The Current Complaints Policy is being renewed, it will follow the guidelines set down by the local authority 2013. A revised local authority Complaints Policy is due to come out in September 2018.
Please refer to the Local Education Complaints Policy or call into school to have a copy made for you.
We strive to provide a good education for all our children. The headteacher and staff work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents. However, the school is obliged to have procedures in place in case there are complaints by parents or guardians. The following policy sets out the procedures that the school follows in such cases.
If any parents are unhappy with the education that their child is receiving, or have any concerns relating to the school, we encourage them to talk to the child’s class teacher immediately.
We deal with all complaints in accordance with procedures laid down by the Local Authority (LA). If the school itself cannot resolve a complaint, those concerned can refer the matter to the LA. All parents have a right, as a last resort, to appeal to the Secretary of State for Education, if they still feel that their complaint has not been properly addressed.
Aims and Objectives
Our school aims to be fair, open and honest when dealing with any complaint. We give careful consideration to all complaints, and deal with them as swiftly as possible. We aim to resolve any complaint through dialogue and mutual understanding. In all cases, we put the interests of the child above all else. We provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed, and then resolved.
If necessary, support for the complainant should be arranged, for example, translation of any of the papers provided by the school or the LA, provision of an interpreter or any arrangements necessary to give the complainant full access to the proceedings, for example if the complainant has a disability.
The Complaints Process
Stage 1:Dealing with Concerns and Complaints Informally
If a parent is concerned about anything to do with the education that we are providing at our school, they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with their child’s class teacher. In our experience, most matters of concern can be resolved positively in this way. All staff work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school, and is making good progress. They naturally want to know if there is a problem, so that they can take action before it seriously affects the child’s progress.
Although this stage involves dealing with the issue informally it may prove helpful later, although not essential at this stage, for the person responding to make a basic record of the issue or complaint raised, which may include brief notes of conversations (face to face or over the telephone), and the responses made.
The person who raised the issue should be informed of the action to be taken to resolve the issue. It may be helpful to confirm undertakings given about future action or monitoring in writing.
If the person is dissatisfied with the response they have been given, they should be provided with a copy of the school’s complaints procedure and informed about how to take their complaint to Stage 2, by referring it to the headteacher, usually in writing.
Stage 2: Referral to the Headteacher
The headteacher considers any such complaint very seriously, and investigates each case thoroughly; most complaints are normally resolved by this stage. It is generally at this or the previous stage, that it will become clear whether it is appropriate for the complaint to be dealt with under these procedures or whether there are statutory processes as outlined in the Guidance for Parents. If the latter is the case, the Headteacher will need to inform the complainant of this and the way in which the complaint will be handled.
At this stage it has become clear that the concern is a definite complaint. Any complaint received by the headteacher under this process, whether orally or in writing, should be acknowledged within 5 school days with a full written response within 15 school days.
Complainants should also be given the opportunity to meet with the headteacher, accompanied by a relative or friend if they so wish, to discuss their complaint. Written records of interviews with complainants and with staff or witnesses carried out in the course of the investigation should be kept by the headteacher.
In the letter conveying the outcome, the complainant should be informed of the process for referral to the Chair of Governors if they wish to take their complaint further. Any such referral should be made within 10 school days after receipt of the headteacher’s letter.
Stage 3: Reconciliation Stage
This stage in the procedure can follow Stage 2, where the earlier stage has been investigated by a senior member of staff other than the headteacher.
If the complainant is not content with the decision reached by the designate in response to their complaint, they may refer the matter to the Headteacher. An agreed period of time for this to take place could be established – within a maximum of 15 school days.
The Headteacher should endeavour to resolve any complaint referred to them at this stage and should seek to arrange a meeting with the complainant as soon as practical. The meeting offers an opportunity to reassess all the issues, discuss any further findings from the Headteachers investigation, clarify the action to be taken by the school and ally the complainants worries in order to seek reconciliation.
Should the complainant still be dissatisfied then they should be directed to put their complaint in writing to the chair of Governors.
Complaints Against the Headteacher
Stage 3 should also serve as the first point at which complaints are specifically aimed at the Headteacher or an individual governor. Should the complaint be about the Chair, the Vice-Chair should undertake the investigation.
Any parent/s who have a complaint about the headteacher, should first make an informal approach to one of the members of the governing body, who is obliged to investigate it. The governor in question will do all s/he can to resolve the issue through a dialogue with the school, but if parents are unhappy with the outcome, they can make a formal complaint as detailed above.
Stage 4: Review by Governing Body Complaints Committee
A model procedure for review by the Governing Body
3.1 Upon receipt of a written complaint appropriate to this stage of the procedure or where a complainant appeals against the decision of the Headteacher (Stage 2 of the procedure) within an agreed period, within a maximum of 15 school days of receipt of the decision letter, the Headteacher must notify the Chair of Governors so that a review can be instituted.
3.2 The Clerk to the Governing Body should write to the complainant to acknowledge the Chair of Governors has received a written request for a review. The letter could also explain that the complainant has the right to submit any further documents relevant to the complaint. These should be made available immediately so that they can be circulated to all committee members.
3.3 The committee of the Governing Body should set a timetable for the investigation and should communicate the timetable to the complainant.
3.4 The Clerk to the Governors should arrange to convene the Complaints Committee elected from members of the Governing Body. (It may be necessary for the Governing Body to appoint reserves to this committee to ensure that three governors are available to carry out their task within the set time).
3.5 The Complaints Committee members should be governors who have had no prior involvement with the complaint. If s/he has not previously been involved, the Chair of the Governing Body should chair the committee; otherwise the Vice Chair should do so. Generally it is not appropriate for the Headteacher to have a place on the committee.
3.6 The Chair/Vice Chair should ensure that the complaint is heard by the committee within a maximum of 20 school days of receiving the letter. All relevant correspondence regarding the complaint must be made available to the committee members at least 5 school days before the hearing.
3.7 The Chair/Vice-Chair should write and inform the complainant, Headteacher, any relevant witnesses, and members of the committee at least 5 school days in advance, of the date, time and place of the meeting. The notification to the complainant should also inform him/her of the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend/advocate/interpreter. The letter should also explain how the
meeting will be conducted and the complainant’s right to submit further written evidence to the committee.
3.8 The Chair/Vice-Chair of the Governing Body should invite the Headteacher to attend the committee meeting and prepare a written report for the committee in response to the complaint. The Headteacher may also invite members of staff directly involved in matters raised by the complainant to respond in writing or in person to the complaint. Any relevant documents including the headteacher’s report should be received by all concerned – including the complainant – at least 5 school days prior to the meeting.
3.9 The involvement of staff other than the Headteacher is subject to the discretion of the Chair of the committee.
3.10 It is the responsibility of the Chair of the committee to ensure that the meeting is properly minuted.
3.11 The aim of the meeting should be to resolve the complaint and achieve a reconciliation between the school and the complainant. However, it has to be recognised that sometimes it may only be possible to establish facts and make recommendations which will satisfy the complainant that his or her complaint has been taken seriously.
3.12 The committee should remember that many complainants are unused to dealing with groups of people in formal situations and may feel inhibited when speaking to the committee. It is therefore recommended that the Chair of the committee ensures that the proceedings are as informal as possible.
3.13 If either party should intend to introduce previously undisclosed evidence or witnesses, it is in the interests of natural justice to adjourn the meeting so that the other side has time to consider and respond to the new evidence.
3.14 The meeting should allow for
– the complainant to explain their complaint and the Headteacher to explain the school’s response
– the Headteacher to question the complainant about the complaint and the complainant to question the Headteacher and/or other members of staff (if invited to be present by the Chair of the committee) about the school’s response
– committee members to have an opportunity to question both the complainant and the Headteacher
– any party to have the right to call witnesses (subject to the approval of the Chair) and all parties having the right to question all the witnesses
– final statements by both the complainant and the Headteacher.
3.15 The Chair of the committee should explain to the complainant and the Headteacher that the committee will consider its decision, and a written decision will be sent to both parties within a maximum of 15 school days. The complainant, Headteacher, other members of staff and witnesses should then leave.
3.16 The committee should then consider the complaint and all the evidence presented and (a) reach a unanimous, or at least a majority, decision on the complaint and (b) decide upon the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint and (c) where appropriate, suggest recommended changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not happen again.
3.17 A written statement outlining the decision of the committee must be sent to the complainant and Headteacher.
3.18 The chair should ensure that parents are aware that they can complain to the Secretary of State for Education if they are unhappy with the outcome of the review.
3.19 The school should ensure that a copy of all correspondence and notes are kept on file in the school’s records.
Complaints concerning the teacher/s with responsibility for investigating Complaints
Where a complaint concerns in whole or part the conduct of the teacher responsible for investigating complaints, the teacher should, on receipt of the formal complaint, immediately refer the matter to the Headteacher.
The Headteacher may either designate another member of staff to act as the teacher with responsibility for investigating the complaint, or s/he may her/himself deal with the complaint.
Complaints concerning the Headteacher, a Governor or the Governing Body
In these cases the Chair of the Governing Body must investigate the complaint.
The complainant can appeal against the decision of the Chair within a maximum of 15 school days of receipt of the decision letter. The Governing Body can either delegate the appeal to the complaints committee, or may, where they think it appropriate, appoint 3 other governors to form a complaints panel to investigate and make a recommendation by majority decision to the Governing Body.
Complaints concerning the Chair of Governors
A senior member of staff or Headteacher, upon receiving a formal complaint against the Chair, must notify the clerk, who must then table the complaint at an extraordinary meeting of the Governing Body. The Chair must withdraw from any discussion. The Governing Body will refer the matter to the Complaints Committee of the governing body.
Withdrawal of Complaints
Formal complaints may be withdrawn at any stage by notice in writing.
Complaints by members of the Governing Body and pupils
Governing Bodies shall establish such procedures, as they feel appropriate for dealing with complaints from members of the Governing Body and pupils.
A complaint by a governor may be discussed at a full meeting of the Governing Body.
A Governing Body can delegate the responsibility of managing complaints by pupils to the professionals. Pupils need to know clearly how they can register their complaint and they need assurance that it will be dealt with expediently.