Leavers and fees

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Fjgrogan
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Fjgrogan » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:59 pm

Not only are children having to be taken out of school for financial reasons, but there are also children who have been offered a place which has then been turned down by the parents because there is no longer any guarantee that their child's place in the school will be secure for the duration of their school career. So as a marketing ploy aimed at bringing in a wider cross section of society, the Foundation are failing. (or should that be 'is'? Pedant alert!) They really need to decide whether they are in the business of education or making money for the Foundation. Wherever parents fall on the financial scale, when they make a decision about their child's education at the age of 11, they need to know that it is valid for the next seven years. However bright or talented a child is, he or she is bound be adversely affected by having to switch schools at short notice during that period, particularly if at the same time the parents are having to face potential litigation as the Foundation tries to claim a term's fees in lieu of notice, which the family almost by definition cannot afford, as well as being faced with the expense of providing uniform etc for the new school.
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by LJG » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:44 pm

I am concerned the views expressed on this forum could in any way deter parents from sending children to CH, which offers a life changing opportunity for children from underpriveleged backgrounds. The parents of those children, and I am one would find it hard to consider alternative independent education for a variety of reasons. Their views are rarely represented on this or the "official" forum.

Genuine changes in circumstances I have no reason to doubt ,and in my own case experienced at first hand, would be met with consideration by the foundation. There is some scaremongering going on here, and the views are not necessarily the views/experiences of the silent majority of parents/carers/guardians who do not contribute to this or the 'official' forum. Rather, a very small, if vocal minority of parents who for their own reasons have issues with their own financial assessment.

There are over 800 children at the school, and whilst I have not counted up exactly how many have contribute to this and the "official" site, I would suggest it is a very small percentage of the whole. The school publishes its accounts every year on the school website if parents wish to see where the money goes. The statistics are there for all to see.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Fjgrogan » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:07 pm

True, but the issue here is not really where the money goes, but what criteria are used to assess the parental contribution. It seems that huge changes are being made to the amount assessed without commensurate changes in the income of some parents, and without any sense of accountability to those who are actually expected to pay the fees. In a sense there is no problem for those who are genuinely on a low income, or for those who can afford the full fees; it is those in the middle who are being squeezed. I have no personal axe to grind here; I and my children have already been through the system and survived reasonably intact, but it would be nice to know that my grandchildren would be able to enjoy the same privileges in the future, if that is what their parents wish; at the moment I fear that may not be possible, not because their parents' income is too high (it is certainly not), but the Foundation seems to be in danger of pricing itself out of existence. I am sure that neither Bishop Ridley nor Edward VI envisaged that in years to come we would all be bickering over money; those whom they sought to serve had none. The primary qualification for admission to the Religious, Royal and Ancient Foundation of Christ's Hospital has always been NEED, of one kind or another. We seem to be forgetting that!
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by LJG » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:28 pm

As far as I can determine it is only a small, by CH terms, vocal minority who take issue with the way the fees are assessed. Yes those 'middle income' families I suspect. I too was hard hit when they excluded pension contributions. Mine is an NHS one, taken at source and I have no choice in the matter. However, excluding it for all does deter those parents who put income into pension funds for the sole purpose of 'losing' it for financial assessment. Yes I did find it hard, but necessary given the reason why, and I am the one after all who will enjoy the benefits of it when I retire.
Yes my fees have gone up over the years, but so have all things. Are people really naive enough to think their fees will remain the same for the 5/7 years their child is at CH - I think not. CH has still been the best investment I could make in my childs future.
I will not be contributing to this post anymore, but it is my experience, and that of my child's peers, fellow housemates etc, that most children who 'need' a place at CH seem to keep one, with very few children leaving before the end of GCSE's for financial reasons. I am stating this from personal knowledge not hearsay or rumour. Quite a few always leave after GCSE's for lots of reasons, not just financial. The difference now is the replacements are as likely to pay full fees as on a sliding scale. It will be interesting to see what, if any effect, the more open access at Yr 9 and Yr 11 will have on the school. Little I suspect, and hope in the long term.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by MaryB » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:49 pm

I haven't contributed to this thread before because I haven't felt I had a personal basis for doing so, and we are indeed a very small minority on this forum. However, I know two children currently at CH in very different circumstances - one the child of affluent middle class parents and one from a struggling single parent family. Neither family contributes to this or any other forum, but both have experienced deep frustration with the lack of communication on fees and the significant increases. The better off family are taking their child away, after 2 years, for a number of reasons, of which the unpredictability of the financial commitment is an important one (though it might not have been enough on its own). The other child may well have to leave after GCSE unless additional financial help is forthcoming, despite being exactly the kind of person the school should be helping. And his parent will not be making a fuss because she has been somewhat intimidated by responses in the past.
I recognise that this is a sample of two out of 800, but it does indicate that the silence of the majority does not necessarily indicate satisfaction.
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by ailurophile » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:45 pm

LGJ wrote
Yes my fees have gone up over the years, but so have all things. Are people really naive enough to think their fees will remain the same for the 5/7 years their child is at CH - I think not.
I'm sure no-one would expect their fees to remain the same for 5-7 years, unless of course their income and the cost of living also remained static. You are of course right that all things have gone up. However, because the assessed fees have risen in such disproportion to income there is one thing that has not gone up for my own family: the residual amount we are left with to live on once the fees have been paid! For us this is now actually less than it was when our son started at CH in 2005, and this is simply unsustainable.

Is the Foundation really naive enough to think our cost of living will remain the same for the 5/7 years our child is at CH - it would appear so!

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by ailurophile » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:28 pm

While I think about it, and I'm aware that I'm repeating myself again here, I also think that it is naive of the Foundation to assume that a couple can live on the same disposable income as a single parent. The old adage that two can live as cheaply as one is sadly untrue - I know, we've been trying for five years!

I presume that the Foundation comprises members with some specific financial expertise; with respect then, it should not be hard for them to recognise that in real terms it can actually be harder for an 'affluent' couple to afford school fees of £12000 a year than for a struggling single parent to afford £3000.

I really hope that families like my own are in a minority - I wouldn't wish our current situation on anyone else - but I don't believe that means our children's interests shouldn't count.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by anniexf » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:42 pm

ailurophile wrote:While I think about it, and I'm aware that I'm repeating myself again here, I also think that it is naive of the Foundation to assume that a couple can live on the same disposable income as a single parent. The old adage that two can live as cheaply as one is sadly untrue - I know, we've been trying for five years!

I presume that the Foundation comprises members with some specific financial expertise; with respect then, it should not be hard for them to recognise that in real terms it can actually be harder for an 'affluent' couple to afford school fees of £12000 a year than for a struggling single parent to afford £3000.
Sorry, ailurophile, but pointing at single parents isn't going to help your cause, and whereas I had considerable sympathy for your predicament until now, as a former full-time working single parent I'm beginning to feel a degree of nausea at your attitude.
What do you know about the costs of single-parenthood? The outgoings for utilities etc. are comparable, & childcare costs as much as a two-parent family pays out of two incomes. As far as I can see, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the only extra costs for a two-parent family are food and clothing for the additional adult. And didn't someone say somewhere (you?) that there is, in fact, a small difference between the disposable income calculated by the Foundation as adequate for a two-parent family and that for a single-parent one - in favour of the former?

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by J.R. » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:05 pm

The more I read this thread, the angrier I get !!!!
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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by KenHo » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:12 pm

I can see all sorts of problems with the way that the money is currently worked out. However, aside from minor tweaks, it is difficult to see how things can be much different without making the whole thing so complex it is unworkable.

Every time anyone brings up a problem with the way fees are calculated, I can see that any possible fix to this will either disadvantage someone else, result in a loophole, or cause much more paperwork.

Take, for example, the problem with compulsory pensions being taken into account. If compulsory pensions are an allowable expense, but optional pensions aren't then this isn't fair, so it would have to be that all types of pension are taken into account. This then leads to people being able to pay as much as they can into a pension and avoid school fees. It would, in the extreme case, be possible for someone approaching retirement to pay a large proportion of their salary into a pension and then take out a cash sum on retirement, just as their child is leaving school.

In my own case I have another child with a scholarship/bursary at another school, but we still pay towards them, and this money isn't taken into account. But what is the alternative? If the school was to allow all other school fees then someone could spend all their money at another school and then expect CH to educate the next child free, only because they are broke paying for the first few children to attend Eton.

There are also problems with earnings and expenses. One person could have a job where they work next door to their house, and another could earn the same income but have to travel 50 miles by car every day. ideally the one who has to own a car would get some allowance as their net income is really smaller. But how can the trust cope with such complexities? They would have to get everyone to itemise all their work related expenses, and then they would have parents who think a brand new BMW is essential to get to work, whereas another parent struggles on the bus every day.

It also seems like common sense to me that a single parent will spend slightly less money than a two parent family, yet another poster points out that this might not be the case. If I was devising the rules I might make an allowance for the additional adult, but maybe then this would be unfair to families with a granny living with them. Having a granny in the family might then open another can of worms if that person contributes towards the rent.

It seems to me that the more things that are taken into account then the more complex it all gets and the harder to administer fairly.

That doesn't mean that they shouldn't behave in a more charitable and reasonable way once people are in genuine difficulty because of that system, nor that they shouldn't think of imaginative ways that the school can still get the amounts accessed and the child remain at the school, for example by spreading it over further years.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by ailurophile » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:06 pm

Anniexf I’m really sorry if I’ve upset you, and I certainly didn’t mean to ‘point the finger’ at single parents, with whom I have every sympathy.

However, I don’t believe that I did suggest that there is "a small difference between the disposable income calculated by the Foundation as adequate for a two-parent family and that for a single-parent one - in favour of the former". And I must take issue with your point that "the only extra costs for a two-parent family are food and clothing for the additional adult" (in themselves not inconsiderable!) – there are many other essential costs involved in day to day living.

To put this in perspective, the Rowntree Foundation, which undertakes extensive research into poverty-related issues, currently indicate that “in order to maintain a minimum, socially acceptable quality of life in April 2009 a couple with two children needs £389 per week; and a lone parent with one child needs £221. These amounts are after income tax, and do not include housing or childcare costs”. As far as I can tell (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong), the CH assessment makes no allowance for this differential, so a couple with a joint income of say £35000 and a single parent with the same income will be liable to pay exactly the same fees. Without wishing any disrespect to single parents, I still believe that the couple would find a CH education more difficult to afford.

KenHo has made some very valuable points about the complexity of the system, I accept that it is almost impossible to be equally fair to everyone! However I’ve long felt that what the Foundation could do to address some of the current anomalies is to set a ‘baseline’ cost of living for different family units and ensure that once the standard allowable deductions have been made the assessed fees would not then take the family’s disposable income below this. Perhaps they simply need to start the assessment from the other end, and think not about what they can reasonably take, but what they should reasonably leave!

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by KenHo » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:20 pm

ailurophile wrote: However I’ve long felt that what the Foundation could do to address some of the current anomalies is to set a ‘baseline’ cost of living for different family units
But what would the standard units be?

As much as I might like to think that people are either married or single, there are now all sorts of permutations. What about a single parent who has a boyfriend who works away during the week and comes home at weekends? If I am married and have to work away at weekends to make a living then all those expenses are just my own problem. If I was living in sin (yes I still call it that, usually to hoots of derision!) then I might claim that my "partner" and I are apart and then not contribute. What about extended families with unmarried single parents but other family members in the same house who are working? What about a grown up sibling who gives a single parent a contribution to the housekeeping, are they now a two parent family?

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by anniexf » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:12 pm

ailurophile wrote:Anniexf I’m really sorry if I’ve upset you, and I certainly didn’t mean to ‘point the finger’ at single parents, with whom I have every sympathy.
No, I'm not upset ailurophile, but am sorry for the harshness of my reaction. Your comments touched a nerve that I hadn't realised was still exposed after all these years. I recalled the Additional Personal Allowance that was given to working single parents, in the 70s I think, in the calculation of income tax - it was brought in specifically to help us with the costs of working & bringing up children alone, presumably the childcare aspect mainly. It gave us the equivalent of the married couple's tax allowance. We were also given a non-taxable addition to Child Benefit, called One-Parent Benefit. I've no idea if these extras still exist.
The hardest years were actually when my daughter went to university. I was assessed for her first year by my Local Authority on my previous year's income, which included Child Benefit, the aforementioned OPB, and maintenance payments, all of which had recently ended. Furthermore no allowance was made for my rent (I lived in a Housing Association flat at the time), whereas people with mortgages had an amount deducted for mortgage interest. So I ended up being assessed as able to pay half of the full grant - which was a lot! Fortunately my ex-husband offered to continue his maintenance payments directly to our daughter as a "gift", which helped her; but I still had to find my contribution out of a reduced income.
So ailurophile I do understand, and sympathise with, the frightfulness of your situation. On the other hand I know of a family with 2 children at CH who are so determined to see them through that they're quite prepared to live on baked beans if that's what it takes!
It should never come to that of course, if the Foundation's way of assessing income were realistic.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:57 pm

Perhaps all this bother has occurred, due to the removal of the "Glass Ceiling" on Parents' income.

I know I sound, and am, an Old Fogey BUT --- what has happened to the Ethos of providing Clothing, Board and Education for the LESS well-off children of our Society ?

Yes, of course, that "Ceiling" will change over the years, as most(?) Parents are more affluent than they were 30, 40, 60, years ago ---- but we seem to have gone from a Charity to a Business, and I am troubled.

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Re: Leavers and fees

Post by Mid A 15 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:00 pm

NEILL THE NOTORIOUS wrote:Perhaps all this bother has occurred, due to the removal of the "Glass Ceiling" on Parents' income.
I know I sound, and am, an Old Fogey BUT --- what has happened to the Ethos of providing Clothing, Board and Education for the LESS well-off children of our Society ?

Yes, of course, that "Ceiling" will change over the years, as most(?) Parents are more affluent than they were 30, 40, 60, years ago ---- but we seem to have gone from a Charity to a Business, and I am troubled.
That's a valid point Neill but what if a child qualifies to be admitted on "glass ceiling grounds" at 11 but family fortunes improve in the meantime. Should the child be made to leave at (say) 15 because his /her parents earn too much?
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