Leavers and fees

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Fjgrogan » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:44 am

Surely any Old Blue who is of an age to be a judge would be likely to feel, as many of the older generation seem to, that what is happening now is not in the spirit or of the ethos of CH as it was originally?
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by MrsAverage » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:45 pm

I'd just like to make it clear that what we are unhappy about are the disproportionate rises in fees that seem to only affect families as they reach some hidden levels of charge imposed by the Foundation.
We are totally in favour of equitable means testing and of each family paying a proportionate rate according to their income. When DS started at CH I thought they refused entry to those with an income above a certain level with the idea those people could afford independent education elsewhere. We knew then we were not able to afford private fees – even day fees would have been beyond our reach – yet now we are being asked for 50% more than the local independents charge even though our circumstance have not changed much. If the Foundation thought we could not afford private education then – how can they think we can afford 150% of it now?
As 2 working parents we knew we would be asked for more fees than some others and were happy to agree to this. 5 years on we find our fees have doubled from the original assessment and the first year although our income has only risen in line with inflation. Our repeated requests for a breakdown as how things are calculated so that we may try predict potential fees in advance get met with insulting replies saying we should make sacrifices for our child (as if not having your child at home with you is not the greatest sacrifice!).
Like ailurophile, we have raised our concerns and continue to raise them through the official routes but get nowhere.
Yes, dinahcat, some may give other reasons for leaving because few want to admit to their child they can no longer pay for them. Unfortunately for us we have no grandparents or other relatives to contribute and no reasonable other alternative so cannot lie about (sorry dress up!) our reasons for leaving. It is heartbreaking to have to discuss this with our DS who is so happy and so fulfilled at CH – straight A’s predicted - and who may now be destined to the local comp with its over crowded and chewing gum infested corridors through no fault of his, or his parents, making.
I repeat that we not looking to pay no fees, just to have them set at a reasonable rate according to our income, as was presented to us (contracted with us?) when we started. Now we are in the situation where they take each extra £ we earn 100%, leaving us to still find the tax and NI –but from what as they already take all our “disposable income”? This cannot be right. A system that penalises working, married and honest people in this way is not right.
What has particularly concerned us now and prompted me to start seeking facts and support, is the volumes we are hearing as to how many students this is affecting as this attitude and way of charging will have long term consequences for CH as a whole. If they intend to fill the places left by pushing out ‘average income’ pupils with full fee payers they will have a shock as full payers parents will want full service in every area. Those of us who used to be grateful to the school put up with much more than they will. Maybe it will be an end to: lumpy broken mattresses; walking outside to breakfast;, ‘sorry fewer actives because we’ve had to cut staff’; ‘sorry that subject no longer available as we’ve had to cut staff; ‘sorry that external trip is off as we’ve had to cut staff’. And of course there’s the well known sales adage – a happy customer tells a few people, an unhappy customer tells hundreds. We used to praise CH highly, now we say “the education is good but beware and think twice – because that’s what it will cost you”.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Sussex » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:00 pm

I have lurked on this forum for a long time and read every thread I possibly can on the subject of how to get a place and the financial side at CH. We were delighted today to receive a letter with an offer of a place. However, also a strange feeling of sadness as we have decided to go elsewhere. We have an offer of a scholarship and bursary at a good independent which will cost us less than half of the cost of CH. We really support the ethos of the school and have a CH connection in the family, however we just do not feel we can commit to many years of uncertaintly over fee increases, particularly as ultimately we have more than one child that we would like to educate at CH if accepted. We are a two parent family with a good income and fully expect to pay as much as we can afford to CH/another school to educate our children but do not want to find ourselves in the position it seems many pretns have done over recent years. It is interesting to note that the means testing for the independent school is much more transparent and amongst other things allows for pension contributions and clearly many other things besides. Despite this I do feel some sadness but feel that we are making the right decision.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by J.R. » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:29 am

How strange.

I wrote some months ago on this site regarding trying to get our GS into CH with the backing of his previous head-teacher and the problems my daughter had had in communicating with the school.

There must be a lot of places suddenly becoming available left right and centre, because last week she receieved a letter wanting to know if she still wanted GS considered for entry.

The answer was... 'Thank you, but NO !"
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Richard Ruck » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:27 pm

I know this forum is unofficial (and long may it remain so), but as this subject will be of extreme concern to Old Blues, parents, prospective parents and, not least, pupils, it might be useful if somebody with the authority to speak for the Foundation / School could come here and post a brief overview of the current situation, with particular reference to the points raised.

I would assume that these issues must be the subject of much discussion on the parents' forum. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to provide a quick precis, for the benefit of us non parents. Are aggrieved parents a vocal minority, or is the feeling that the problem is more widespread?

The impression I'm getting at the moment is that families are being squeezed either to become more 'profitable', or to fall by the wayside and make room for the speedy admission of extra numbers of full fee payers. If this is indeed the case, then an honest justification would be welcome. People would rather hear the truth, no matter how unpalatable.If it's not the case, then, equally, some form of rebuttal might be helpful.

Either way, silence never put paid to speculation and rumour.
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Mid A 15 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:40 pm

Richard Ruck wrote:I know this forum is unofficial (and long may it remain so), but as this subject will be of extreme concern to Old Blues, parents, prospective parents and, not least, pupils, it might be useful if somebody with the authority to speak for the Foundation / School could come here and post a brief overview of the current situation, with particular reference to the points raised.

I would assume that these issues must be the subject of much discussion on the parents' forum. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to provide a quick precis, for the benefit of us non parents. Are aggrieved parents a vocal minority, or is the feeling that the problem is more widespread?

The impression I'm getting at the moment is that families are being squeezed either to become more 'profitable', or to fall by the wayside and make room for the speedy admission of extra numbers of full fee payers. If this is indeed the case, then an honest justification would be welcome. People would rather hear the truth, no matter how unpalatable.If it's not the case, then, equally, some form of rebuttal might be helpful.

Either way, silence never put paid to speculation and rumour.
Well said Richard.

As I've posted elsewhere in this section it is perfectly legitimate to debate "need" in all its guises and academic standards prior to children arriving at CH.

However once children are accepted by the School the goalposts should not be moved. The welfare of existing pupils should be paramount. It is not the fault of the children if they possess "the wrong type of parent (s)" according to the perceptions of the recently new regime.
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:47 pm

Mrs Average ---- yes, indeed, there used to be a "Glass Ceiling" regarding parent's Income, which had obtained for centuries.
A previous Head decided to remove this in order --- He SAID -- to improve the social mix of the School.
I was in the Science Theatre (Does it still exist ?) as an Old Blue, with many others who were horrified.
Yes, the majority of OBs, young or old, deplore this change --- but what to do ? :(

As to Old Blue Judges -- I think they, also would be horrified. My remark about Judges referred to the fact that many would have been educated at Fee-paying schools, and, therefore, might not appreciate the particular Ethos of CH !

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by ailurophile » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:55 pm

Sussex wrote
I have lurked on this forum for a long time and read every thread I possibly can on the subject of how to get a place and the financial side at CH. We were delighted today to receive a letter with an offer of a place. However, also a strange feeling of sadness as we have decided to go elsewhere. We have an offer of a scholarship and bursary at a good independent which will cost us less than half of the cost of CH. We really support the ethos of the school and have a CH connection in the family, however we just do not feel we can commit to many years of uncertaintly over fee increases, particularly as ultimately we have more than one child that we would like to educate at CH if accepted. We are a two parent family with a good income and fully expect to pay as much as we can afford to CH/another school to educate our children but do not want to find ourselves in the position it seems many pretns have done over recent years. It is interesting to note that the means testing for the independent school is much more transparent and amongst other things allows for pension contributions and clearly many other things besides. Despite this I do feel some sadness but feel that we are making the right decision.
Sussex, presumably the school where you have decided to send your child is a day school so that the fees are not really comparable? However, it is interesting that even as a ‘two parent family with a good income’ you have been offered both a scholarship and a bursary at another good independent school. You make a very significant point about transparency, and the inclusion of different elements in the calculation of income for means testing. Assessment of income at CH has become increasingly divorced from financial reality, so that for many current as well as prospective parents the school is no longer fulfilling its stated aim of making a boarding education affordable. IMHO you are well advised to choose an alternative school where you can have a clearer picture of exactly what you are signing up to for the years ahead.

This experience highlights yet again what appears to be some rather muddled thinking by CH senior management on how to tackle the school’s financial problems and which direction to take. They seem to want to attract more full fee-paying parents, without recognising that to do so they will need to operate in a very competitive market. As MrsAverage has said, parents paying 25k + per year are going to expect a high level of service and facilities. The attitude where CH expect unquestioning gratitude from parents, and adopt a high-handed 'take it or leave' approach to problems is not going to be good enough. All parents (and pupils!) should be entitled to expect good communication and respect from the school: too many of us are not getting this.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Eruresto » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:32 am

As a recent leaver and as someone whose experience of CH has been solely on the receiving end of things, I do try to avoid commenting on issues of finance such as this where possible. However, this situation described here is giving me good reason to break silence.

I myself know of two instances where parents have withdrawn a child from the school on financial grounds, and I expect there are more. If this is as widespread a problem as it seems, I would wholeheartedly suggest writing to David Cooke. When appointed, he spoke to the school and unlike some members of the financial side I have met he seemed a thoroughly warm and honest man. Of course, the copy of the letter to go to the TES/other relevant newspaper would give a good incentive for a reply to be written (though I would hope it would not be needed). Good luck, whatever plan you decide on.
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Sussex » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:53 am

Sussex, presumably the school where you have decided to send your child is a day school so that the fees are not really comparable? However, it is interesting that even as a ‘two parent family with a good income’ you have been offered both a scholarship and a bursary at another good independent school. You make a very significant point about transparency, and the inclusion of different elements in the calculation of income for means testing. Assessment of income at CH has become increasingly divorced from financial reality, so that for many current as well as prospective parents the school is no longer fulfilling its stated aim of making a boarding education affordable. IMHO you are well advised to choose an alternative school where you can have a clearer picture of exactly what you are signing up to for the years ahead.
The paragraph above does sum up the current issue I think, of both transparency and giving parents the ability to plan their finances. The school we have a scholarship/bursary from is both boarding and day. The bursary cost moves in line with the fees and so the boarding place would cost little more than a day place, because as their bursar put it ' we take into account the disposable income, the whole family and ability to pay'. The fees for this independent school are fairly steep in the first instance in any case, since they, like CH have amazing facilities. The only non-comparable cost is of course the uniform, which unlike CH is not provided free of charge.

I don't really think CH can hope to attract too many full fee payers but wonder if they might concentrate on middle income families and set their fees at an affordable level. I know of several local families in similar situations to ours who have not pursued applications because of the uncertainty and unachievable fee assessment. It is difficult as another post mentioned to gauge how widespread an issue this is, but perhaps comeone on the 'official forum' can shed light on this.

However, CH is still a wonderful school and the residential assessment a very enjoyable experience.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:54 pm

Does anybody on the Board of Governors ever visit this Forum ???

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by J.R. » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:59 pm

NEILL THE NOTORIOUS wrote:Does anybody on the Board of Governors ever visit this Forum ???

I would have thought highly unlikely, and even if they did, I don't think they would admit to it publicly.
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Sussex » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:15 pm

NEILL THE NOTORIOUS wrote:
Does anybody on the Board of Governors ever visit this Forum ???
I know that members of staff visit the forum; Mr Holdsworth posted a few weeks ago on the subject of when the results of the entrance assessment could be expected. However, perhaps they have decided it is unwise to comment or perhaps they do comment but only on the 'official parents' forum.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by dinahcat » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:43 pm

Staff can only use the Official Forum if they have a child at the school and therefore have a password. The School has no influence in the matter of fees -I am sure as that part is dealt with by the Foundation since it separated from The School. I think there are still people out there who don't understand the difference. I also think it highly unlikely that any staff or members would ever comment about subjects such as the fees on here, for obvious reasons. Well, they are obvious to me anyway.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by J.R. » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:47 pm

I know that several staff members, (or people connected to), view THIS forum, and some do post.
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