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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Our son has been at a fee paying school since 2007. The school

Customer Question

Our son has been at a fee paying school since 2007. The school means tests our fees each year based on income and outgoings information that we provide for the previous tax year. This results in a bursary being awarded.

Recently they have published, online, a set of examples showing net incomes and the bursaries that can be expected.

When our 2013/14 assessment was received recently we compared this to these examples. The result is that our fees are approx £4000 more per annum than suggested by their site.

I have challenged this. The response we received indicated that these examples were for new parents only. That they do not apply to us, and that we are not eligible for this much lower fee structure.

We were not aware of this difference before. The lower fees are not a 'special offer', the fee structure will apply to these new parents throughout their time at that school.

In other words, just because a child joined the school a few years after us, parents of that child, on the same net income, will be substantially better off than we will for the same product.

I suspect we have been discriminated against, and that, just because of the age of our child, we have paid many thousands of pounds more than we would have done if he were younger.

Can we challenge their position on any grounds?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  leanne-jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello - my name is Leanne and it will be my pleasure to assist you today.

Is it a state or am I assuming private school?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi. It is a private school
Expert:  leanne-jones replied 3 years ago.
Does this policy state it depends on when the child started or when it comes into force?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We had not been aware of this difference until the school published examples on it's website.


 


The following is the response we received from the school yesterday when I asked why there was such a significant difference in their example versus our award (£4000)


 


Dear Mr Cuenca


 


Thank you for your email of 14 June 2013. Firstly, let me clarify that the Bursary examples presented on our website are for prospective parents and are therefore based on the assessment procedures and contribution scales applicable to those applicants.


 


Your son was awarded a bursary commencing at the start of Michaelmas Term 2007 following an assessment of your financial circumstances in accordance with the School's assessment procedure current at the time. That award was adjusted in 2008 when all bursary awards were revised to take account of pension contributions. Since then, the School has continued to carry out annual assessments following that procedure.


 


The decision to move to a revised assessment scheme for new parents (from 1 September 2012) was taken by the CH Foundation to reflect the changing pupil profile and was subsequently endorsed by the Council of Almoners. Periodic revision of existing fee schemes by schools, banks and utilities for new customers is standard business practice, as is the protection offered existing clients by the terms of their contract with that organisation.


 


The school does go to considerable length to ensure that our means-testing process is equitable for all of our bursary applicants and while we would like to be able to offer those of our families who are in need even more support than we do at present, we do not have the financial means to do so.


 


Your contract with the school is based on the earlier fee assessment scheme and therefore, the school will continue to assess Oliver’s fees on the original scheme. For reference your fee for 2013/14 is currently assessed at £XXX


 


 


Which means that new parents will pay substantially less than us as a result of the fee changes introduced in September 2012 for new entrants. This lasting for the entire term of their education.

Expert:  leanne-jones replied 3 years ago.
Does the policy state that its a contract tie in?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I need to get a copy of the original contract, we don't seem to have a copy.


But the fees vary annually anyway according to whatever was earned in the previous tax year.


 


In essence, we are talking about a method of calculation that differs.


 


In addition, what is taken into account as a relevant deduction has changed since we started. i.e. they used to take into account pension contributions, and they now do not.


 


The starting maximum fee - the same for all academic years - when we began was £19000 (2006/7) - it is now £28200 so they have varied the calculation and the variable considerably, without notice since we started.


 


 

Expert:  leanne-jones replied 3 years ago.
Thanks. Get a copy of the contract if you would and let me know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Have put a request in . Will return to you when received. Many thanks.

Expert:  leanne-jones replied 3 years ago.
Great

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