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Attendance Policy

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by SayItLikeItIs, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs New commenter

    Does anyone here operate an attendance policy? In my T&Cs, I state that students are asked to attend every week during term time. I allow one cancellation per half term at no charge, provided that no more than four lessons overall are cancelled during an academic year. I always use the word 'cancelled' when a lesson is missed for whatever reason. I attach the LA's published term dates, but am usually willing to negotiate if a student goes to school in another LA. I am also willing to be flexible, depending on the reasons for cancellation.

    My problem is, although parents of my state school students seem quite happy with this, not so the parents of my independent school students, who don't want to keep to the LA dates because their schools have longer holidays, and so they want their children to have correspondingly fewer lessons with me over the term - often because they are going away on holiday!

    I don't want to operate a two-tier system, especially when money can't be that much of a big deal if these families are off on holiday every chance they can get, but at present I am not so fully booked that I can afford to turn otherwise good students away.

    Has anyone else encountered this situation and how do you address it? Suggestions welcome!
     
  2. suzette

    suzette New commenter

    I think you need to operate 'a one size fits all' policy. If a student is booked in for a lesson and then they cancel with less than 24hrs notice, they pay. (except in the case of things like illness/or sickness). This is the policy I use. It works for me (& my clients/students) because everyone is aware of the simplistic and clear methodology of it all.

    Operating a one cancellation policy at no charge, seems to me that you're the one losing out in the long run, not to mention cash! With this type of policy, it is open to possible manipulation and confusion by some clients. After all, you can't please all of the people etc...

    The problem you may have is to implement a new system. Your current clients may not like the change, but then again I always use the beginning of term (especially after the long summer holiday) to put into place new and revised policies, rules or ideas, as it seems like a good time to roll things like this out.

    Good luck with what you decide to do and keep us updated.
     
  3. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs New commenter

    I am happy with my cancellation terms, and my students are asked to pay if they cancel with less than 24 hours notice.

    Maybe I haven't made the issue sufficiently clear. The issue is that parents of students who go to independent schools want to have a shorter tuition term as well as one cancellation per half term. I am asking them to attend all weeks during the LA term dates for state schools. So they want an exemption from my one size fits all policy. So even though they may have given me several weeks notice that they will not be attending, they are suggesting that this is not a cancellation but more that they are not booking certain lessons in the first place because, hey, they will be away on holiday.

    It seems to me that I can either be draconian about it and risk losing them, or let them have it their own way. I'd be glad of other tutors' views about this.
     
  4. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I don't have many students at independent schools but have normally just accepted them having slightly more holidays. In the same way I obviously wouldn't expect students taking GCSE or A level exams to continue after finishing their exams. Last year I only had one girl at an independent school and she had extra lessons in the holidays so the issue didn't arise.
     
  5. phatsals

    phatsals Established commenter

    I've had lots of tutees from the indy's and I always stick with their term times for them. Again, 24 hrs notice of cancellation or charge except for emergencies.

    I've also had a number of children from various faith schools. They often have different term dates or religious dates, I respect them all. It seems fair to me, it maintains good will.
     
  6. suzette

    suzette New commenter

    Yes, I understand you now. I usually stick to a student's term times, but this changes slightly if they are going to be tutoring with me during the holidays, when I can be a bit more flexible. Generally most clients are usually quite understanding of whatever policy you apply for your business. I don't think it would be draconian, if you chose to stick to your guns as clients will often understand that it's your business and you have a living to make. But if you feel they may walk because of this, then consider it as you know them better and I'm sure they won't take advantage of your understanding of the situation.
     
  7. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    I run sessions roughly as per the local council term dates and charge half termly in advance. My policy is that all cancellations are non refundable. However, I do allow up to 4 non chargeable sessions per student per academic year- the proviso is that they tell me the dates a minimum of 7 days before each half term starts.

    If they want more than 4 weeks off they have the choice of paying, accepting alternative dates or giving up their spot.

    I used to have a 24 hour cancellation policy and had exactly the same problem as you. People were expecting to not be charged for both illness and holidays. It very nearly sent me into debt and unable to pay bills.

    I now get very few cancellations and only a handful of parents use their non chargeable weeks.

    I offer anyone who cancels for illness an online session or a replacement in another cancelled session if possible but don't guarantee this.

    Any parent who doesn't want to accept these terms is told that I can't offer them a regular weekly spot as I can't afford to have it empty for more than 4 weeks of the year. If they want me to turn other people away, they have to commit to using the session.

    I always suggest they can join my ad hoc list and pick up any spare sessions (which I know about in advance because of my policy). Most parents funnily enough don't want this and therefore accept that they'll have to pay for all but 4 sessions in a year if they want a guaranteed regular slot.

    I've actually found that by being stricter and more professional and business like about it, I've had far fewer issues with payments etc.

    I also insist on every parent being on exactly the same terms in the interests of transparency and fairness. There will always be someone who thinks they are a special case for one reason or another and you can bet it will be you that covers the cost of this rather than them!
     
    suzette likes this.
  8. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    Sorry ... that was very long.

    I feel quite strongly that clients put their families first and so tutors. For me, this means offering an excellent service whilst still maintaining a stable and predictable income.
     
  9. suzette

    suzette New commenter

    I totally agree. Some years ago when I began tutoring, I found myself being to much of a 'people pleaser.' Once I became a bit more stricter surrounding issues such as this meant that although some parents would argue that they are being hard done by the fact that I stated clearly my policies etc, meant fairness and a more business-like approach.
     
  10. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    I think as classroom teachers, we are used to having to put up with a lot of crappy behaviour with a smile on our faces. If you do that in the business world, you lose out and get taken advantage of so I realised i had to either toughen up pretty quick or go back to a salaried job.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  11. Joseph.John

    Joseph.John New commenter

    and so all you
    If I were you, I would accept the fact that some parents may want to shorten the Tuition term and so all you need to do is to find another student to fill the gap or offer more time to another of your students who may be looking to book an extra lesson with you. Occasionally I have students who only book lessons in holidays and not during term time and others will break off lessons 2-3 weeks before the end of term. I will always work around what the client wants. I always like to appear to the client that I can manage irrespective of how many lessons they are booking. It is your responsibility to keep your own timetable full and you should be always on the look out for new students , taking on queries from future prospective clients so that they can get a booking during periods where another student wants a break.
     
  12. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs New commenter

    I assume this last comment is either a wind-up or meant ironically?
     

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