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
26 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