Term three means 2024 enrolments: is it time to update your enrolment agreement?

We’ve heard a lot about payroll tax and school fees from the media recently. For schools affected, there will have been much deliberation as to how to meet this new financial burden.

As you head into budget meetings, consider whether your enrolment documents need any tweaks to be approved at that meeting too.

Here is what we’ve seen trending in this space:

  • Requests for financial accommodation: if you agree to payment plans, ensure these are in writing, have an end date and contain clear consequences for breach. Sometimes, these plans legally override the enrolment agreement and the school has only watered-down terms to rely on.
  • Allegations on departure to seek to avoid payment: if you part ways with a family, then ensure that reasons are documented and that any support plans are up-to-date. Make sure your enrolment documents (and any marketing materials!!) do not promise or imply a particular outcome or level of achievement.
  • Challenging notice periods: if you charge one term’s fees in notice, ensure you give sufficient notice in term week and avoid any “unfair” contract terms (under the consumer law) which could be argued were not binding.

Lastly, if you are rolling out new terms and conditions, to avoid the tyranny of multiple versions or version uncertainty, ensure your process is legally enforceable. A mere letter update may not be enough if your terms do not allow you to update in this way. Beware – relying on parents opting “out” of new terms and conditions is often legally invalid.

How can schools make sense of this? Most importantly, how can schools ensure their enrolment agreements are strong contracts that establish a good relationship between parents and the school, in turn better supporting education of our young people and avoiding disputes?

Here are our recommendations

Consider updating your enrolment agreement, and specifically:

  1. Know what terms and conditions students and parents are subject to.
  2. Think about your notice requirements for withdrawal. Read more about the ACT ACAT decision here, or watch our webinar for free.
  3. Make sure your enrolment agreements are easy to understand for your community to ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.
  4. With privacy in the spotlight, check what collection processes are in place for waitlists and enrolment.

Why does this matter?

  • The enrolment agreement is the legal basis for the provision of services by your school. It is how to guarantee recovery of fees.
  • It is a complicated contract. It is not a simple payment of money in exchange for an item. Enrolment can continue for 13 years.

The current economic conditions are seeing increasing preparedness to challenge documents, and to involve lawyers in these matters on behalf of parents.

How can we help

Get in contact with our Education Team to discuss how we can help you refresh your enrolment documents or enrolment process to address these emerging challenges.

Contact us

Please contact us for more detailed and tailored help.

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Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek legal advice regarding the application of the law to your organisation.