Recovering debt from parents: what to do

Use our step-by-step guide to find out how to proceed if a parent hasn't paid fees for things like school meals or trips. You can download our template letters to remind and warn parents when debts aren't being paid.

Last reviewed on 11 July 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 6629
  1. Set out your expectations in a policy 
  2. See examples of debt recovery policies
  3. Contact the parents to discuss repayment 
  4. If appropriate, consider introducing sanctions
  5. If appropriate, consider writing off debt
  6. Next steps you can take

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting many schools and families, and you may be seeing an increase in parents failing to pay for school lunches, trips and other costs. This is a difficult topic for schools and there's no easy answer.

You will need to be sensitive to personal circumstances when you communicate with parents about debt recovery at this time. But it's still important that you're clear, so everyone know where they stand. See our template letters further down this page.

Set out your expectations in a policy 

If they don't, they may still set rules on how to manage debts that you should reflect in your policy, so consult any financial