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Complaints Policy

Awsworth Primary and Nursery School Complaints Procedure

Listening to Parents, Pupils and the Community

 

If you have a concern or complaint please tell us about it as soon as possible. Most concerns and complaints can be sorted out quickly by speaking with your child's class teacher. Any teacher or member of staff in the school office can help you find the right member of staff. If you have a complaint which you feel should be looked at by the Head Teacher in the first instance you can contact her straightaway if you prefer. It is usually best to discuss the problem face to face. You may need an appointment to do this, and can make one by ringing or calling in to the school office. You can take a friend or relation to the appointment with you if you would like to. All staff will make every effort to resolve your problem informally. They will make sure that they understand what you feel went wrong, and they will explain their own actions to you. They will ask what you would like the school to do to put things right. Of course, this does not mean that in every case they will come round to your point of view but it will help both you and the school to understand both sides of the question. It may also help to prevent a similar problem arising again.

 

 

Introduction

 

Department for Education Best Practice Guidance for School Complaints Procedures 2016

 

Since 1 September 2003 governing bodies of all maintained schools and maintained nursery schools in England have been required, under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, to have in place a procedure to deal with all complaints relating to their school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides. This does not limit complainants to parents or carers of pupils registered at a school. A complainant could be a member of the wider community or representing an ex-pupil. The law also requires the procedure to be publicised.

 

The exceptions to this requirement are complaints relating to the statutory assessments of Special Educational Needs (SEN), school re-organisation proposals, matters likely to require Child Protection investigation, exclusions of children from school, and Admissions, where the Local Authority has statutory responsibilities. The Head Teacher can give information about these and advice on who to contact at Nottinghamshire County Council.

 

There are certain other complaints which fall outside the remit of the governing body’s Complaints Procedure, for example, whistleblowing and staff grievances or disciplinary procedures. Any complaints concerning the conduct of school staff will be handled in accordance with the schools internal disciplinary procedures. The details of such an investigation will remain confidential.

 

Allegations of abuse against a member of the school staff must be reported to the Head Teacher immediately.   Allegations of abuse against the Head Teacher must be reported to the Chair of Governors immediately. In those cases immediate contact will be made by the Head Teacher or the Chair of Governors with the Local Authority Child Protection Officer (LADO).

 

Extended Schools: the governing body ensures that any third party provider offering activities and services through the extended schools programme has their own complaints procedure in place.  If a third party provider’s complaints process is exhausted and the matter is not resolved it will be referred to a Governors’ Complaints Panel. This ensures that the Governors are kept aware of complaints about provision.

 

General Principles

 

At Awsworth Primary and Nursery School our procedures for dealing with complaints ensures that all complaints are thoroughly and impartially investigated and each level of the procedure provides for concerns and complaints to be resolved as quickly as possible.

 

Our policy is effective by:

 

  • encouraging a resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
  • being easily accessible and publicised;
  • being simple to understand and use;
  • being impartial;
  • being non-adversarial;
  • allowing swift handling with established time-limits for action and keeping people informed of the progress;
  • ensuring a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary;
  • respecting people’s desire for confidentiality;
  • addressing all the points at issue and providing an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary;
  • providing information to the school’s senior management team so that services can be improved.

 

Definitions

 

It is important to make the distinction between a concern and a complaint.  At initial stages a concern may be dealt with informally before it is necessary for a more formal complaints process to begin.  In all circumstances a written record will be kept.

 

A ‘concern’ may be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’.  A complaint may generally be defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.

 

Timescales

 

Complaints will be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible at all times.  We have set out our target response times at each stage of the procedure.  Where further investigations are necessary, new time limits may be set but you will be sent details of a new deadline and an explanation for the delay.

 

 

 

The Stages of the Complaints Procedure

 

Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to invoke formal procedures.  We will take all informal concerns seriously and make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.  If you would like to raise your concerns formally these should be invoked through the stages outlined in our Complaints Procedure.

 

 

Stage 1 (informal) Speak to your child’s class teacher

 

Parents, carers, guardians or pupils should, in the first instance, raise any concerns with the class teacher. He/she will be able to listen to your concerns and hopefully resolve the matter swiftly.  If the complaint cannot be resolved immediately, then he/she can agree with you what action will be taken with a view to resolving the matter. 

 

Your child’s class teacher will be happy to speak to you as soon as possible and every attempt will be made to ensure this happens within 1 – 2 working days.  You will have the opportunity to talk about your concern without being interrupted and discuss what would be a realistic resolution.

 

If you are not happy with the outcome of this informal stage then you can raise a formal complaint by contacting the Head Teacher.  You may proceed straight to Stage 2 if you are not a parent of a child at the school, or if the class teacher is the subject of the complaint.

 

 

Stage 2 (formal):  Complaint heard by the Head Teacher

 

You can set out your complaint in writing in a letter, or email, or if you prefer you can contact the school office to ask for an appointment with the Head Teacher to discuss your complaint in person or by telephone.   It is in everyone’s interest, particularly the child or children, for concerns and complaints to be sorted out quickly and smoothly and the Head Teacher will aim to see you to discuss your complaint within 3 – 5 working days.  The Head Teacher will listen to your complaint, take notes and agree what action she will take next.  This will often involve looking into the matter in more detail and gathering information from other staff within the school.  The Head Teacher may feel that a particular governor’s input would be helpful in bringing about a resolution but there is no obligation for any governor to become involved at this stage.

 

Once the investigation is complete, the Head Teacher will write a letter summarising what has been agreed, usually within 3 – 5 working days to let you know what action has been/or will be taken.

 

 

Stage 3 (formal):  Complaint heard by the Governing Body

 

If you are not satisfied with the response of the Head Teacher, you should contact the governing body to request your complaint is considered further.  Your complaint will then be referred to the nominated Complaints Governor. 

 

In order for the Complaints Governor to fully consider your complaint please use the form attached to this policy (Appendix A) which helps you to set out clearly the issues which have previously been discussed and why you consider the issue to be unresolved.  Additionally you should state what resolution is being sought.  You can request a copy of the form from the school office.  You should return the completed complaint form to the school office in an envelope addressed for the attention of the Complaints Governor. 

 

On receipt of your complaint the Complaints Governor will aim to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 school days and explain what action will be taken.  This will involve:

 

  • Establishing what has happened so far, and who has been involved;
  • Clarifying the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved;
  • Clarifying what you feel would put things right;
  • Interviewing those involved in the matter and/or those complained of, allowing them to be accompanied if they wish;
  • Conducting the interview with an open mind and being prepared to persist in the questioning;
  • Keeping notes of the interview;
  • Considering whether meeting you would be useful;
  • Communicating the outcome and a summary of the investigation to you and ensuring that you are clear that the contents of the investigation remain confidential.

 

The Complaints Governor will write to you detailing the outcome of the investigation and this will normally happen within 15 school days.

 

 

Concerns or complaints specifically about the Head Teacher

 

If the concern or complaint is specifically about the Head Teacher and is unable to be resolved at the informal stage, then it will be necessary for you to formally complain to the Chair of Governors at the school address marking your envelope ‘urgent, private and confidential’.  The Chair of Governors will aim to acknowledge your letter in writing within 5 school days of receipt and will contact a Governor Support Service Officer for advice.

 

A formal complaint against the Chair of Governors, or any individual governor should be made in writing to the Clerk to the Governing Body.

 

Stage 4 (formal):  Governing Body Complaints Appeal Panel

 

If you wish to move to Stage 4 of the formal complaints procedure you should write a letter to the Complaints Governor to request that a Governors’ Complaints Panel meets to hear the complaint.  The letter should be addressed to the Complaints Governor at school and marked urgent and confidential.  The letter should set out the complaint that has previously been discussed with the Head Teacher and Complaints Governor and demonstrate why the matter is not resolved. It should also detail what reasonable actions would resolve the complaint.  The document in Appendix A can be used.  The Complaints Governor will acknowledge your letter within 5 school days.

 

The Complaints Governor, or if the Complaints Governor has been involved at any previous stage in the process, a nominated governor, will convene a complaints panel, made up of 3 members of the governing body who have not previously been involved in the complaint, or the circumstances surrounding it and are therefore independent and impartial. If necessary the complaints panel may be composed of governors from another school within Nottinghamshire County Council.  

The governors appeal hearing is held in private and you will be given the opportunity to put the details of your complaint to the panel in person.  The Head Teacher and the Complaints Governor will also attend to explain what they have done to investigate and resolve your concerns.

 

A clerk will be appointed to manage the appeal hearing and will become the main point of contact for the arrangements. The Clerk will provide the Head Teacher with a copy of your letter, and request written documentation relevant to the complaint from the school. The clerk will send both your letter of complaint and the school documentation to the Governors’

Complaints Panel members, yourself and Head Teacher (and anyone else involved in the meeting) at least 5 school days before the date of the meeting. Both you and the Head Teacher can bring someone to support you if you wish.

 

At the meeting

Information to be considered will be provided by yourself and the Head Teacher and the Governors’ Complaints Panel members will clarify any points.  The Chair of the Panel will then ask all parties to leave except the panel members and the clerk.

 

The remit of the panel having heard evidence from both sides is to do one of the following:

  •  dismiss the complaint in whole or part
  •  uphold the complaint in whole or 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 reoccur

 

After the meeting the Chair of the Panel will notify you in writing of the panel’s decision, (including the reasons of the decision) as soon as possible but within 10 school days of the panel hearing.

 

 

Complaining to the Secretary of State for Education

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the appeal hearing, the final stage of appeal is to the Secretary of State for Education and you should write to:

 

The School Complaints Unit (SCU) at:

Department for Education

2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate

Manchester

M1 2WD

 

If all local procedures have been exhausted, the School Complaints Unit (SCU) will examine if the complaints policy and any other relevant policies were followed in accordance with the provisions set out. SCU also examines policies to determine if they adhere to education legislation. However, the department will not reinvestigate the substance of the complaint. This remains the responsibility of schools.

 

If legislative or policy breaches are found, SCU will report them to the school and yourself and, where necessary, require remedial action to be taken. Failure to carry out remedial actions could ultimately result in a formal Direction being issued by the Secretary of State.

 

The decision of the Governor’s Complaints Panel is final.

Once a Governor’s Complaints Panel has heard a complaint, and it is clear that correct procedures have been followed, that specific complaint cannot be reopened. If a request is received in this respect, the Chair of Governors will inform you that the matter is closed.

 

OFSTED

 

If you are certain that you have exhausted the school’s full complaints procedures as set out above,

then you may wish to fill in an online complaints form: www.ofsted.gov.uk/onlinecomplaints.

 

Ofsted may:

  • decide to take no further action
  • keep a copy of the complaint for the information of the inspection team at the school’s next

inspection

  • send any concerns received about child protection to the social services or the police
  • move an inspection forward to a date earlier than planned
  • arrange an immediate inspection of the school if the concerns are very serious

 

It is important to understand that Ofsted’s role in considering a complaint about a school is solely to determine if there is a need to inspect.  Ofsted cannot seek to resolve or establish cause for any individual complaint. If your concern affects the school as a whole and you have followed all of the existing processes, including complaining to the governing body and local authority, Ofsted have powers to consider some complaints made in writing about schools and they provide an online form for this.

 

 

OFSTED are not able to consider a complaint when there are other statutory (legal) ways of pursuing

it. This includes complaints relating to:

  • admission procedures
  • legal exclusions of individual pupils
  • providing education for individual pupils with special educational needs
  • religious education or the religious character of a school, or
  • temporary changes to the curriculum.

OFSTED are not in a position to:

  • investigate incidents that are alleged to have taken place
  • judge how well a school investigated or responded to a complaint
  • mediate between a parent or carer and a school to resolve a dispute

 

Examples could include:

  • the school is not providing a good enough education
  • the pupils are not achieving as much as they should, or their different needs are not being met
  • the school is not well led and managed, or is inappropriately managing its finances
  • as a group, the pupils’ personal development and well-being are being neglected (as stated

above, Ofsted cannot look at individual cases).

 

 

The Local Government Ombudsman

The Local Government Ombudsman no longer has the power to investigate complaints about the internal management of schools.  However, they can assist with complaints about certain things such as admissions and some aspects of special educational needs.  Further details can be found on the LGO website: http://www.lgo.org.uk/schools/

 

 

 

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