Complaints PolicyOur Complaints Policy can be viewed below
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Making a Complaint
Like all organisations we are not perfect, although that is our aim. Occasionally we make mistakes which may affect you, or your child. It is important, therefore, that you know how to make a complaint. While many such concerns are resolved informally, the following summary sets out the stages of the school complaints procedure.
Our policy takes account of best practice advice from the Department for Education. All complaints will be treated confidentially and investigations will be conducted with an open mind. The complainant will be kept fully informed at all stages of the process and we will ensure that all people involved are aware of the relevant legislation around complaints.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Who can make a complaint?
The right to make a complaint is not limited to parents or carers of pupils registered at the school. A complaint can be made by a member of the wider community or a person representing an ex-pupil.
What can a person complain about?
A person can make a complaint about most areas of the school including any community facilities or services the school provides. However, the following areas have their own separate procedures which must be used:
• Collective worship
• Staff grievances
• Disciplinary Procedures
• Special Needs (SEND)
The stages of the complaints process
You can make an appointment to speak to the member(s) of staff concerned. You may also wish to refer your concerns on to the relevant line manager. In many instances, complaints can be resolved at this early, informal stage.
If you feel that your complaint has not been, or cannot be, resolved through informal discussion, you should use the formal complaints process.
Our formal complaints process has three school stages:
STAGE 1 – HEADTEACHER
You must complete the complaints form [hyperlink to form] and send this to the Headteacher.
The Headteacher will normally investigate your complaint within 10 school days of the complaint being received. The timescale for completing any necessary investigations may be extended by notifying you in writing of the extension and the reasons for it.
The Headteacher will contact you within 3 school days of the completed initial investigation to arrange a meeting.
At the meeting, the Headteacher will aim to resolve the complaint and agree any necessary actions with the complainant. This will be followed by a letter summarising any agreed outcomes or actions to be taken.
If you are still not satisfied, or your complaint is about the Headteacher, you have the right to refer your complaint to the Chair of Governors.
STAGE 2 – CHAIR OF GOVERNORS
The Chair of Governors will acknowledge receipt of your complaint. The Chair of Governors will then review your complaint and any initial investigation. The Chair may also carry out a further investigation or commission another person to do so on his/her behalf. In the case of a complaint about the Headteacher, the Chair will carry out an initial investigation or commission an independent person to do so.
If your complaint is about the Chair of Governors, this will be investigated by the Vice-Chair following the same process.
Any investigation at this stage will normally be carried out within 10 school days of receipt of the complaint by the Chair. As with Stage 1, the timescale for completing the investigation may be extended by notifying you in writing of the extension and the reason for it.
Once the investigation has been completed, the Chair will write to you within 3 school days with a formal response. If you wish, you may request a meeting to discuss the response.
If you are dissatisfied with the Chair’s response, you can write to the Clerk to the Governing Body within 10 school days to request that the complaint be referred to the Governing Body Complaints Committee (Stage 3).
STAGE 3 – GOVERNING BODY COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE MEETING
The Clerk will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and confirm that a panel meeting will be convened within 20 school days. As with Stages 1 and 2, this timescale may be extended if there are good reasons and you will be advised if this is necessary. You will also be advised of the timeframes in which documentation for the meeting and the names of any witnesses you may wish to call must be provided to the Clerk.
The Complaints Committee panel will comprise 3 governors who have not had any prior involvement in the complaint or the circumstances surrounding it. This will ensure that the meeting is independent and impartial. In cases where all members of the Governing Body have prior knowledge, an independent panel will be convened by the Clerk.
The Clerk will liaise with all parties to find a convenient date, time and venue for the meeting and final details will be notified to you in writing at least 10 working days before the meeting.
If the Committee feels that any further investigation is needed, it may commission this from another person such as a senior member of staff (not involved in the complaint), a governor or an independent person.
Any new investigation report should be available for circulation 7 working days before the meeting. You may also submit a written statement or additional documents for circulation 7 working days before the meeting. If either party wishes witnesses to be called, they must notify the Clerk 7 working days before the meeting.
All papers and details of witnesses to be called will be made available to the Committee, the complainant and the Headteacher at least 3 working days before the meeting. The Clerk will also advise you of the structure of the meeting.
Members of the Committee will not discuss the meeting papers or details of the complaint with any other people prior to the meeting. The meeting will be held in private bearing in mind your right to confidentiality.
At the meeting, all parties will be treated with respect and care will be taken to ensure that the setting is not confrontational or adversarial. If a child is the complainant or is giving evidence, the Committee will give particularly careful consideration to the atmosphere and proceedings to ensure that the child does not feel intimidated. The views of children will be given equal consideration to those of adults.
The meeting may be adjourned if new evidence or witnesses are brought to allow for additional time to consider this new information. Where the complaint is complex, the committee may also decide to adjourn and reconvene at a later date to give sufficient time to review the evidence.
The Committee can decide:
- To dismiss the complaint in whole or in part;
- To uphold the complaint in whole or in part;
- To decide on appropriate action to resolve the complaint;
- To recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that similar problems do not recur.
Following the meeting, the Chair of the Committee will write to inform the complainant of its decision within 5 working days of the end of the meeting. As with earlier stages, this timescale may be extended if there is a good reason to do so.
The Clerk will produce and circulate draft minutes of the proceedings within 20 school days after the meeting to provide both parties with the opportunity to agree or challenge this record.
The Clerk will ensure that all final records are stored centrally and the outcome of the complaint and any changes to systems or procedures are communicated to the Governing Body.
This is the final stage of the school’s formal complaints process.
APPEAL STAGE – DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION
If you believe that the school’s complaints procedure was not followed appropriately, the final stage of appeal is to the Secretary of State for Education through the School Complaints Unit at the Department for Education. Complainants should note that the Department will not re-investigate the substance of the complaint as this remains the responsibility of schools.
The School Complaints Unit will:
- examine if the complaints policy and any other relevant policies were followed in accordance with the provisions set out; and
- examine policies to determine if they adhere to education legislation.
If a Complainant feels that relevant school policies do not adhere to education legislation or that the school did not properly follow the complaints policy and procedure, the complainant can write to:
The School Complaints Unit
Department for Education
2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate
Procedure for Person Investigating a Complaint
Any person investigating a complaint should adhere to the following procedure:
- establish what has happened so far, and who has been involved;
- clarify the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved;
- meet with the complainant or contact them (if unsure or further information is necessary);
- clarify what the complainant feels would put things right;
- interview those involved in the matter and/or those complained of, allowing them to be accompanied if they wish;
- conduct the interview with an open mind and be prepared to persist in the questioning;
- keep notes of the interview or arrange for an independent note taker to record minutes of the meeting.
- Identify areas of agreement
- Clarify any misunderstandings
- Encourage complainants to state what actions they feel might resolve the problem at any stage
- Offering one or more of the following may result in a resolution of the matter:
- an acknowledgment that the complaint is valid in whole or in part;
- an apology;
- an explanation;
- an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better (this is not the same as an admission of negligence);
- an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
- an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again;
- an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint.
PROCEDURES FOR CONDUCT OF THE MEETING
Set out below is a procedure that the Committee can follow for the conduct of the meeting:
a) Prior to the meeting, the Committee will:
- nominate a Committee Chair
- consider whether the setting is sufficiently informal and whether every effort has been made to put complainants and witnesses at ease; and
- consider any issues with children being involved in the proceedings.
b) At the beginning of the meeting the Committee Chair will:
- welcome the parties to the meeting;
- confirm that no committee member has had any previous involvement in the matter;
- explain the remit of the committee to the parties;
- explain that the aim of the meeting is to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant;
- explain that Stage 3 is the final school based stage of the procedure and no further consideration of the substance of the complaint will be possible; and
- ensure that all written material has been received and seen by all parties.
c) The complainant shall explain the nature of her/his complaint and may submit a written statement, to the meeting.
d) The Headteacher and the Committee may question the complainant about the complaint and why it has been made. The Headteacher and the Committee should bear in mind the Resolution Principles in Appendix B and in particular the consideration of what actions the complainant feels may resolve the complaint.
e) If any investigation report has been produced at the request of the Chair of Governors by the Headteacher (or another person) it will be considered. If the report is produced by a person other than the Headteacher, the person may be present at the meeting and answer questions of clarification for the complainant, the Headteacher and Committee. Otherwise the Headteacher will respond to the complaint.
f) The complainant and the Committee may question the Headteacher about her/his response to the complaint.
g) The Committee, the Headteacher and the complainant shall have the right to call witnesses where there are disputes as to the fact. Witnesses are only required to attend for the part of the meeting in which they give their evidence.
h) The Committee, the Headteacher and the complainant shall have the right to question any such witnesses.
i) If a new issue arises the Committee Chair should ensure that all parties are given the opportunity to consider and comment on it.
j) The complainant may make a final statement.
k) The Headteacher may make a final statement.
l) The Chair of the Committee shall explain that the complaint will now be considered and a decision reached which will be notified to the complainant and the Headteacher in writing.
m) The complainant and the Headteacher will then leave the meeting.
n) The Committee will consider the complaint and the cases made by the complainant and Headteacher and:
- decide whether to uphold or dismiss the complaint in whole or in part and the reasons for that decision ensuring that all issues are addressed;
- make any key findings of fact;
- decide on any appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint; and
- recommend any changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur.
- o) Notification of the decision will be sent to the complainant and to the Headteacher in writing.
p) The letter sent to the complainant informing her/him of the decision concludes this stage of the procedure.
COMPLAINT FORM: Newington Green Primary School
Please complete and return to the School Office in an enveloped marked ‘Private & Confidential’ to the relevant person listed below:
a) General complaints are referred to the Headteacher and begin at Stage 1 of the complaints process;
b) Complaints against the Headteacher are referred to the Chair of Governors and begin at Stage 2;
c) Complaints against the Chair of Governors are referred to the Vice-Chair and begin at Stage 2.
If there is insufficient space for any items, please attach additional pages, as required.
Pupil’s name (if relevant):
Your relationship to the pupil (if relevant):
Email: Daytime telephone number:
Evening telephone number: Please give details of your complaint:
What action, if any, have you already taken to try and resolve your complaint.
(Who did you speak to and what was the response)?
What actions do you feel might resolve the problem at this stage?
Are you attaching any paperwork? If so, please give details.
Official use only
Date acknowledgement sent:
Complaint referred to:
Reviewed: September 2016