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Private school charging FULL term's fees because of 'not enough notice' (5 months)- is this really legal??

31 replies

limecrush · 09/05/2008 23:25

Wondering if anyone else has been there or can advise me what to do...

Am divorcing h and moving out of London. This is only being sorted out now. Contacted school registrar to say can I give notice now for September.

Was told 'yes but you will have to pay a full term's fees because we require a full term's notice' i.e. I have to pay about £3k for NOTHING because I didn't know what I was doing in September before 10 APRIL.

I know I signed up to this. But is that really a fair contractual term?? If one can get out of bank charges isn't there a way out of this?

What if I refuse to pay it claiming I'm giving nearly 5 months notice and it's unfair to ask anything these schools tend to take you straight to court or what??

am just soooo incensed. It's the state system for me once I'm up North I reckon.

OP posts:
lisad123 · 09/05/2008 23:31

did you sign anything?

limecrush · 09/05/2008 23:33

yeah I think it is a term in the contract you have to sign to get your child a place (so the registrar snottily informed me anyway- ex h signed that I think). But don't think he or I really understood that full term's notice could mean 5 months! And I just don't think the term is fair- a bit like banks overcharging massively and then saying 'but you signed a contract'- surely not right!!

OP posts:
stitch · 09/05/2008 23:33

yes it is.
when you sign up, you say you will give a terms notice in writing. so completely legal
you could try and get the school on a sympathy thing, but i doubt if yu could force them to say it was illegal

limecrush · 09/05/2008 23:34

omg. 3k for absolutely nothing. Gulp.

not as much to ex h as it is to me post divorce. that is twice my monthly salary (at least).

OP posts:
soapbox · 09/05/2008 23:35

It is a fairly standard notice period for private schools as such, I think there would be only a very remote chance that it would be viewed as an unfair contract term.

It is pretty likely that they will pursue you for the debt.

stitch · 09/05/2008 23:35

ds will be starting private school soon. i earn 150 pounds a month, but the school insisted that both parents sign all the various bits of the contract. if we divorce, i am screwed, not the marriage certificate, not the mortgage, not the emotional crap, but that one document with the school.

raisinbran · 10/05/2008 00:41

Maybe you could negotiate with them and see if they fill all their spaces for the year your son would have been in. If they can't then I suppose they will insist on charging however surely they would rather get another pupil for a whole year than just your fee for one term.

limecrush · 10/05/2008 14:58

god it's crap! Think I will just keep commuting from London up north and leave ds1 in the school for the year rather than fork out for nothing
it will mean dh gets more custody as kids will stay in London a year longer, but that is what he wants anyway...

OP posts:
FluffyMummy123 · 10/05/2008 14:59

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FluffyMummy123 · 10/05/2008 15:00

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notjustmom · 10/05/2008 15:05

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

avenanap · 10/05/2008 15:10

Why is this your responsibility to pay this and not the ex husbands? Were you not in this together? He should pay 50%. Have you spoken to the head to see if there's a way around this?

Quattrocento · 10/05/2008 15:11

I would go down on my knees - dissolve in tears if at all possible (onions) and tell them how you have no money at all now - and yes you would have given a full term's notice but you didn't know your husband was going to run off with a Thai/Russian/Secretary/Bimbo and you have developed depression and anxiety and cannot face life any more

See what happens. They'll let you pay it in instalments over time at the very least. Better if you could burst into tears over the Head though.

JudgeNutmeg · 10/05/2008 15:13

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JudgeNutmeg · 10/05/2008 15:17

Sorry, I see you are moving over to the state system. I hope that you get everything sorted quickly and life settles down nicely for you.

edam · 10/05/2008 15:17

I think Cod's right - either refuse or offer to pay in installments. But before you do either, check with your local trading standards office.

Janni · 10/05/2008 15:24

If I were you I would try writing a grovelling letter to the bursar or headteacher, whoever you think will be more sympathetic, explaining your situation and asking them to let you off the full fees since you are giving them five months notice.

Loshad · 10/05/2008 15:28

It's a bit unfair on the school to refuse to pay though, they may well have turned away a pupil for September because they were full. It's certainly worth speaking to them nicely, and explaining the circumstances, but I don't think the agreement is unreasonable in principle.
Agree with others though, why are you going to have to pay this, can't ex-H stump up at least half.

limecrush · 10/05/2008 15:29

judge I am soooo going state! I wanted to beforehand but ex h was all into private as automatically better!

I think I will grovel. Yes we are jointly and severally liable but ex h is saying I have to pay as my fault for not taking ds1 out of school earlier - things v. acrimonious atm, mostly my fault so can't get too vengeful.

OP posts:
limecrush · 10/05/2008 15:30

btw Loshad I know they haven't turned anyone down...they have at least 6 free places. They do sometimes refund your place if they fill it but have said given the amount of places available this is unlikely to happen.

OP posts:
avenanap · 10/05/2008 15:32

It's very unreasonable on his part if he was the one wanting your child to go to a private school and he's expecting you to pay for this. If you are jointly liable have a chat to the head and request that the fees are split. They can chase him for the money rather then you.

limecrush · 10/05/2008 15:33

will do avena, however thought jointly and severally liable means they just issue a joint summons?? am scared

OP posts:
Quattrocento · 10/05/2008 15:35

but that is not what jointly and severally liable means avenap. It means if her DH is refusing to pay then she is liable and vice versa

avenanap · 10/05/2008 15:38

Have a chat to the head before you get any more worried. They are often more amicable then the registrar and he may be more sympathetic. Just tell them that you are moving your child to the state system as you are unable to afford the fees as a single parent. Tell him it was the ex husbands wish to send your child to the school and he has left you in a mountain of debt following the divorce. If you stress the 'unable to pay' he may be lenient. If you offer to make token payments it will go down better.

Have you been to see a solicitor about this?

LIZS · 10/05/2008 18:38

If they insist upon you paying it can you delay the move and just withdraw him at Christmas ?

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