Skip to main content


This month our expert consultants give answers to a range of questions from parents on the subject of paying school fees while schools are shut during the coronavirus lockdown

King's School Taunton26 January 2021

Q: My income has been severely damaged by the current situation and I can’t meet school fees this term, what should I do?

A: Contact the bursar at your child’s school without delay to find out whether they are able to offer postponed or staged payment terms or a reduction in fees. If your financial situation has been damaged so severely that you don’t think you can meet the fees long-term, speak to the school regarding the possibility of a means-tested bursary. Many schools have been working with parents to get a plan in place regarding fees to ensure the child doesn't have to leave the school.

Q: I am not happy paying school fees this term when I don’t know if and when my child will physically go back to school. Should I withhold payment?

A: If you are able to find the money to pay the fees we would strongly recommend against withholding them as a protest. The contract you have with the school means that you are legally obliged to meet the payment. Refusal to pay will create animosity between you and the school thus damaging a relationship which should always be kept as positive as possible for the benefit of your child’s education. Furthermore, if a lot of other families do the same it could lead to the school being forced to close its doors for good, leaving you and countless other families to make alternative arrangements at short notice. At the very least, if even a small group of parents take this approach, the quality of the school’s offering may be detrimentally affected. If you are genuinely unable to meet the fees, contact the school bursar as recommended above.

Q: I don’t feel that the ‘virtual’ education being offered by my child’s school is worth the fees I am being asked to pay.

A: Provision of online education has come a long way fast since the first lockdown so you may be pleasantly surprised this time around. Schools have learned valuable lessons about what does or doesn’t work for all the different age groups and have refined and improved what they offer. Inevitably, there are some things that must fall to parents (eg catering, pastoral and emotional support and provision of physical activity). We would recommend taking the approach that – at this point in time – you will support the school and your child by doing what you can to plug any gaps that cannot be filled remotely. If, once the term is in full swing, you still feel that the school is falling short of its commitments, contact your child’s class teacher or head of year (whoever would usually be responsible for their academic progress) to voice your concerns, escalating your views to the senior leadership team if your feedback isn’t taken on board.

Q: We can’t afford school fees any longer and our school isn’t able to offer a bursary.

A: In this most unfortunate situation we would expect schools to allow the children in question to complete the academic year before having to leave. You should let the school know of your situation as soon as possible with a view to discussing reduced or staged payments for the summer term. If there is absolutely no possibility that your child will be able to stay on, contact your local education authority who will help you find a place in a state-maintained school. The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants also offer reasonably priced consultancy packages to guide parents through changes such as this and can be contacted at [email protected]

Do you want help from The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants?

Our expert education consultants can provide your family with one-to-one help on all of the issues raised in this article and many more. We regularly help parents understand the particulars of UK independent schools and assist them in mapping out potential educational pathways for their children. If you would like to find out more about our services, visit the Education Consultants homepage or to speak directly with one of the team email [email protected] or call 0203 286 6824

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Special educational needs introduction

    Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need. Our SEN consultancy team advises on both special schools, and the mainstream schools with good SEN support, from reception through to the specialist colleges for 19+. Special Educational Needs Index

  • The Good Schools Guide International

    Find top international, British, IB and American schools in over 40 countries. The Good Schools Guide International publishes impartial and forthright reviews of international schools across the world.

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2022 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value.

  • Grammar schools in the UK

    Grammar schools are state-funded, academically selective senior schools. The education a child receives at grammar school is paid for by the state unlike at private schools which provide education for a fee. There are currently around 163 located in 36 English local authorities, with around 167,000 pupils between them. Northern Ireland has a further 67 grammar schools, but there are none in Wales or Scotland. A word of caution: there are private schools that have the word 'grammar' in their name but this is purely for historical reasons. 

  • Music, drama and dance at Performing Arts schools

    At specialist music, dance or performing arts schools, the arts aren't optional extras. They’re intrinsic to the school curriculum. Students are expected to fit in high level training and hours of practice alongside a full academic provision. It's a lot to ask any child to take on, but for those with exceptional performing ability this kind of education can be transformative.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.


Our most recent newsletter: