THE FARMHOUSE MONTESSORI SCHOOL, Non performance of Services Dispute, At the beginning of Term 2, in 2022, the Montessori qualified Stage - Disputes Register
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Ref: 1845
Filed: 13/12/2022

Accused Company:


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Company number: au-95 002 437 881

Building 6 (The Gatehouse), Nth Head Sanctuary,
33 North Head Scenic Drive, Manly, NSW 2095

Allegation: Non performance of Services

Value: AUD 3,332.00

Dispute details:

Failure to Adequately Provide Montessori Educational Services

At the beginning of Term 2, in 2022, the Montessori qualified Stage 3 teacher provided three months’ notice to move overseas. Communication to the parent body indicated that recruitment for a replacement Stage 3 Montessori trained teacher was to be commenced. 
At the beginning of Term 3, Farmhouse Montessori dispensed with its Montessori qualified Principal. No credible reason was ever provided to the parent community beyond “not the right fit” over a community Zoom call with the Parents. It was made clear that there was no professional misconduct or child protection matters as motivating factors, but that the Principal would leave immediately and be back filled by a teacher from the pre-school in an Acting Principal capacity. On this Zoom call there was a commitment made by a Board Member to come back to the parent community with an update on the recruitment of a Stage 3 teacher. That follow up nor any other communication regarding the recruitment of a Montessori-trained Stage 3 was ever provided to parents. 
The current Principal came in to replace the teacher in an Acting role in Term 3. The current principal has previous school Principal experience, but does not have any experience with Montessori pedagogy. This is neither an endorsement nor a criticism of the Principal. It is simply a relevant factor that the Stage 3 class had neither fully trained Montessori teachers, 5 days per week, nor oversight from a Montessori qualified Principal, which had been the status quo for the last 7 years.

It was indicated that a serving Board Member with formal Montessori qualifications would act in a mentoring role however no transparent plan has ever been communicated to parents regarding the structure and frequency of this oversight to the pedagogy. This was also raised in our initial correspondence regarding fees and has never been responded to. Our own enquiries with the Farmhouse teachers have uncovered that this mentoring and pedagogy oversight to a degree that would be considered equal to or commensurate to replacing a Montessori-trained Principal was never actually conducted.
Farmhouse Montessori bills its fees one term in advance. Continued annual membership of Manly Warringah Montessori Society is a prerequisite for enrolment and attendance at Farmhouse Montessori School. Despite this, Farmhouse Montessori failed to provision 5-day a week coverage by fully trained Montessori teachers in the Stage 3 classroom throughout Term 3 and Term 4. From our perspective, a full-fee quality Montessori education was therefore not being provided to our child. We made this very clear in written correspondence throughout Term 3 and Term 4 that this is the source of our dispute.

We provided 50% of Term 3, and 50% of Term 4 invoices as reduced amounts reflecting the reduction in the level of Montessori education that was being provided, and provided a written rationale notice as such. The invoice numbers were clearly noted to the Accounts Payable team on payment at each stage. 

Ironically, the school now appears to have formally recognised that it was not delivering at the suitable level of adequacy throughout Term 3 and Term 4, and on Dec.5, 2022 announced a revised resource plan for 2023 that meets the core criteria of our grievance by resuming to provide full 5 day a week coverage by Montessori-trained teachers to the Stage 3 class. 
Unfortunately, time is of the essence in providing these services, and so they cannot be resupplied. 

Attempts to resolve dispute:

Lodged written complaint along with part payment for Term 3 Sept 5, 2022 . Response promised, but no further reply.
Met with Principal on Oct.14, 2022 to discuss issues raised. No actions taken.
Lodged part payment for Term 4 invoice on Oct.26,2022 with invoice number.
Nov.19, 2022 - Principal sends email requesting more payments. No issues addressed. No changes.
Nov.24, 2022 - Principal emails threatening to use a debt collection agency to recover funds. Source issues remain unaddressed.
Nov.25, 2022 - Principal emails reply to us, invites to meet to discuss and hopefully resolve.
Nov.28, 2022 - Meeting accepted and schedule proposed with Principal. However, no further reply or attempt to schedule undertaken by Principal.
Dec.2, 2022 - Principal emails to request payment. Offer to meet in person to discuss and resolve is not featured.
Dec.13, 2022 - School year is over. Grievances are addressed and announced for resolution in 2023. Principal emails to request payment.
Dec.16, 2022 - Meeting scheduled with Principal to discuss dispute resolution. Board Chairman invited to attend as optional.
Dec.16, 2022 - Meeting attended by Principal in attempt to resolve dispute. Board to respond to dispute before Dec.24, 2022.

Response to accusation (by accused):

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Sydney , Australia