We believe that our school provides a good education for all our children, and that the Headteacher (Mrs Atherton) and other staff work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents. Under section 29 of the Education Act 2002, Governing Bodies of all maintained schools in England have been required to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints related to the school. The law also requires the procedure to be publicised. There is a difference between a concern and a complaint. Taking informal concerns seriously at the earliest stage will reduce the number that develop into formal complaints.
The formal procedures will need to be invoked only when initial attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further.
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 and, in all cases, we put the interests of the child above all other issues. We provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed, and then resolved. Our complaints procedure will:
- encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
- be easily accessible and publicised;
- be impartial and non-adversarial;
- allow swift handling with established time-limits for action and keep people informed of the progress;
- ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary;
- respect confidentiality;
- address all the points at issue and provide an effective response and appropriate redress;
- provide information to school’s senior management team and governors so that services can be improved.
The complaints process
For a general complaint
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. Most matters of concern can be dealt with in this way. All teachers work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school, and is making good progress; they always want to know if there is a problem, so that they can take action before the problem seriously affects the child’s progress. Class teachers are busy in the morning they have to greet and settle the children into schools so please best to make an appointment to see the teacher in the evening or at an appropriate time.
Where a parent feels that a situation has not been resolved through contact with the class teacher, or that their concern is of a sufficiently serious nature, they should make an appointment to discuss it with Mrs Atherton, Headteacher. The Headteacher considers any such complaint very seriously and investigates each case thoroughly. Most complaints are normally resolved at this stage.
Only when an informal complaint fails to be resolved by the Headteacher should a formal complaint be made to the Governing Body. This complaint must be made in writing, stating the nature of the complaint, who has been spoken to already and the preferred outcome. The parent should send the complaint to the Chair of Governors the school office.
For a complaint about the Headteacher
If a parent is concerned about anything to do with the behaviour, leadership or management of the Headteacher, they should in the first instance discuss it with the Headteacher; most matters of concern can be resolved positively in this way.
Where a parent feels that a situation has not been resolved through contact with the Headteacher, or that their concern is of a sufficient serious nature, they should make an appointment to discuss it with the Chair of the Governing Body. This can be done through the school office. The Chair will consider all matter of concern very seriously and investigate each case thoroughly. Most complaints will be resolved at this stage.
Only if an informal complaint fails to resolve the matter should a formal complaint be made to the governing body. This complaint must be made in writing, stating the nature of the complaint and how the school has handled it so far. It should state when, who and where meetings have already taken place and the preferred outcome. The parent should send this written complaint to the Chair of Governors via the school office.
Governing Body Complaints Committee
The governing body must consider all written complaints within 21 school working days of receipt. A letter is forwarded to the Clerk of the Governing Body, who will establish a complaints panel, consisting of 3 Governors. During the meeting there will be discussion about the complaint, and invite the person making it to attend the meeting, so that s/he can explain her complaint in more detail. The school gives the complainant at least five days’ notice of the meeting. If the complainant cannot attend the meeting on the suggested date a further date will be given. If the complainant can’t make a second or third date a meeting will proceed without the complainant present.
The Headteacher will write a report addressing the complaint and ensure that the complaints panel members and the complainant receive a copy of this.
The complainant is invited to write a report addressing the issue and must ensure that this is sent to the Clerk, who in turn will forward this to the complaints panel members and the Headteacher. This will be done 2 working days before the meeting. Other written evidence will not be accepted in the meeting, except in exceptional circumstances. Check list for a panel hearing must take into account the following points;
The hearing is as informal as possible;
After introductions the complainant is invited to state their complaint, they are able to bring support in the form of an advocate if required;
The panel members and the Headteacher will be invited to ask questions related to the complaint;
The Headteacher or Chair of Governors is then invited to explain the schools’ actions. They can have the support of the Deputy Headteacher or other supporter if required.
The panel members or complainant may ask questions;
The panel members or complainant is then invited to sum up the complaint;
The Headteacher is then invited to sum up the school’s actions and the response to the complaint;
The Chair of the panel explains that both parties will hear within 5 working days;
Both parties leave the meeting while the panel discusses the issues. When the panel has fully investigated the complaint, the chair of the panel, on behalf of the governing body will write to the complainant confirming the outcome of the complaint and any agreed action to be taken.
The panel can:
Dismiss the complaint.
Uphold the complaint in whole or in part.
Decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint.
Recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not occur.
At each stage the panel will investigating the complaint will ensure that they establish what the complaint is. What has happened so far, and who has been involved. They will clarify the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved. Clarify what the complainant feels would put things right.
Resolving the Complaint
At each stage in the procedure we will look for a way in which the complaint can be resolved. It might be sufficient to acknowledge that the complaint is valid in part or whole. In addition, it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:
An admission that the situation could have been handled better.
An assurance that the event complained is unlikely to occur again.
An explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again.
An undertaking to review school policy in light of the complaint.
From 1st August 2012 complaints about maintained schools not resolved by the school that would have been considered by the Local Government Ombudsman or the LA should be addressed to the Secretary of State for Education. The Secretary of State or another member of the Department’s ministerial team can be contacted by email at : firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 02079255065.
Monitoring and review
The governors monitor the complaints procedure, in order to ensure that all complaints are handled properly. Governors examine complaints on an termly basis.
Governors take into account any local or national decisions that affect the complaints process, and make any modifications necessary to this policy. This policy is made available to all parents, so that they can be properly informed about the complaints process.
Review date: March 2021