Below is a range of Frequently Asked Questions relating to enrolment, fees and attendance at TSPA. If they do not answer all your questions please don't hesitate to get in touch by calling us on 020 8312 1659 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I get feedback on my child's progess at TSPA?
Of course. We do not provide regular written reports for our students but of course we are happy to discuss their progress with you at reasonable intervals. If they are undertaking BTDA exams you will have a fair indication of their progress based upon their grades but we are always open to parents who take a closer interest in how their youngsters are progressing in class.
We would be happy to discuss this with you if you would like to get in touch, and usually would like to consult our tutors after your enquiry so we can feed back their comments. It is not usually possible to provide feedback for parents immediately after a class as the tutor is usually welcoming a new group of children in, so please request feedback by contacting the office in the first instance. If you would like to meet more formally to discuss an issue please arrange an appointment and we will be happy to help.
What is my enrolment fee paying for?
The enrolment fee we charge - £10 per child or £15 per family upon joining TSPA - covers the administration costs of registering a new student onto our system and thus with the British Theatre Dance Association with whom we are a registered school. This fee also enables us to offer free trial classes in dance which helps us assess your children and make sure they are in the correct class for their age and ability and also the class that they - and you - want to attend. Upon joining your children will receive a TSPA t-shirt.
Why do I pay for a trial on Saturdays?
Our Saturday stage school has a two week trial charged at the discounted rate of £25 regardless of age or group (£45 for a pair of siblings). This trial is charged because we have found over the years that our stage school on Saturdays is such an exciting, all encompassing session that really builds a strong group with our children, and so sometimes the first week is just about new children getting used to it, getting familiar with the surroundings, tutors and new friends.
Then on the second week there are suddenly familiar faces, comfortable surroundings and the child is no longer the newbie - they generally then settle in very quickly. With a one week trial, some children would miss out by not getting past that first week. We ask parents to pay so we know we will see you again for the second week - if after a free one week trial a child says, "I'm not sure, I didn't know anyone, it's all new!", you have nothing invested and might think, "OK, we'll try something else." But we know that when they come back, they will love it. Our experience shows us that some children take a couple of weeks to settle in to our awesome, full-on stage school experience at Stage Stars.
How much are the fees?
The current scale of fees is available here.
When are fees due?
Fees are payable in half term blocks of six weeks, and are always due in advance of a new half term. Sometimes there are 5 or 7 week blocks charged at the same rate and they will always even out, so there are 6 payments of 6 weeks due per year. If they are late, £5 is added to the fees.
How can I pay the fees?
Fees can be paid by monthly or half termly direct debit/recurring card payment. Click here to setup your direct debit mandate, it only takes a few moments. If you pay by DD etc you will still receive an invoice each half term for your records, but you can ignore it and let the automation take the strain. Alternatively, you can set up your debit or credit card for recurring payment. All online payments are secure and Direct Debits are protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee.
Fees not paid automatically MUST be paid in advance through the invoice you will receive by email approximately three weeks prior to a new half term. Students whose fees are not paid will be asked to observe rather than take part in class and the late fee will be added to the invoice.
Is there a "Pay as you Go" option?
Is there a charge for paying late?
Yes, £5 will be added to late fees. This is not a ploy to make money, it is to encourage prompt payment. No-one who pays on time needs to even think for a minute about worrying about our late payment fee. If you think you are at risk of paying late, you can set up a GoCardless account with us and we will take the strain. Any money we do bring in for Late Payment Fees helps us cover the administrative costs of chasing late fees which requires manpower that could be directed elsewhere.
How do I set up a Direct Debit?
This is straightforward and we will do the work. Just provide us your account number and sort code and we'll do the rest, or use this simple form you complete online in a matter of a few minutes. You will receive a log-in ID and you will be in control of your account, which is protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee. The direct debit needs to be at or near the start of the month. If you wish it to be at the end of the month, we will arrange it so that the DD is collecting for the following month.
What are my fees paying for?
TSPA is a not-for-private-profit Social Enterprise family run company with a mission to provide a service to the community, but it is a company and as such we must make some kind of profit in order to survive, let alone thrive and grow. We do not answer to shareholders, but we are not a charity that receives grants or donations so we must charge for our services. We believe therefore that value for money is the most important thing to our customers. We have never set out to be the cheapest, but we are aiming to be the best. We want you to know that your money is being used to provide quality experiences to your children.
Fees paid by parents contribute towards the cost of renting the Studio from The Link, paying our tutors for their services, the cost of administrative work and insurance etc and other costs related to running an organisation that has around 400 visits a week. As we grow the workload becomes greater and we need to grow our team to be able to cope, so our costs are always increasing faster than our fees.
What happens if my child misses a class?
Unfortunately we cannot refund missed classes. In order for TSPA to survive we have to be able to plan for the future based upon enrolments and expected fees income. If we refunded for missed classes we would very quickly be refunding a great deal of fees, since obviously for various reasons it is necessary to miss the odd class. With 400 visits a week, this adds up to lots of 'odd' classes missed. We also would find that commitment to attend classes would drop, particularly during winter months when staying in can seem more appealing than braving the cold weather to get to dance class! We expect that enrolment to our classes has a level of commitment which includes financial commitment from the parents. For these reasons we will not refund for classes missed due to family holidays, trips, excursions, parties etc, and to be fair to all we cannot make exceptions to this rule.
What happens if my child needs to miss an extended period?
If your child is unwell for a considerable period and cannot medically attend class or has been advised by their doctor, or indeed by us, to rest from dancing then we may be able to cease to charge fees for this duration, or offer a discount, or carry fees over to the following block etc. Please contact us to discuss this, and we may ask that medical evidence be provided to reassure us that the absence is genuine. We try to be as accommodating as possible for genuine extended illness - unfortunately we cannot, for the reasons stated above, discount fees for missed classes for standard illness, colds, flu etc.
When will the fees go up?
In the past we have increased fees very rarely in order to make things as easy as possible for our parents. This has lead to cash flow problems for TSPA and as such we have introduced a system whereby there will be a small increase following a review of fees before each Autumn Term (September). This way increases can be nominal and have less impact rather than waiting three years and needing to implement a larger increase. So there is likely to be a small fees increase in September, but not before. We offer a range of discounts etc in addition, to make paying for classes easier.
What is the uniform my child should be wearing?
Many of our dance classes have uniform requirements, which we can provide info for if you would like to speak to someone at The Studio reception when you come to class. You can order dancewear through us to save the inconvenience of having to go to a dance shop. We are trying to get stricter about uniform in class as this has several positive benefits to progress for the children, not least that it encourages unity and a sense of being part of a community at TSPA which promotes a positive atmosphere all round.
When will there be a show I can watch?
We aim to do a 'big' show at a venue such as the Orchard Theatre or the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford every couple of years. It is not possible for us to do one every year - the planning and logistics of mounting a show with 200+ children means it is just too much for our small team to undertake every year. We plan more frequent performances on a smaller scale at our 160-seat venue at The Studio which you will be able to attend, and we frequently have "watch week" sessions where parents can view classes.
What are the costs of performances etc?
As with any activity that your child gets involved in, there are often extra costs involved for further activities. At TSPA if we are doing a big show, there is always a Show Fee which covers costs related to the production, and there will be costume costs relative to the number of routines your child is in. We do our best to keep these as low as possible and they are not profit making exercises for TSPA. People often complain about these costs but we encourage them to consider that the expenses of mounting a show on this scale at a theatre like the Orchard can never be covered by ticket sales alone - unless we were to sell out the theatre at £30 a ticket. Which would never happen, because if tickets were £30 you would not be encouraging the wider family to come and see the show. A show fee and costume fee is the fairest way, enables us to plan and budget the production, and helps us keep ticket prices reasonable, generally less than £15 a ticket in previous years. In order to be able to mount shows in the future at wonderful venues such as the Orchard or the MJC - which provide a very special experience for the children - it is imperative that the shows do not make a loss.
If I have a concern or complaint, what should I do?
We very rarely have the need to address major complaints or problems, but we understand that there will always be niggling things that upset or annoy parents, and we'd rather hear it from you than on the grapevine. It is impossible to run a Performing Arts school with 200 families and not upset some people some of the time, although we do our best to keep people happy. Our priority though is that all our children have a positive experience with us and this priority will always take precedent over one unhappy mum or another, which we know from experience is ultimately what our children's parents expect of us.
Please address any issues to us rather than to each other so we can resolve them, and please do not approach the dance tutor between classes as there is usually another class due to start. If you wish to speak directly to the tutor this can be arranged by first contacting the TSPA office to begin the conversation. We pride ourselves on having good relationships with our parents and many have been happy customers for a good many years. We hope and strive that this will continue to be the case.