Complaints Procedure

School/Academy Complaints Procedure

Under the Education Act 2002 schools are required to have an approved procedure for dealing with complaints relating to the school/academy and to any community facilities or services the school provides.

In this school all staff are dedicated to giving all pupils the best possible education and caring properly for their health, safety and welfare at all times. We are committed to working closely with parents/carers and believe that the school and parents/carers must work together in partnership to help pupils gain the most from their time in school.

Communication, written or spoken, is valued as part of the partnership between home and school. Co-operation between parents/carers, staff and governors leads to a shared sense of purpose and a good atmosphere in the school.

The school aims to provide as many opportunities to keep parents/carers informed and involved in pupil progress as it possibly can.  However we recognise there will be times when parents/carers feel the school is not acting in the best interest of their child.

This procedure explains the process for parents/carers to follow if they have a concern or a complaint with the school. Appendix A of the complaints policy provides details on ‘How to raise concerns or make a complaint about the school’

In order to investigate your complaint as fully as possible the governing body has a staged process.   Most issues are sorted out informally and we would recommend that you try this approach first.  However, if you feel that there is nothing to be gained and you wish to make a formal complaint you have the right to go straight to stage 1 of the complaints procedure.

Resolving concerns informally

1.1.       Parents are always welcome to discuss any concerns with the appropriate member of staff, who will clarify with the parent the nature of the concern and reassure them that the school wants to hear about it.   The member of staff may explain to the parent how the situation happened.  It can be helpful at this point to identify what sort of outcome the parent is looking for.

1.2.       If the member of staff first contacted cannot immediately deal with the matter, s/he will make a clear note of the date, name and contact address or phone number.

1.3.       All members of staff will know how to refer, if necessary, to the person with responsibility for the particular issue raised by the parent.  S/he will check later to make sure the referral has been dealt with.

1.4.       If the matter is brought to the attention of the head teacher s/he may decide to deal with the complaint.  If the complaint is against the head teacher the parent will be advised to contact the chair of the governing body.

1.5.        The member of staff dealing with the concern will make sure the parent is clear what action (if any) or monitoring of the situation has been agreed, putting it in writing if appropriate.

1.6.        Where no satisfactory solution has been found, and the complainant continues to have concerns, they may wish to consider a formal complaint in writing to the head teacher.

Complaints Procedure Stage 1: investigation by the Head Teacher

2.1       Complaints at this stage need to be recorded in writing.  A complainant may wish to write in themselves.  Complainants may also make their complaint verbally and can expect help to put their complaint in writing.

2.2       The head teacher (or designated person) will acknowledge the complaint in writing within three working days of receiving the written complaint. The acknowledgement will give a brief explanation of the school’s complaints procedure and a target date for providing a response to the complaint. This should normally be within ten working days. If this proves impossible, a letter will be sent explaining the reason for the delay and giving a revised target date.  This should be within a maximum of 20 working days unless it is a particularly complex issue.

2.3       The head teacher will provide an opportunity for the complainant to meet the head teacher/member of staff to supplement any information provided previously or to record the complaint in writing if it has been made verbally.  It will be made clear to the complainant that if s/he wishes s/he might be accompanied to any meeting by a friend, relative, representative or advocate who can speak on his/her behalf or to provide support.

2.4       If necessary the head teacher will interview other parties and take statements from those involved. If the complaint centres on a pupil, the pupil should also be interviewed unless this is judged not to be in the interests of the pupil’s welfare. Pupils should normally be interviewed with parents/guardians present, but if this would seriously delay the investigation of a serious/urgent complaint or if the pupil has specifically said that s/he would prefer that parents/guardians were not involved, another member of staff with whom the pupil feels comfortable should be present. If a member of staff is complained against, they must have the opportunity to present their case and the complaint may also be investigated as appropriate under the school’s disciplinary procedure.

2.5       The head teacher will keep written records of meetings, telephone conversations and other documentation.

2.6       Once all the relevant facts have been established as far as possible, the head teacher will then produce a written response to the complainant, including an explanation of the decision and the reasons for it.  Where appropriate, this will include what action the school will take to resolve the complaint. The complainant will be advised that should s/he wish to take the complaint further s/he should notify the chair of governors within 20 working days of receiving the letter.

2.7       If the complaint is against the head teacher, or if the head teacher has been closely involved in the issue, the chair of the governing body will carry out all the Stage 1 procedures.

Stage 2: Review by the Governing Body

3.1          If the outcome is unsatisfactory the complainant will be advised to complete the standard complaints form (Appendix B) and send it to the chair of the governing body (c/o the school). The chair of the governing body will then write to the complainant to acknowledge receipt of the written request for the chair of governors to review the complaint.

3.2          The chair of the governing body may be able to resolve the problem informally, undertaking an independent investigation and meeting with each party involved in the complaint.

3.3          The chair of the governing body may feel it would be appropriate that an independent person is enlisted to investigate the complaint.

3.4          In the event the complainant is still dissatisfied with the outcome the complaint the chair of the governing body will write to the complainant to acknowledge receipt of the written request for the governing body to review the complaint.

3.5          The acknowledgement will explain that the complainant has the right to submit any further documents relevant to the complaint. These documents must be received in time to be sent to the panel members and the head teacher. A meeting of the complaints committee will be convened which will consist of 3 or 5 members of the governing body. No governors with prior involvement in the issues complained about will be included on the panel. The head teacher will not sit on the panel.

3.6          The chair of the panel will ensure the panel hears the complaint within       20 working days of receiving the letter.

3.7          The clerk will write and inform the complainant, head teacher, any relevant witnesses and members of the panel at least seven working days in advance of the date, time and place of the meeting. The notification will also inform the complainant of his/her right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend/advocate/interpreter and explain how the meeting will be conducted and the complainant’s right to submit further written evidence to the panel.

3.8          The head teacher will be invited to attend the panel meeting. All attendees, including the complainant, should receive a set of the relevant documents, including the head teacher’s report and the agenda, at least five working days prior to the meeting.

3.9          Submission of additional documents or requests for additional attendees will be at the discretion of the chair of the panel.

3.10       At the panel hearing:

  • The complainant will have the opportunity to present their complaint.
  • The head teacher will explain the school’s position.
  • Those present will have the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Panel members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant and the head teacher.
  • The head teacher will be given the opportunity to make a final statement to the panel.
  • The complainant will be given the opportunity to make a final statement to the panel.
  • The chair will ask the complainant if he or she feels they have had a fair hearing.

The chair of the panel has responsibility to ensure that the meeting is properly minuted.

Any witnesses will be called into the meeting at the appropriate time and then requested to leave after they have provided their witness statement.

3.11       The chair of the panel will explain to the complainant and head teacher that the panel will consider its decision and that a written decision will be sent to both parties within five working days. The complainant and head teacher will then leave the meeting.

3.12       The panel will then consider the complaint and all the evidence presented and:-

  • agree a decision on the complaint;
  • decide upon the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
  • where appropriate, suggest recommended changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur. 

3.13       A written statement clearly setting out the decision of the panel must be sent to the complainant and head teacher. The letter to the complainant should also advise how to take the complaint further in the event they should wish to do so.

3.14       The school should ensure that a copy of all correspondence and notes are kept on file in the school’s records. These records should be kept separately from the pupil’s personal records.

Stage 3 The Secretary of State

4              If a complainant wishes to go beyond the governors’ complaints panel, they should be advised to contact the Secretary of State for Education More information is available at www.education.gov.uk/schoolcomplaints. for both maintained schools and academies. Complaints about academies are handled by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.

Click on the link below for full procedure including appendices:

Complaints Procedure.NLC Feb 2013 (1)