Handling students class cancellations


I run a small school, five students a class three times a week,
different students on each day. It isn’t formalized with the
education board. Strictly for hobbyists. The students are all at
different levels. Some have been with me from the very beginning
others a few months.They pay for the month up front and if they can
only attend three that month I charge a premium which increases if
the class attendance is three or less. My problem is how do I handle
students who are missing a whole month due to school holidays or the

Or students who cancel the day before or that morning? I obviously
can’t take on someone to fill their space. I have been letting them
come on another teaching day to make up but my classes are full now
except for my bench which I could use for that day I suppose. But I
don’t want my bench inaccessible by students making up classes. The
classes are not run like a course so it’s not like in the eight week
course if you miss a lesson, tough luck. Any advice? I do piano
lessons and have cancelled one due to a cold but I don’t expect to
make that lesson up essentially for free or have it carried forward
into the next month.

Leza McLeod

what I don’t understand is why they would pay for a whole month if
they know they are not going to be there because of school holidays?

When I do my teaching at our community college, my 6-7 students know
to be on-time, every day! If they miss a class, or 1 hour late, I am
not in a habit of retracing my lessons to fit their schedule. As my
schedule is almost figured to the minute, or half-hour!

They pay the school ahead of time, if they miss out, it’s their
problem, not mine!!! Am I tough with this curriculum, you betcha! But
during the class or lesson, I am a mentor with them all. We make each
lesson a lite and jovial time.

Many of them have gone ahead and opened up their own designing and
mfg’ing studios. All of them need these 40 hour+ lessons on

Many times I have been doing on-site training, or private tutoring!
I make time for their schedule. They know it is to their favour that
I travel far away just to help them.

his teaching is now at all easy, but certain rules must be followed.
This way they are happy in obtaining what is required to be a stone

Gerry !

what I don't understand is why they would pay for a whole month if
they know they are not going to be there because of school

No they don’t pay for that month, that is the issue.

Then I misunderstood what you wrote - sorry. Seems to me though when
I take a class in anything at all, I pay up front for the entire
class. If I don’t attend for any reason, that’s my lookout. I need
then to talk to another student to see what I can glean there.


Ya I feel that too, if you miss the class that’s your problem. But
all the students are at different levels. So it’s not like they can
check with the other students on the work they have missed as it is
different for everyone. I also don’t want to create a feeling of
resentment within the class. Really tricky situation. Thanks for the
input though.


hello Leza,

It seems like it’s time to consider that being a business you should
look at rewriting your policy on cancellations. Be claer in that if
a student cancels it must be at least 48 hours in advance ( since it
is possible to fill a seat in that time, less though it becomes too
much work for you) and decide whether or not to allow them to make it
up within that week or forfeit or that access to “x”- a bench,
certain tools, etc. will be limited deending on the lesson and
students already scheduled for that class.In other words, you will
allow them to come to the studio but their use of facilities is
preceeded by students scheduled for that day.Under any circumstances
you will or will not give refunds on those days. Holidays must be
scheduled in advance as the students should know that their holiday
is upcoming before the week of classes! Sounds like students are
given a bit too much latitude! By clearly stating ( and formulating)
you policies and circulating them to all students everyone will be on
the same page regarding cancellations. When students pay for things
they are more likely to respect you and your time…that is
unfortunately, the power of money.I would love to teach for free but
when one does that students presume that anything goes.Money however,
adds a degree of responsibility for their actions and respect for
your time and goodwill.Often when people are new to teaching students
sense this and will try every excuse possible to test the structure
of the programme.avoding this is as simple as being clear with
everyone about your policies on holiday,absence, illness, missing
classes, and making them up.Sometimes making them up will set them
back in structured programmes at which time you may need to move them
into a less advanced group- that is relative to how you plan your
lessons or not - so they are all at about the same place in a project
or course of studies. Many years ago I used to let students join in
classes at mixed levels trying to give each one the guidance
necessary towards individualising a student’s lessons.Equally, many
years ago I realised this was not practical and since have offered
very structured programmes- from tool use and care to metals
properties before they got to an assigned bench.Even assigining a
bench has its place in that students accept a degree of ownership of
that bench, it’s tools and the space around it and do their best to
maintain it to as keen a standard as is possible realising that it is
shared with others- the point is that they know that the same
students are sharing the space,consumables, and tools at a given
bench and work together to keep it as organised and clean as is
possible within the time frame of a lesson, or a week.Providing them
zip top bags( or some container that can be personalised) and storage
within a bench or designated space in the studio lends a feeling of
ownership and comfort within the studio wherin they feel more “at
home” and ultimately take less advantage of your time and space.They
learn to organise their studio time to allow for clean-up at the end
of the period and cancel less as well ! When revising your class
policies the main things to consider aRe: 1) MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU 2)
students will not quit if they are learning 3) once all realise that
your time is valuable and bench space is equally valued they don’t
mind paying for it when they get consistency and share in maintaining
their bench space with the same others week to week or month to month
4) paying monthly helps cut down on cancellations when they realise
that there are only so many periods in a week for their lessons and
if they miss that time it becomes money lost- not a juggling of time
and people that you have to add to the time it takes you to organise
and offer classes with a minimum of hassle- as well as falling behind
the rest of their group to a degree if they miss a class or two in a
row. 5) it is perfectly acceptable to add a fee for make-up classes,
perhaps having one day a week or two a month that x number of
students needing to make up missing can come to catch up
but that it will cost them for breaking the commitment to the course.
After all money firms up a commitment to a school over like for a
teacher- I have seen it many, many times over the years with many
teachers in many places- what is universal is that students thrive on
the possibilities of sound and processes they can learn
and develop dedication to a class when they pay for it If I can be of
any help in creating a cancellation policy ( mine is fairly strict
and I don’t deviate from it once circulated save for in a true
emergency) feel free to contact me off list…Best regards, rer

My daughter took harp for years, and we paid a month in advance for a
set number of lessons. If we weren’t going to be there for a month we
didn’t pay for that month. Made it simple all around - the instructor
knew what to expect, and we could budget around vacations. Might work
for you…

Beth Wicker

I do evening (hobby) silversmithing classes here in New Zealand - we
enroll for a term (10 weeks), and all students are at differing
levels, each of us working on individual projects. if i miss a
class, its my problem, and thats fine. i would love to be credited
for missed classes, and use that credit for a make-up or discount on
the following term, but i dont expect that for a second - these folk
are running a business after all.

BUT i do expect tools and tutors to be of high quality, and readily
available. if there were seperate classes run over the short term
breaks, (currently there are none), i’d happily enrol for these too,
if the times suited. Really, if you are providing a quality service,
then your students should consider they are purchasing a service,
which is available at certain times and it is THEIR responsibility to
turn up or miss out, just as it is your responibility to provide a
quality service at a reasonable price. Perhaps you should consider
reviewing your enrolment periods, and adjust for attendance
accordingly, maybe with “discount” for enrolments of 3 months, v/s 1