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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%
HenndigoOZ · 12/02/2024 10:28

2mummies1baby · 12/02/2024 10:13

Pretty sure the OP is in Australia.

Yes, year 11 entry in 2022 is in late January in Australia, as the school year starts then. So they all will have all left school by December 2023 in time for the long summer holidays and starting university around February or March 2024.

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Ijustdontcare · 12/02/2024 10:47

I can see the parts you are leaving out of your story from a mile away.

When your son first told you about what the teacher had said, why didn't you continue to the meeting with her, or contact the head and senior team at the school and discuss privately and investigate? Instead, you sent a public email harassing her and saying she should be effectively fired.
You are also leaving out why they cancelled your payment plan as I'm guessing it was because you continued to harass and threaten Mrs G and the school felt they had no action but to kick your kids out.

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TimetoPour · 12/02/2024 10:50

Your focus needs to move forward.

If you are so unhappy with the school then you should remove your daughter at the end of this year and find a more professional setting for her.

Your poor son sounds like he has had the most awful few years. Mrs G’s comment was unprofessional and unkind but a drop in the ocean compared to the traumatic events that had occurred before. I would suggest a visit to the GP to discuss his mental health, and as others have suggested, looking in to an EHCP with a view to looking at an appropriate educational facility if he feels he would like to go back to learning in the future.

As for the fees, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on. You were having trouble paying before any of this occurred. You kept your son in school despite saying you weren’t happy. Your DD is still attending this school. You could have escalated the emails above Mrs G at any point but didn’t. You say the bullying was dealt with swiftly and effectively. This leaves the inappropriate comment made by Mrs G, which no doubt they will say is hearsay.

You need to pay up and focus on the important thing- the welfare of your children.

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mm6 · 12/02/2024 10:52

You must be so angry. It sounds like your sons loss of confidence is because the entire school, teachers and pupils alike, decided to bully him rather than support him during a difficult time.

I would get your daughter out of that school, it sounds like there are serious culture problems that go right the way up. Also I would not trust the teachers not to blame your daughter for the arguments they're having with you and your son, they seem like those sort of people. This unfortunately would result in her being treated cruelly. The start of year 7 is an excellent time to start a new school.

If your daughter is at the school it might be hard to avoid paying the fees. But if you take her out, you could threaten to go to the tabloids should the school take you to court. To be honest I would be tempted to do this anyway.

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brightyellowflower · 12/02/2024 11:04

Always the rich that argue they shouldn't have to pay.

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Krystall · 12/02/2024 11:05

mm6 · 12/02/2024 10:52

You must be so angry. It sounds like your sons loss of confidence is because the entire school, teachers and pupils alike, decided to bully him rather than support him during a difficult time.

I would get your daughter out of that school, it sounds like there are serious culture problems that go right the way up. Also I would not trust the teachers not to blame your daughter for the arguments they're having with you and your son, they seem like those sort of people. This unfortunately would result in her being treated cruelly. The start of year 7 is an excellent time to start a new school.

If your daughter is at the school it might be hard to avoid paying the fees. But if you take her out, you could threaten to go to the tabloids should the school take you to court. To be honest I would be tempted to do this anyway.

Is this a a sarcastic post, I can’t tell. All teachers and all the other pupils turned upon OPs son, really? How likely do you think that is? And honestly, as I have mentioned upthread, the school is not scared of tabloids. And tabloids are not going to be especially interested in a teacher that didn’t reply to her emails quickly enough and who may or may not have commented on how bright a particular student is.

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Ophy83 · 12/02/2024 11:21

You need to get legal advice from a contract law specialist who can look at everything, including their potential breaches of contract in what happened with your son. It may be you have a claim against them that exceeds the value of the fees.

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lifebeginsaftercoffee · 12/02/2024 11:27

Prizefighter · 12/02/2024 10:22

Have you spoken to a solicitor? I would be tempted to speak to a litigator about this.

There may be a breach of duty of care on the school’s part. My tactics would be to go in hard with a solicitor and claim against the school. Then agree to drop it if they dropped the fees.

If the OP believes the school failed in their duty of care, why did she continue to send both children to the school and why does she still want to send her daughter?

Those will be the first questions asked in court and I can't think of any answer that will get her out of paying what she owes.

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TeacherCollection · 12/02/2024 11:28

Why would you keep your DD at a school you
clearly hate so much?

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WitchWithoutChips · 12/02/2024 11:35

TeacherCollection · 12/02/2024 11:28

Why would you keep your DD at a school you
clearly hate so much?

And why would you allow her to remain in a school which is prepared to hold her education to ransom?

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theeyeshaveit82 · 12/02/2024 11:38

i wonder if the Op will be back.

either way…. i think the school will be bloody relieved if the Op withdraws her daughter and they have nothing more to do with the OP (oh but they will pursue payment and too bloody right)

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LoveAHamSandwhich · 12/02/2024 11:48

theeyeshaveit82 · 12/02/2024 11:38

i wonder if the Op will be back.

either way…. i think the school will be bloody relieved if the Op withdraws her daughter and they have nothing more to do with the OP (oh but they will pursue payment and too bloody right)

The school was clearly trying to manage the OP out by cancelling the payment plan. I'm astonished they allowed OP's DD to remain!

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Bluevelvetsofa · 12/02/2024 11:57

It’s so annoying when half the information is missing and the OP doesn’t update at all.

I think there were big holes in the story, things missing and others glossed over. I’m guessing the OP didn’t want suggestions, she just wanted everyone to say how awful the school is.

No one here can do that. We don’t have any perspective from the school and we have part of a story.

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WitchWithoutChips · 12/02/2024 12:06

If OP is in Australia her updates are not going to appear on a GMT schedule.

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Switcher · 12/02/2024 12:08

So much to unpack here.

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MamaAlwaysknowsbest · 12/02/2024 12:08

Where do one even start?!
It is so sad that you spent all that money, believing you are doing good for your son and just a single person, just like that, made sure , your son does not go anywhere because she thinks he is not the brightest.

however, come on. Start from the beginning. Tell your son to think again does he want to go uni and just apply, see what happens and take life on wave at a time. Too many waves came to your son and you left it all to the school. The schools do not have really have the biggest responsibility for people's lives, even mental lives. We ourselves are the managers of our own mental lives.

Embrace with love your son and prompt him to go to uni.

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Cerealkiller4U · 12/02/2024 12:15

Oh gosh. So we went through something similar. My eldest had trouble in state school. They have adhd and struggled academically. I tried to get them into a private school who refused stating that they’d need too much help.

we had no hell at all and my only course was to home ed. Their mental health was suffering and I couldn’t stand by and let it happen.

mat the end of the day. Private schools are a business…they aren’t really there for your children..:.I found this out when they promised to help over and over but then refused.

I’ve home ed for 5 years now. Instead of private school fees we put the money into private tutors who come by. They adore it and their mental health is phenomenal and I’d not change it for the workd

they can always retake exams! Exams aren’t too bad. Whatever age he can always redo them.

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Cerealkiller4U · 12/02/2024 12:18

ArseInTheCoOpWindow · 12/02/2024 01:46

My Dd dropped out of school in Year 12. She’s got AUDHD. She hadn’t been through the same as your ds but was totally traumatised by school and refused to set foot in a school ever again.

12 months later she has an EHCP and is going to an ASD 6 th form. One or 2 children to
a teacher. Quiet, easy relaxed but very supportive staff. Each child has their own support mentor. Anything less like a school is hard to imagine.

Give him time. You need an EHCP.

She won’t be able to get him out of an ECHP as easily though. They’re notoriously difficult to get our of

we had the exact same happen to my dd. It’s horrific.

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Atethehalloweenchocs · 12/02/2024 12:20

Oh how horrible. Maybe when he has had some space from this school, he would be open to the idea that not all places of learning are like that, and he may do better elsewhere? I was written off when I failed the 11+, primary and secondary (inner city, rough) schools said I was not very bright and would have to leave at 16 (long time ago!) to work in a local factory. Fortunately we moved to a small market town in the country where schools were considerably better and there were not enough kids to steam them into different types of school. Because the teachers were more open minded, they, and I, discovered I am not stupid. I have now studied up to Ph.D. level and always been towards the top of any class I have been in. Please tell him that not everyone thinks he is stupid, just one narrow minded unpleasant woman. And that he has lots of options over and above labouring.

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Cerealkiller4U · 12/02/2024 12:32

You clearly have to think about your daughter

you can’t not pay the fees for your son and expect them to not kick your daughter out

you either need to pay to keep her there or move her then threaten not to oay

what you’re saying doesn’t make sense at all!

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BrokenBonesStixStones · 12/02/2024 12:35

I am so sorry that your poor DS went through that, it’s horrific! Mrs G should not be working in a school.

Would it be possible to reframe it in his mind, as in let’s show the battle axe how wrong she was! And use it as motivation?

My DF was told on the daily that he was stupid and would amount to nothing, at school. He proved them wrong in spectacular style!

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Stopmotion24 · 12/02/2024 12:35

I’m sorry about the horrible situation you describe, however if the school kept your child’s place and essentially missed out on offering the place to another child, they understandably will want to charge the fees due for that place. That doesn’t excuse them for being shit and not going about it diplomatically and I agree with others that probably best to find a better school for your other child as it looks like you have lost all confidence in it and will probably have more issues down the line.

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chantelion · 12/02/2024 13:12

Cerealkiller4U · 12/02/2024 12:32

You clearly have to think about your daughter

you can’t not pay the fees for your son and expect them to not kick your daughter out

you either need to pay to keep her there or move her then threaten not to oay

what you’re saying doesn’t make sense at all!

I think this op. You can't expect to take this further without jeopardising your dd position there. So you either go all in and remove her or pay it back and keep her there. Also it seems like Mrs, G comment was rather the last straw for your ds instead of the actual build up of trauma. If you felt they were failing him, why didn't you push further when it was the time? Why didn't you approach the Head when the emails to this lady was ignored ? I don't think you will be very successful in your claim, and if you know how private schools work you might cause an issue for your dd if you try move her to another private school.

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SkiSkii · 12/02/2024 13:32

I would look into having his head investigated for possible injuries sustained when he was beaten that may have caused a change in behaviour, go to a specialist in this field.

I would also instruct a solicitor regarding Mrs G having broken the now very strong GPDR laws, she and the school could be in serious trouble.

I would be very reluctant to disturb your daughter’s schooling, she no doubt has already been on the back burner whilst you all sorted out her brother’s problems. Let the money go, it’s not worth the future mental health and prospects of your child.

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Prunesqualler · 12/02/2024 13:36

One of Our old school did lots of payment plans including a charge on your property so if you sold they would get paid then.
If you have signed up to paying the fees then, obviously, that is what you have to do.
Unless contracts with the school clearly state, if you are not happy with the service you don’t have to pay, then you have to pay.
Not being happy with the school doesn’t negate you from paying and obviously if you want to remove a child you need to give the contracted notice period and pay for that as well. All this applies unless you have something in writing to the contrary.

It’s weird, though, that they cancelled your plan midway ( your school name doesn’t start with a Y does it…..indicative head there )

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