Private school fee fraud?

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ConfusedMom
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Private school fee fraud?

Postby ConfusedMom » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:58 am

Hi Everyone
I'm a regular user but have re-registered under another name for obvious reasons.

My eldest is just about to start a local state secondary school and it's OK, not brilliant, but it's OK.

I've just discovered that a close friend of mine, who husband is self-employed, has fixed their income so that they come under the threshold for a bursary, it's about 30k or 50k per annum I think, so their son is off to a local independent school.

Our children played together, went to the same school together and now I fund he is on a different "path" because of someone's dishonesty.

I'm finding this really hard to cope with. I know it's not the end of the world and to I know that hundreds of people leave my son's school-to-be happy and qualified for the world ahead but I also know in my heart it's not the same.

I'm actually considering reporting them for fraud but I know I won't, in my heart, that would be an awful thing to do andI think would poison me more.

Surely schools must have robust checks in place so that this can't happen? I just can't believe it's that easy to "steal" an education worth six figures and it seems so unfair.

Sorry for rant but I have to get this off my chest.
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evieandrose
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby evieandrose » Sun Aug 31, 2014 11:17 am

OMG this is awful.

No wonder you feel upset.

Not only is this dishonest, it is effectively stealing a bursary place from a child whose parents genuinely do earn under the threshold.

It is completely unacceptable behaviour, and also, I'm no lawyer, but surely against the law? If he is declaring his income to HMRC as one thing, but earning another, much higher amount, he won't be paying enough tax which is fraud in itself, school issue aside.

How did you find out? Was your friend openly telling you?! It's beyond belief IMO. Of course we all want the best for our kids-but this is way, way beyond what is acceptable.

I would think long and hard but I would personally report them I think. When the school eventually find out (and I'm sure they will!) the child will have to leave and therefore disrupt his education, so you will be doing him a favour, really.

I honestly couldn't believe what I was reading. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
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gruffalo's dad
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby gruffalo's dad » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:31 pm

I would not do anything.

You say that your friend's husband who is self-employed has "fixed his income" so that he comes under the threshold for a bursary. The nature of self-employment is that it is relatively easy to reduce one's income in a particular year or two and just live off savings.

Where I come from in Ireland grants for university students for three/four years are based on parental income in the year before they go to university. It's a national scandal that it the children of well-off farmers and self-employed who can adjust their income are more likely to get a grant than someone on a low-mid level salary.

It would be sensible for an independent school to have measures to deal with this when awarding bursaries and in my experience many of them take into account parental wealth or income over multiple years and not just one year's income. It's not obvious from what you posted that your friend and her husband have committed any fraud. It would only be fraud if the income earned in the relevant year was not the income reported to HMRC or the school.

From what you write, it doesn't seem that your friend's son losing his bursary will benefit you or your eldest in any case.

I can understand why you are unhappy. However, unfortunately, I think this is a case of life's unfairness that you cannot do anything about.
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juliantenniscoach
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby juliantenniscoach » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:33 pm

It was my understanding that bursary's now are much, much lower than in previous years but the schools offer them to more people? Are you saying the amount of money involved represents the difference between sending your son to the state or this independent school? If that's the case then perhaps you might consider writing to the school bursar to determine their criteria for awarding and verifying assistance.

If not then let it go. I know it's (obviously) wound you up but try, (easier said than done) and concentrate on the issues than effect you directly rather than the ones you don't. Good luck with it.
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CBW7779
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby CBW7779 » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:02 pm

Hi, a very interesting post and responses. This would totally get to me too but as others and you have said, I think you need to let this go in terms of doing anything about it with the school, mainly for your own sake, but the other issue is the extent to which you are prepared to let it affect your friendship and the children's' friendship. Moral differences of opinion are something I find so hard to get past but I guess everyone measures things differently and the imperative to do "the best for our kids" is incredibly strong. I do wonder to what extent the truth, or other parents' suspicions about the truth/gossip, will adversely affect the child at the fee paying school...
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ConfusedMom
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby ConfusedMom » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:26 pm

thank you for the responses, I feel better already :-)

I found out because we share pretty much everything and I aware enough of their finances through the years of doing so much together that they didn't have the spare cash.

We also get on well enough so that I was able to ask outright and thats when it got very awkward.

From my understanding they had to fill in a lot of forms to run through income and questions were also asked about how they managed to buy their house.

They ended up agreeing to pretend that her parents had contributed the deposit for their house (her parents had to put that in writing).

I won't go into more details but if it was finding a few extra pounds worth of expenses to lower income then I could accept that it's something "everyone does" but its much more premeditated than that and that's what I'm struggling with.

Bascially I don't think we can be friends if this is their moral compass
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JennyRowling
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby JennyRowling » Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:41 am

I agree with petal. The boy's school will decide if they should accept him on these terms, and even if they do, no matter how unfair it seems, you're not looking at this matter objectively, because you're not there. You're just a bystander. There might be something you don't know about the family, people don't share everything with their friends.

You're right about being honest, but this is one thing you should keep to yourself and not say it out loud. Morality says honesty before everything else, but sociology says, when you put honesty before friendship, you're pretty much a traitor.
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mummy in cj
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby mummy in cj » Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:55 am

I'm a self-employed company director and have been for 8 years. There are upsides and downsides of this financially.

The biggest upside is that you can decide how much to pay yourself in any given year and therefore (if you choose in any given year), pay yourself for example under the higher rate tax threshold.

The downsides are that you get no pay if you are sick, go on holiday or go on maternity (other than statutory minimum which doesn't go very far).

Also banks don't understand self-employed people at all. When you get a mortgage they insist on only counting the income you have paid yourself rather than your business profits. This really reduces the loan you can take out.

If this couple have chosen to pay themselves less for the duration of the time their child attends this private school, then this will mean they have less money for that time. This is not fraud. It may save them in school fees but it will mean they have less money for everything else too.

Perhaps when you are feeling jealous about their school fee saving, you might feel less jealous when you remember the lack of sick, holiday etc pay and that they are living on less money now. The grass is always greener!
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rugby
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby rugby » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:49 am

Probably not fraud in a criminal sense, legal adjustment of numbers.

Moral fraud for certain, we have had similar disquiet.

A lot of this goes on
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MatSnow
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby MatSnow » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:02 am

I attended perhaps the very best private school in Britain, Westminster, and while I learned a lot, made lifelong friends, and did not have my innate enthusiasm for learning knocked or ground out of me, an even more valuable education followed after I left.

It was an education in respect and interest in people and modes of living outside the bubble in which I grew up. And an education in humility (there are people brighter and more capable than me who didn't have private education!) and reality (the rewards of the world go to talent and hard work first, the 'right background' a very distant second).

So don't worry about whether the child finagled into a private school may have an unfair advantage over yours in a state school (where mine goes); it could just be that your child is the lucky one.
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chattymama
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby chattymama » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:19 am

The purpose of bursaries is to provide a 'high quality' education to a bright child that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.

Your friends, through their actions, have directly deprived another, more deserving child, of a place. (Even if they have put themselves 'technically' below the threshold for the entry year, that's them abiding only by the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law. Besides, other aspects of their application, such as asking their parents to lie about how their house was funded, are both immoral and illegal).

Personally I would write to the school and say that you know for a fact that one of the parents have provided a fraudulent application, but that you'd prefer for them to have the opportunity to graciously withdraw from the process. The school should call all the new bursary parents in, tell them that they know that there is a fraudulent application, and if the parents don't come forward willingly, they will investigate. (They may also wish to give a profile of the child/family who WOULD have had the place, so they can see the 'human cost' of their actions).

If they withdraw their application, I suspect you can salvage your friendship, as they'll eventually have done the right thing. If not, I don't think you can be friends, knowing what you know.

Finally - remember that this has nothing to do with your own child (except that it has made you more aware of the difference). Your DS is going to his school and nothing will change that.

But I'll second the previous poster's comments re state vs private. Don't get too hung up on your son 'losing out' by going to state school. All my uni housemates went to 'ok' state schools and have done exceptionally well (I mean EXCEPTIONALLY) well in their careers. While private schools are, on the whole, excellent, don't underestimate the value of a loving, supportive home (where education is highly valued), where as a child you're brought up to work hard and believe you can achieve anything. It's THIS that got all my housemates so far (all their parents are awesome).

DH and I have done a lot of school-leaver and graduate hiring in our time and, as long as their grades are 'good enough', it's the candidates with sparkling personalities, confidence and a 'can-do' attitude that get the job. (Re academic performance - if you can afford to put aside £50 a month from now on, that money will go a fair way towards extra tutoring at A-level stage, should your DS need it).

Good luck. It would have been far better if you had never known.
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Florenceml
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby Florenceml » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:26 am

I'm sorry but I think this sounds like jealousy.
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rugby
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby rugby » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:39 am

Confusedmom

You aren't confused at all - your Moral Compass has good sense.

Your friends have artificially adjusted their income to obtain a bursary and no doubt made a statement as to need for the money - WRONG

Those who say it would be socially unnacceptable to spread rumours or try and report this are right - BUT this doesn't make the act right

Those who say you have in some way got it wrong need to have their moral compasses adjusted. In 21st Century Britain it is hard to stay on the right track, so many are being led into bad thought processes.

Have confidence in your moral compass - it's a good one!
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AbbevilleMummy
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby AbbevilleMummy » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:49 am

I guess I would understand your outrage more if your son was actually going to attend the private school and therefore you were having to pay the full fee but your friends didn't have to.

But as you're not going to that school anyway I don't really understand the outrage. How one family wants to conduct their finances is up to them I guess.

My husband had a very wealthy friend at school who was on a full means tested scholarship, so obviously some form fiddling went on there! He was ridiculed at school for it (and it came up in the best man's speech at his wedding I think!) but I don't think anyone actually bore a grudge about it.
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hellokittyerw
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Re: Private school fee fraud?

Postby hellokittyerw » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:01 am

You are just envious.
Whether they did a fraud or not, it will not change where your son goes to school.
So then why waste your time wallowing in envy??!!
Instead you should focus on your son and his education. We all know many examples of people who went to state schools and are doing exceptionally well, and also many example of people who went to very good private schools and are not doing that well...
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