School Complaints Procedure

Complaints Policy Revised: November 2015

We believe that this school provides an excellent education and that the Headteacher and school personnel work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents and others.

We believe that we can keep complaints to a minimum by forging strong positive relations with everyone connected with the school and by having in place very good lines of communication.

Aim of our complaints policy:

  •   To encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
  •   To have an easily accessible, and easy to follow procedure
  •   To respect people’s desire for confidentiality
  •   To be impartial
  •   To deal with any complaint against the school or any individual connected with it by following the correct procedures.
  •   To deal with all complaints thoroughly and by being open, honest and fair when dealing with the complainant.

Stages of complaint:

  •   Stage one: complaint heard by member of staff, preferably the class teacher
  •   Stage two: complaint heard by Headteacher
  •   Stage three: complaint heard by Chair of Governors
  •   Stage Four: compliant heard by Governors complaint panel

Stage one – Complaint heard by member of staff:

The first stage would be to address your concern with the class teacher, or other relevant member of staff, e.g. School Business Manager if the concern is regarding the Buildings.

If the first approach is made to a Governor, the next step would be to refer the complainant to the appropriate person and advise them on the complaints procedure.

Governors should not act alone on an individual complaint outside the formal procedure or be involved at the early stages, in case they are needed to sit on a panel at a later stage of the procedure.

We will aim to resolve any complaints at Stage one, and will discuss the outcome with the complainant to ensure all parties agree the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.

Stage two – Complaint heard by Headteacher

Should the matter not have been resolved satisfactorily at Stage One, you may wish to pursue your concern further and raise it with the Headteacher.

This must be done in writing, using the formal complaint form (Appendix 1)

The Headteacher will then arrange for a meeting to discuss the complaint, or will provide a formal written response within 5 working days of receipt of the completed complaint form.

Stage three: Complaint heard by Governing Body Appeal Panel

If you remain unhappy with the outcome of Stage three, then the Chair or other nominated governor will convene a governing body complaints panel.

The Governors appeal hearing is the last school based stage of the complaints process. Individual complaints would not be heard by the whole of the Governing body at any stage.

The Governing body may nominate a number of member with delegated powers to hear complaints at this stage and set out its terms of reference.

These can include:

  • –  Drawing up its procedure
  • –  Hearing individual appeals
  • –  Making recommendations on policy as a result of complaints

The remit of the Complaints Appeal Panel

The panel can:

  • –  Dismiss the complaint in whole or in part
  • –  Uphold the complaint in whole or in part
  • –  Decide on the appropriate action to take to resolve the complaint
  • –  Recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that similar problems do not recur

There are several points which any governor sitting on a complaints panel needs to remember:

  •  It is important that the appeal hearing is independent and impartial and that it is seen to be so. No governor may sit on the panel if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or in the circumstances surrounding it. In deciding the make-up of the panel, governors need to try and ensure that it is a cross-section of the categories of governor and sensitive to the issues of race, gender and religious affiliation.
  •  The aim of the hearing, which must be held in private, will always be to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant. However, it has to be recognised that the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the hearing does not conclude in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations which will satisfy the complainant that his/her complaint has been taken seriously.
  •   An effective panel will acknowledge that many complainants feel nervous and inhibited in a formal setting. Parents often feel emotional when discussing an issue that affects their child. The panel chair will ensure that the proceedings are as welcoming as possible. The layout of the room will set the tone of the hearing and care is needed to ensure the setting is informal and not adversarial.
  •   Extra care must be taken when the complainant is a child. Careful consideration of the atmosphere and proceedings will ensure that the child does not feel intimidated. The panel needs to be aware of the views of the child and give them equal consideration to those of adults. Where the child’s parent is the complainant, it would be helpful to give the parent the opportunity to say which parts of the hearing, if any, the child needs to attend.
  •   The governors sitting on the panel need to be aware of the complaints procedure.

The role of the clerk

Schools are strongly advised that any panel or group of governors considering complaints should be clerked. The clerk is the contact point for the complainant and is required to:

  •   Set the date, time and venue of the hearing, ensuring that the dates are convenient to all parties, and that the venue and proceedings are accessible.
  •   Collate any written material and send it to the parties in advance of the hearing.
  •   Meet and welcome the parties as they arrive at the hearing.
  •   Record the proceedings.
  •   Notify all parties of the panel’s decision.

The role of the chair of the governing body or the nominated governor

The nominated governor should:

  •   Check that the correct procedure has been followed.
  •   Notify the clerk to arrange the panel if a hearing is appropriate.

The role of the chair of the panel

The chair of the panel has a key role. They must ensure that:

  •   The remit of the panel is explained to all parties and each party has the opportunity to put their case forward without undue interruption.
  •   The issues are addressed.
  •   Key findings of fact are made.
  •   Parents and others who may not be used to speaking at such a hearing are put at ease.
  •   The hearing is conducted in an informal manner with each party treating the other with respect and courtesy.
  •   The panel is open minded and acting independently.
  •   No member of the panel has a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings or any involvement in an earlier stage of the procedure.
  •   Each party is given the opportunity to state their case and ask questions.
  •   Written material is seen by all parties. If a new issue arises it would be useful to give all parties the opportunity to consider and comment on it.

Notification of the panel’s decision

The chair of the panel will notify you of the decision, in writing, usually within 5 working days. The letter will explain if there are any further rights of appeal and to whom they need to be addressed.