not the brightest but he is very hard working or resilient or literally any other nice thing about your son. It is unprofessional of her to comment on your child to another parent though. I’d be reluctant to take a second hand comment out of context and blame your sons entire woes on that, because he’s been through a lot that is likely to have affected him just as much if not more so. He needs therapy to help him process the traumatic events, not just blaming the school. And you owe them money and their contract is likely to be tight.

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CatchAButterfly · 12/02/2024 07:50

Your DS has had a horrific time and I hope he is now doing ok. But honestly, sounds like you’re just looking for an excuse not to pay. You were already struggling with the fees and it does sound like you think you’ve found a reason to save money. But seeing as this happened when he was in year 11, and you’re talking about trying to avoid year 12 fees too, it clearly wasn’t that big a deal to you as otherwise you would have pulled him out.

YANBU to be annoyed at Mrs G. YABU to not pay school fees.

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MustBeNapTime · 12/02/2024 07:53

FlamingoQueen · 12/02/2024 07:39

Personally, I would remove my dc from the school. If it was the local state school that had treated your ds badly, you would have removed him ages ago. The staff sound awful and stuck up (well, Mrs G is the worst). Your son is having no education there at all, get him out whilst you still can.
I’m sorry that this has happened - it must be so stressful.

You might want to actually read ALL of the OP's one and only post before you comment... 😉

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