UK Private Schools Request to Bankrupt Parents over Unpaid Fees

November 13, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. bankruptcy / ˈbæŋk rʌpt si / (n.) – the state of not having enough money to pay one’s debt
Example: I transferred to a public school after my parents declared bankruptcy.

2. overdue / ˌoʊ vərˈdu / (adj.) – not paid on time
Example: His debt is long overdue.

3. chase / tʃeɪs / (v.) – to pursue or to follow
Example: The debt collectors have been chasing my neighbor for months now.

4. asset / ˈæs ɛt / (n.) – property
Example: Some of our family’s assets include our house and our car.

5. up front / ˈʌpˈfrʌnt / (adv.) – in advance
Example: Her parents cannot pay her tuition up front.


Read the text below.
Some parents in the United Kingdom are facing bankruptcy after facing legal action from private schools over unpaid school fees.

The company Cognita, which handles around 30 schools in the United Kingdom, took some parents to court to force them to pay school fees that are already overdue. Cognita started taking this measure in 2012. Since then, nearly 70 parents have become bankrupt after being chased by Cognita.

According to Cognita, the company takes legal action against parents only when they cannot pay even after several efforts done by the company. Cognita takes parents to court in order to petition for their bankruptcy. Should the court decide to bankrupt a parent, Cognita will be allowed to take and sell his or her assets as payment for the debt.

Many parents, however, complain about how private schools collect payment, with some saying that they were pressured by the schools’ debt collection procedures. A general secretary from an independent school association also mentioned that some schools threaten to remove a child if their parents could not pay school fees on time.

This situation is not happening only in the United Kingdom. Parents in Australia are also being chased by private schools over unpaid school fees. For instance, private school Eltham College in Australia recently won a bankruptcy battle against Rachel Rodda, a mother who could not pay her debt of more than five thousand Australian dollars up front. Eltham also took 17 other families to court due to unpaid debt.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of Cognita’s legal action against parents who cannot pay school fees?
·         What can parents do to ensure that they can pay school fees on time?

Discussion B

·         Which do you prefer, a private or public school? Explain your answer.
·         Why do you think some parents prefer private schools for their children?

November 13, 2015