Since covid and the discovery of the potential for online teaching, it is worth clarifying policy over missed lessons, as some parents think that missed lessons can now been made up on Zoom.
When signing up for lessons, you are essentially buying half an hour of my time in school at a predetermined time. This needs to be paid for regardless of whether the pupil attends the lesson. This principle applies in numerous contexts: ballet classes, swimming lessons, private medical appointments, driving lessons and, of course, with school fees. I don’t think anyone would expect a swimming teacher to make up a missed lesson in their own time; nor would you expect your child’s class teacher to give a catch-up zoom lesson if your child is off school sick.
I attend school whether pupils are there or not and it is unreasonable to expect me to reserve an additional lesson slot for each pupil after school or at weekends. Unlike a dentist, who can offer a last-minute appointment to another patient in the case of a cancellation (despite charging for the missed appointment), I can not fill a missed lesson slot with another pupil: each slot is reserved for a specific individual. If I am to be expected to make up missed lessons, I could, hypothetically, be required to make up 50 lessons in my own time, having had an unpaid week attending schools.
Lessons missed without a week’s notice will be forfeited regardless of the reason.
In case of a known absence not related to a school event, and with at least a week’s notice being given, it may be possible to reschedule the lesson, though in reality this is unlikely as I only visit all my schools once a week. However, I may be able to swap lesson times to an afternoon, for example, it the pupil has a doctor’s appointment in the morning. If a pupil is off school but available for an online lesson at their allotted time, I am always happy to give the lesson. If it proves impossible to reschedule during normal school time, the lesson will be forfeited. Please do not expect it to be made up during a weekend, evening or holiday.
In case of a school trip, match or other event, the lesson will be made up or refunded, provided that a week’s notice has been given. Please note that I need notice from parents even if the event is in the school calendar. I am not employed by the school and therefore do not attend staff briefings and may not receive internal staff emails about school events. Often information about trips or matches is vague – sometimes it only applies to certain pupils (eg those selected for a sports match). Although schools do their best to keep music teachers informed, I do not always get the full picture, and it is hard to keep track of events across multiple schools (I teach 50 pupils across 8 schools and colleges). Parents always have the fullest picture of their children’s activities and I rely solely on this information.
Lessons missed when pupils are in school:
Ultimately it is the pupil’s responsibility to remember their lesson time.
I expect year 7 and above pupils to remember their lesson times and will not try to find them. In schools where I have access to the school Teams account, I will send a message, but if they forget their lesson, it will be forfeited.
At year 6 and below, pupils should still be mature enough to remember their lesson time, but I will try to find pupils if they forget. Lessons will be forfeited in the following circumstances:
- A pupil may not be in their usual classroom and I am unable to find them
- Sometimes a teacher may not let a pupil out of class because of a test
- A lesson may be scheduled for break time and I am unable to find them
- Pupils may be taken out of class for school photos
From my point of view, I have been available to teach at the allotted time and have been unable to deliver the lesson through no fault of my own. If you called out a plumber and they were unable to complete the job due to circumstances beyond their control, there is no question that they would still charge for the call-out, and then charge another fee for rescheduling the job. You should take the matter up with the school if you are unhappy that a teacher has prevented me from providing a lesson.
If the school is closed unexpectedly (for example due to snow) I will be available give a lesson online at the scheduled time. If this is not wanted, the lesson will be forfeited.
Lessons missed by me will, of course, be refunded or made up at a mutually convenient time.
Normally there is an expectation to deliver around 30 lessons per year. Being self-employed, I do not enjoy the benefit of holiday pay. In order to make up the shortfall of the 22 weeks when I do not receive teaching income, I maintain parallel careers as a professional performer, examiner, writer and artist. Performing work does not fall neatly into these 22 weeks, so there will be times when I am unable to teach because a concert clashes with teaching and I need to maintain my performing career. I hope that you are sympathetic to my situation and are happy that your child is being taught by an experienced working musician.