|Last Reviewed:||Summer 2019||Next Review:||Summer 2020|
|Committee Responsibility:||Finance and Personnel committee||Approved on:||Summer 2019|
|Approved By:||Governing Body|
Our school aims to meet its statutory obligations when responding to complaints from parents of pupils at the school, and others.
When responding to complaints, we aim to:
We try to resolve concerns or complaints by informal means wherever possible. Where this is not possible, formal procedures will be followed.
The school will aim to give the complainant the opportunity to complete the complaints procedure in full.
To support this, we will ensure we publicise the existence of this policy and make it available on the school website.
Throughout the process, we will be sensitive to the needs of all parties involved, and make any reasonable adjustments needed to accommodate individuals.
This document meets the requirements of section 29 of the Education Act 2002, which states that schools must have and make available a procedure to deal with all complaints relating to their school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides.
It is also based on guidance for schools on complaints procedures from the Department for Education (DfE), including the model procedure, and model procedure for dealing with unreasonable complaints.
It also refers to good practice guidance on setting up complaints procedures from the Department for Education (DfE).
In addition, it addresses duties set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework with regards to dealing with complaints about the school’s fulfilment of Early Years Foundation Stage requirements.
The DfE guidance explains the difference between a concern and a complaint:
The school intends to resolve complaints informally where possible, at the earliest possible stage.
There may be occasions when complainants would like to raise their concerns formally. This policy outlines the procedure relating to handling such complaints.
This policy does not cover complaints procedures relating to:
Please see our separate policies for procedures relating to these types of complaint.
Arrangements for handling complaints from parents of children with special educational needs (SEND) about the school’s support are within the scope of this policy. Such complaints should first be made to the class teacher then the SENCO or Head teacher they will then be referred to this complaints policy. Our SEND policy and information report] includes information about the rights of parents of pupils with disabilities who believe that our school has discriminated against their child.
Complaints about services provided by other providers who use school premises or facilities should be directed to the provider concerned.
4.1 The complainant
The complainant will get a more effective and timely response to their complaint if they:
4.2 The investigator
An individual will be appointed to look into the complaint and establish the facts. They will:
4.3 Clerk to the governing board
The clerk will:
4.4 Committee chair
The committee chair will:
When investigating a complaint, we will try to clarify:
5.1 Time scales
The complainant must raise the complaint within 3 months of the incident. If the complaint is about a series of related incidents, they must raise the complaint within 3 months of the last incident.
We will consider exceptions to this time frame in circumstances where there were valid reasons for not making a complaint at that time and the complaint can still be investigated in a fair manner for all involved.
When complaints are made out of term time, we will consider them to have been received on the next school day.
If at any point we cannot meet the time scales we have set out in this policy, we will:
5.2 Complaints about our fulfilment of early years requirements
We will investigate all written complaints relating to the school’s fulfilment of the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements, and notify the complainant of the outcome within 28 days of receiving the complaint. The school will keep a record of the complaint (see section 10) and make this available to Ofsted on request.
Parents and carers can notify Ofsted if they believe that the school is not meeting Early Years Foundation Stage requirements, by calling 0300 123 4234 or 0300 123 4666, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. An online contact form is also available at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted#org-contacts.
We will notify parents and carers if we become aware that the school is to be inspected by Ofsted. We will also supply a copy of the inspection report to parents and carers of children attending the setting on a regular basis.
6.1 Stage 1: informal
The school will take informal concerns seriously and make every effort to resolve the matter quickly. It may be the case that the provision or clarification of information will resolve the issue.
The complainant should raise the complaint as soon as possible with the relevant member of staff or the headteacher as appropriate, either in person or by letter, telephone or email. If the complainant is unclear who to contact or how to contact them, they should contact the school office either by email email@example.com or in writing to Diseworth C of E Primary school, Grimes Gate, Diseworth, DE742QD, 01332810208
The school will acknowledge informal complaints within 3 school days, and investigate and provide a response within 3 school days.
The informal stage will involve a meeting between the complainant and the class teacher or Head teacher as appropriate.
If the complaint is not resolved informally, it will be escalated to a formal complaint.
6.2 Stage 2: formal
Formal complaints can be raised:
The complainant should provide details such as relevant dates, times, and the names of witnesses of events, alongside copies of any relevant documents, and what they feel would resolve the complaint.
If complainants need assistance raising a formal complaint, they can contact the school office (see above)
The headteacher will call a meeting to clarify concerns, and seek a resolution. The complainant may be accompanied to this meeting, and should inform the school of the identity of their companion in advance.
In certain circumstances, the school may need to refuse a request for a particular individual to attend any such meeting – for example, if there is a conflict of interest. If this is the case, the school will notify the complainant as soon as they are aware, so that the complainant has the opportunity to arrange alternative accompaniment.
The headteacher (or other person appointed by the headteacher for this purpose) will then conduct their own investigation. The written conclusion of this investigation will be sent to the complainant within 5 school days.
If the complainant wishes to proceed to the next stage of the procedure, they should inform the clerk to the governing board within 5 school days. Requests received outside of this time frame will be considered in exceptional circumstances.
How to escalate a complaint
Complaints can be escalated by contacting the clerk to the governing board:
The clerk will need the details of the complaint as set out above, as well as details from the complainant on how they feel the previous stage of the procedure has not addressed their complaint sufficiently, and what they feel would resolve the complaint.
6.3 Stage 3: submit the complaint to the review panel
Convening the panel
The review panel consists of the first 3 members of the governing board available, who don’t have direct knowledge of the complaint. These individuals will have access to the existing record of the complaint’s progress (see section 10). The governors will select a panel chair from amongst themselves.
If not enough impartial governors are available, we will seek panel members from other schools, the local authority. We will make sure the governors we source are suitably skilled and can demonstrate that they are independent and impartial.
The complainant must have reasonable notice of the date of the review panel; however, the review panel reserves the right to convene at their convenience rather than that of the complainant. The clerk will aim to find a date within 10 school days of the request, where possible.
If the complainant rejects the offer of 3 proposed dates without good reason, the clerk will set a date. The hearing will go ahead using written submissions from both parties.
Any written material will be circulated to all parties at least[5 school days before the date of the meeting.
At the meeting
At the review panel meeting, the complainant and representatives from the school, as appropriate, will be present. Each will have an opportunity to set out written or oral submissions prior to the meeting.
The complainant must be allowed to attend the panel hearing and be accompanied by a suitable companion if they wish. We don’t encourage either party to bring legal representation but will consider it on a case-by-case basis. For instance, if a school employee is called as a witness in a complaint meeting, they may wish to be supported by their union.
At the meeting, each individual will have the opportunity to give statements and present their evidence, and witnesses will be called as appropriate to present their evidence.
The panel, the complainant and the school representative will be given the chance to ask and reply to questions. Once the complainant and school representatives have completed presenting their cases, they will be asked to leave and evidence will then be considered.
The panel will then put together its findings and recommendations from the case. The panel will also provide copies of the minutes of the hearing and the findings and recommendations to the complainant and, where relevant, the subject of the complaint, and make a copy of the findings and recommendations available for inspection by the headteacher.
The committee can:
If the complaint is upheld, the committee will:
The school will inform those involved of the decision in writing within 5 school days.
7.1 Stage 1: informal
Complaints made against the headteacher or any member of the governing board should be directed to the clerk to the governing board in the first instance.
If the complaint is about the headteacher or one member of the governing board (including the chair or vice-chair), a suitably-skilled and impartial governor will carry out the steps at stage 1 (set out in section 6 above).
7.2 Stage 2: formal
If the complaint is jointly about the chair and vice-chair, the entire governing board or the majority of the governing board, an independent investigator will carry out the steps in stage 2 (set out in section 6 above). They will be appointed by the governing board and will write a formal response at the end of their investigation.
7.3 Stage 3: review panel
If the complaint is jointly about the chair and vice-chair, the entire governing board or the majority of the governing board, a committee of independent governors will hear the complaint. They will be sourced from local schools, the local authority and will carry out the steps at stage 3 (set out in section 6 above).
If the complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the school’s complaints procedure, they can refer their complaint to the School Complaints Unit (SCU), which investigates complaints relating to maintained schools on behalf of the secretary of state.
The SCU will not re-investigate the matter of the complaint. It will look at whether the school’s complaints policy and any other relevant statutory policies that the school holds were adhered to. The SCU also looks at whether the school’s statutory policies adhere to education legislation. It may direct the school to re-investigate the complaint where it is clear the school has acted unlawfully or unreasonably.
For more information or to refer a complaint, see the following webpage:
We will include this information in the outcome letter to complainants.
We will include this information in the outcome letter to complainants.
If the complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the school’s complaints procedure and the complaint is regarding the school not meeting standards set by the DfE in any of the following areas, the complainant can refer their complaint to the DfE:
The DfE will consider reports of a major failure to meet the standards. Where appropriate, it can arrange an emergency inspection to look at pupil welfare and health and safety, and make sure that the school deals with serious failings.
For more information or to refer a complaint, see the following webpage:
9.1 Unreasonably persistent complaints
Most complaints raised will be valid, and therefore we will treat them seriously. However, a complaint may become unreasonable if the person:
Steps we will take
We will take every reasonable step to address the complainant’s concerns, and give them a clear statement of our position and their options. We will maintain our role as an objective arbiter throughout the process, including when we meet with individuals. We will follow our complaints procedure as normal (as outlined above) wherever possible.
It the complainant continues to contact the school in a disruptive way, we may put communications strategies in place. We may:
We may stop responding to the complainant when all of these factors are met:
Where we stop responding, we will inform the individual that we intend to do so. We will also explain that we will still consider any new complaints they make.
In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, we will immediately inform the police and communicate our actions in writing. This may include barring an individual from our school site.
9.2 Duplicate complaints
If we have resolved a complaint under this procedure and receive a duplicate complaint on the same subject from a partner, family member or other individual, we will assess whether there are aspects that we hadn’t previously considered, or any new information we need to take into account.
If we are satisfied that there are no new aspects, we will:
If there are new aspects, we will follow this procedure again.
9.3 Complaint campaigns
Where the school receives a large volume of complaints about the same topic or subject, especially if these come from complainants unconnected with the school, the school may respond to these complaints by:
If complainants are not satisfied with the school’s response, or wish to pursue the complaint further, the normal procedures will apply.
The school will record the progress of all complaints, including information about actions taken at all stages, the stage at which the complaint was resolved, and the final outcome. The records will also include copies of letters and emails, and notes relating to meetings and phone calls.
This material will be treated as confidential and held centrally, and will be viewed only by those involved in investigating the complaint or on the review panel.
This is except where the secretary of state (or someone acting on their behalf) or the complainant requests access to records of a complaint through a freedom of information (FOI) request or through a subject access request under the terms of the Data Protection Act, or where the material must be made available during a school inspection.
Records of complaints will be kept securely, only for as long as necessary and in line with data protection law, our privacy notices and record retention schedule.
The details of the complaint, including the names of individuals involved, will not be shared with the whole governing board in case a review panel needs to be organised at a later point.
Where the governing board is aware of the substance of the complaint before the review panel stage, the school will (where reasonably practicable) arrange for an independent panel to hear the complaint.
Complainants also have the right to request an independent panel if they believe there is likely to be bias in the proceedings. The decision to approve this request is made by the governing board, who will not unreasonably withhold consent.
The governing board will review any underlying issues raised by complaints with the headteacher , where appropriate, and respecting confidentiality, to determine whether there are any improvements that the school can make to its procedures or practice to help prevent similar events in the future.
The Finance and Personnel committee will monitor the effectiveness of the complaints procedure in ensuring that complaints are handled properly. The same committee will track the number and nature of complaints, and review underlying issues as stated in section 11.
The complaints records are logged and managed by the headteacher
This policy will be reviewed by The Finance and Personnel Committee every year each review, the policy will be approved by The Finance and personnel committee.
Policies dealing with other forms of complaints include: