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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:
Report

Am I being unreasonable?

674 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
62%
You are NOT being unreasonable
38%
Prunesqualler · 12/02/2024 13:38

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 )

I meant ‘vindictive’ head there 🤣

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Milkandnosugarplease · 12/02/2024 13:41

Does your daughter have a guaranteed space for senior school? Or are you planning for your DS year 12 rebate to cover summer term fees for her?

I am surprised he was taken into Year 12 if he struggled in Year 11. You may get Year 12 back but unlikely to get Year 11

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shepherdsangeldelight · 12/02/2024 13:43

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.

If OP is in Australia GDPR does not apply.

And even if it did, solicitors do not operate on hearsay.
Even more to the point saying a child is "not one of the brightest" really isn't a GDPR breach.

Report
Animatic · 12/02/2024 14:48

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.

We had a situation in a well-known and well-regarded London prep where Learning Enrichment Head was worse than useless and utterly unprofessional. One wouldn't know where to start poking holes (and I feel my heart racing typing this 2 years later). So when we had a meeting with the Head and brought up LEH's lack of qualification (and some very unpleasant comments) he stuck by her and turned on us. We left that school the same year.
They tend to stick for their staff, and I don't feel that's a battle worth having.

Report
Animatic · 12/02/2024 15:11

PropertyManager · 12/02/2024 10:11

I'm a teacher in the private sector and on SLT, been in the sector 22 years. From your OP it sounds to me like you are abroad, you use terms we wouldn't usually use in the UK, for example:

You say "Elite Private School", we would say "Public School"
You say "School Accountant", we would say "Bursar" or "School Business Manager"
You say "Head of Learning Enhancement", we would say "SENCO"

This is important, because things work differently in different territories.

I'm very sorry your son has had all this strife to contend with alongside the issues COVID has caused to all young people learning through this period.

However, it does seem like the school has been supportive to you, they expelled (which is a big decision as it has a huge financial cost) another student to end bullying and they put in place a payment plan.

As a teacher I find it hard to conceive of a situation where I would be in a position to comment on the intelligence of a pupil to another parent, not only would it be very unprofessional, I'm not sure how it would arise. And it seems you only have your DS say so, second hand from a peer, the Mrs G said this - it really sounds to me like this has grown in the telling, its quite conceivable that Mrs G made an innocent comment, such as "Joe is having support for his maths too, your son gets on with joe, they could go in a group together" - after a few repeats Mrs G said Joe is thick, its easy to see how this could happen...

However, even if Mrs G was unprofessional, and unkind, you should not have lost him over this, it would have been a good chance to re-enforce to him that the world is not a fair place, and not everyone is kind etc... also that you can be "not the brightest" in one area and a high flyer in another. You could be a great artist but crap at maths.

I would agree with pp that you don't stand a chance at not paying - the school provided the service, and will persue the debt. We chase debts of non paying parents to the courts - pp's talk of reputational damage, but its not an issue - if we are chasing say £60K in unpaid fees, that kind of case doesn't get reported on, the courts process tens of thousands of unpaid debt cases every year, and the debtor immediately looks in the wrong and can be expected to put up a spurious defence, no ones going to print such a story.

Head of Learning Enrichment is what SENCO is called in private schools in the UK. Perhaps it's just a way of using a "nicer title" w/o SEN in it.

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LoveAHamSandwhich · 12/02/2024 15:12

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.

Edited

If the injury wasn't fully investigated and documented at the time, what do you think can be proved about its ramifications now?

You also clearly have no idea what GDPR is.

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newlaptop12 · 12/02/2024 16:00

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 will never agree to this. You'd have to withdraw him and then sue and the small print when you signed up will mean you'll lose.

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fixies · 12/02/2024 18:02

I think you are placing too much emphasis an mrs g. You don't t even know what was said and in what context. I can't believe her word alone has caused your sons disingagement. He's been through a lot and needs helped.

I went to a private school where you were described as 'not bright'if you couldn't get into oxfbridge... they are elitist and this is the way people talk.

Can't you seek legal advice about the payment plan? There must be conditions you / they agreed to. They can't just cancel it.

I agree re others, contact the board of governors.

I would try and let your son lead his recovery. If he's interested in design, it really doesn't matter what his grades are. What matters is his folio. He need to get into a good art schooll but a college course would also suffice in all honesty. You don't need an elite education to be a designer. So I'd focus on him recovering. Get him out of there. Let him explore other options.

I hope he gets the help he needs.

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SkiSkii · 13/02/2024 12:33

LoveAHamSandwhich · 12/02/2024 15:12

If the injury wasn't fully investigated and documented at the time, what do you think can be proved about its ramifications now?

You also clearly have no idea what GDPR is.

You’ve misunderstood, it’s not about proving anything. It’s about OP’s son getting medical treatment, if it’s needed. Fingers crossed he’s okay and that has nothing to do with it. It should be eliminated as a possible contributing factor, head injuries can cause changes in behaviour.

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LoveAHamSandwhich · 13/02/2024 14:06

SkiSkii · 13/02/2024 12:33

You’ve misunderstood, it’s not about proving anything. It’s about OP’s son getting medical treatment, if it’s needed. Fingers crossed he’s okay and that has nothing to do with it. It should be eliminated as a possible contributing factor, head injuries can cause changes in behaviour.

You said: "I would look into having his head investigated for possible injuries sustained when he was beaten"

My point is that OP cannot prove that any injury, and its aftereffects, came from the beating - because he wasn't treated for any injury at the time.

He could have had a subsequent accident/incident, which was nothing to do with the school.

I really don't think that OP has a leg to stand on with regard to not paying the fees.

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theeyeshaveit82 · 13/02/2024 15:19

 I tried to get them into a private school who refused stating that they’d need too much help. 

this was actually a really good school. It knew what it could and couldn’t offer your son and was honest at the expense of receiving your fees @Cerealkiller4U

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theeyeshaveit82 · 13/02/2024 15:21

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.

agreed

hence the OP having shuffled off the thread. The questions got too revealing

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notknowledgeable · 13/02/2024 15:27

I think you need to take them both out, settle up, and find a different way forward for both of them

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