Employing 1-1 Support funded by family (independent school)

Hi everyone! I have recently started working in an independent prep school. Just discovered this forum and have been reading lots of helpful posts! Hoping someone can advise or share what their school does. We have a situation where we have two existing employees who have a named pupil that they support in the classroom (named in their contract). The parents of those two pupils reimburse us for the salary of the 1-1 support person. We are about to take on a third employee on similar contract. However I don't think the school has previously considered wider implications (I'm the first HR Manager they've ever had) e.g. if the employee goes off sick or parental leave, the family still have to pay their salary. If the named pupil is not in school (e.g. absent for medical reasons) they still have to pay the salary (and we would probably use that resource to support the classroom more widely in a TA type capacity). I think we've just been lucky none of these scenarios have come up with the existing two. But I want to get the third one right (and review the first two). Anyone have experience or guidance on this?! Thanks!

  • Hello Alicia, you're right to think about the wider implications. Using the resource in a wider TA capacity sounds like a better use of their time, especially if the student is off sick. Do you think the parents paying for the salary would be OK if you did that? Perhaps it's worth having a chat with someone on our member helpline if you haven't already done so: www.cipd.org/.../
  • Hi Alicia,

    We've had this situation recently, and have managed it so far by using long-term agency staff rather than employing the staff directly. When we were looking to employ directly, my recommendation to the Head was to contribute a proportion of the costs ourselves, so that we could also use the individual for those days where the pupil is off, or for duties etc. There can often be a high correlation between pupils who need additional support and an underlying health need, so it's sensible to plan for arrangements during pupil absence pragmatically.

    Finally, you also need to think about what happens to that staff member as and when the pupil leaves the school, and have an acknowledged exit plan (or redeployment plan) so that nothing comes as a shock when that time comes.

    Good luck,

  • You need to make sure you understand the contractual agreement with the parents.

    In practice, what they're doing here is buying an additional service alongside their normal school fees and you should think of it in those terms. The school's employment of a dedicated staff member for one-to-one support for the pupil is a measure taken to meet the contractual obligations to the parents.

    Now we can begin to unpick your questions. If one of these staff members is absent or sick, the school's contractual obligations to the parents remain and they will have to take whatever steps are reasonable to meet those obligations, such as engaging an agency replacement or employing another staff member to cover those duties. Similarly, should the number of students needing one-to-one support fall and one or more of these staff members be at risk of redundancy, the costs of making them redundant will fall on the school.

    Consequently, the school needs to set the fees for the provision of one-to-one support accordingly, covering not only the cost of the employee's salary but also a margin to cover the costs of their pensions, NI, resources, expenses, sickness absence and other costs of employment. I have always used a +30% margin as a useful planning figure, although your mileage may vary.

    TL;DR - The parents are customers, paying a fee for a service. You provide the service and then carry the costs of provision. Set the fee adequately to cover the costs of the service plus whatever profit you need.