Couple win court case over unpaid school fees

Helen & Chris MacPherson

Helen & Chris MacPherson

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A Sheffield couple have won a long-running legal battle against one of the city’s leading independent schools - which was claiming £1,800 in unpaid fees.

The dispute between Helen and Chris MacPherson and Ashdell Preparatory School was eventually settled in the county court after over two and a half years of argument.

The couple from Sandygate Road in Crosspool had sent their daughters Megan and Hannah to the Broomhill school, paying £2,420 a term for each youngster.

But the pair’s property development and letting business ran into financial trouble after the 2008 economic crash.

The school gave them financial support through a £1,000 a year bursary and agreed other debts could be repaid later.

But Helen said relations soured in late 2010 when it seemed the school itself was having difficulties.

“They became very aggressive and wanted their money back straight away - if not they’d kick the girls out at the end of term,” she said.

After both sides failed to reach agreement, the girls left Ashdell and were sent instead to the Lydgate schools.

But the school then sought to recover money it said the couple owed for the rest of the term after the girls had left.

The court ruled in favour of the family saying the school had breached its previous financial agreement and the family had a right to find the girls alternative education.

Chair of governors Ian Walker said the judge had found a lack of clarity in communications with the MacPhersons.

“As a charity we have a duty of care to pursue unpaid debts. We did all we could to keep the girls in school,” he added.