It's difficult to pinpoint when things began to change.
It was probably inevitable that some sort of fixed fee system would be introduced. It was difficult for the school to keep
teachers on the low wages they were able to offer. They tried to solve it by attracting more higher income families, but higher
income families wanted a school with better facilities. So the unending round of increasing fees to pay for higher wages,
and improvements in the school began.
We were assured, at first, that those of us who had joined
the school in the early days could have special financial arrangements made if we were in difficulty. Later we were all sent
letters explaining the new sytem of a sliding scale of fees. Those on the lowest incomes would pay at the lowest
level, but if there were any problems were were to discuss them with the finance group. This we did and were told that the
older families in poor circumstances would still be allowed to pay below the minimum.
A year or two after this we were told that we had to pay
the minimum rate. We managed for a while but them accumulated some arreas. We were told not to worry, we could pay these
off whenever we could afford to. On one occasion it was clearly stated that we would be able to clear any remaining arreas
after we left the school. It seemed to us that what they were saying was, 'We can't be seen to allow you to pay less,
but we will allow you to accumulate arreas instead.' From time to time we were asked to do cleaning work at the school
and this was set against the arreas. Usually this involved cleaning the school toilets. The whole thing seemed to work very
well for both parties, since the school had a ready pool of labour for the less pleasant jobs among the parents who were in
Although we continued to accumulate some arreas over the
following few years we were given very clear messages that the school would prefer us to stay. For one thing, the school was
still not full, so if we left they would actually lose money since there were no children waiting for our children's places.
It was even said at one point that our continuing to pay off our arreas after we left would provide an extra income for the
school in the future.
Unfortunately, the fact that we were in
debt to the school made it very difficult for us to make a complaint to them when things began to go wrong.