By 2000 we had accumulated about £700 in arreas. The school
had promised that these would remain frozen to be paid when we could afford it or if need be after we left.
Unfortunately the academic year 2000/1 was a difficult time
for us. There was a fuel stike and a lot of serious floods in the autumn of 2000, and these affected my husband's business
badly. Then in the spring of 2001 there was the foot and mouth epidemic which cost my eldest son his job. We began to get
behind with our contributions.
In the spring term we made an appointment to go to the school
to discuss our financial position. By this time, my husband's business was getting back on its feet and we were going to say
we would borrow to bring that year's contribution up to date.
When I arrived at the school I saw one of the teachers who
had always been a friend of ours. I greeted him with a smile and immediately realised that something was wrong by his response.
He was very subdued. He took us to the meeting room. We were surprised to see the chairman of the school council there as
we had thought this was an ordinary finance meeting. There was also a member of the finance group.
From the moment the meeting began we were given little
chance to explain our reasons for having accumulated more arreas, or to say what we had planned to offer. Right away we were
told that the school wanted the whole of our debt by the beginning of the next term. This was three days before the end of
the spring term.
We were asked if we could borrow the money from
relatives or friends. We explained that we had no relatives apart from my husband's mother who is a pensioner, and no friends
who were in a position to lend to us. We were then told that we should remortgage our house.
We were asked to borrrow not just enough to pay our arreas,
but an amount that would cover the fees until Richard left the school.
We were then given a lecture about not coming to workdays
and fundraising events. We had supported almost all of the major fundraising events during our time at the school but had
missed two recent ones because we had not at that time had a car to get to them. My husband works on Saturdays so was unable
to go to the workdays but an arrangement had been agreed that he would clean the school windows instead. I was unable to do
workdays because of poor health and the school was aware of this.
Before we left the meeting, it was made clear to us that even
if we took Richard from the school, the whole of the debt had to be paid immediately or court action would follow.
I remember leaving that room in total shock. We had been
allowed to run up these arreas with the agreement of the school. We had been told we could pay them off after we left.
Now they were threatening court action to retrieve the whole amount immediately.
This was a community we had belonged to for seventeen years.
These were our friends. Why on earth were they suddenly treating us like this?