Parent Contracts – Time for a Review?
It is always sensible to revisit and review your Parent Contracts on a regular basis to make sure that they reflect recent legal developments and changes and work as best as they can for your School. This is even more important now as we all grapple with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
One of the areas the pandemic has had an impacted on is data protection. Increasingly, more data is passing between schools and third parties. For example, instead of providing examination papers to examination boards, teachers are now looking at determining grades based on assessment that they are making themselves and then passing that information on to examination boards. Effectively, this means passing more data to third parties and this needs to be covered both in your Privacy Notices, and in your Parent Contracts, with the Privacy Notice being appended to or cross referenced in the Parent Contract.
There are also issues arising out of the need for remote learning which, albeit not as widely required now as during the first lockdown, is likely to remain part of our lives for the medium if not longer term. It is therefore important to ensure that there is flexibility embodied within your contractual arrangements with parents in the definition of the manner in which teaching is provided and the School’s ability to charge fees at the usual level even in circumstances where the term length may change and/or teaching takes place remotely.
Schools have also found that parents have been referring to the “force majeure” clause in contracts to argue that remote teaching and limitations on sports and other activities as a result of restrictions brought in because of the Coronavirus pandemic provide a basis for a refund of fees or for fees to be withheld as the School is unable to perform its obligations in the usual way. It is therefore sensible to revisit the wording of any force majeure clause and related provisions within your Parent Contract and make any required changes to reflect the exceptional circumstances that we are currently dealing with. The contract needs to be clear that the provision of teaching remotely does not constitute the School failing to meet and perform its obligations in the provision of education to pupils.
Another consideration is the impending spectre of Brexit. Although we do not yet know the exact final arrangements as we wait to see if a last minute deal is done, any provisions that relate to immigration and student visas do need to be reviewed in light of current immigration rules.
If you would like to discuss your Parent Contract or any other legal issues or would like further information about how we can assist you please do contact Andrea Tishler.