Complaints Policy and Procedures

 

Ratified by Governors November 2016

 

School Complaints Procedure

The Foreland School is committed to providing the very best education for our young people and want our pupils to be healthy, happy and safe and to do well. We recognise the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships with parents, carers and the wider community. We are aware that there may be occasions where people have concerns or complaints and the following procedure sets out the steps that should be followed in order to resolve these as quickly and informally as possible.

School governing bodies are required under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002 to have in place a procedure for dealing with complaints relating to the school. This complaints procedure and policy document does NOT cover any concerns or complaints that fall under policies as these are covered by other guidance or pieces of legislation. These include:

It is expected that all complaints will be referred to the school in the first instance and that all stages will be pursued before considering a referral to the Secretary of State for Education (DfE Complaints Unit) if a complainant feels that their complaint has not been dealt with appropriately or remains unresolved.

Complainants are encouraged to follow through each stage of the procedure, as appropriate, in order to resolve their concerns.

 

The difference between a concern and a complaint

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 be generally defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’. (DfE, 2016)

 

Aims and principles of the policy

This policy aims to:

 

Key principles of this policy are:

The governing body will appropriately monitor the nature of the complaints received over each academic year to inform practice and potential improvements to procedures and policies within the school.

 

Upholding or not upholding complaints

At each stage of the complaints procedure the conclusion will be either:

The complainant may choose to take no further action or take their complaint to the next stage.

 

The Stages of the Complaints Process

(flowchart can be found in downloadable document as Appendix 2)

 

Stage 1 – Informal Complaint

Please start by telling the class teacher about your concern. This is usually the best and quickest way of resolving issues. In some cases the class teacher may feel it more appropriate to refer you to a more senior or experienced member of staff who will try to resolve the concern informally.

 

 

Stage 2– Formal Written Complaint

(non- parental / carer complaints are likely to go straight to this stage)

If you feel dissatisfied with the outcome of discussions with the class teacher, you should then contact the Headteacher either by arranging an appointment to see him / her or by putting your complaint in writing. You may use the form attached as appendix 1 to do this.

If you are not using the form, your letter should set out clearly the concern and why you feel the issue has not been resolved through informal channels. It is also helpful if you can set out what resolution you are seeking.

 

 

It may also be the case that the complaint may not have any substance and is therefore considered to be unfounded or unsubstantiated.

The Headteacher will discuss the outcome of their consideration of your complaint with you and should send a detailed response within a maximum of 20 school days. Where this proves to be unrealistic, you will be informed in writing and given an estimate of how long it will take to provide a detailed response.

Where you are unhappy about the decision the Headteacher has made about your complaint, this does not become a complaint about the Headteacher. However, if your complaint is about the conduct of the Headteacher and you feel that it has not been resolved at the informal stage, then you should move directly to Stage 3 of the procedure and write to the Chair of Governors.

 

Stage 3 – Governor Review Panel

If you are not satisfied with the response of the Headteacher, or you have a concern or complaint that is specifically about the Headteacher which has not been resolved informally, then you must write a formal letter of complaint to the Chair of Governors. The school will provide you with the Chair of Governors name, or you can find it on the school’s website. You should either complete the complaints form or write to the Chair of Governors at the school address, marking any envelope “urgent, private and confidential”.

 

 

Stage 4 – Escalation to Secretary of State for Education

If the complainant remains unsatisfied by the outcome of the governor’s panel, they will be advised to contact the Secretary of State for Education. The Secretary of State has a duty to consider all complaints raised but will only intervene where the governing body has acted unlawfully or unreasonably.

The School Complaints Unit considers complaints relating to local authority maintained schools in England on behalf of the Secretary of State. They will look at whether the school’s complaints policy and other relevant statutory policies were adhered to. They will also check whether the school’s policy adheres to education legislation. However the unit will not re-investigate the substance of the complaint. This remains the responsibility of the school. If the Schools Complaints Unit finds that the school has not handled a complaint in accordance with its procedure, the unit may request that the complaint is looked at again.

The School Complaints Unit can be contacted by calling the national helpline on 0370 000 2288 or by going online at: www.education.gov.uk/help/contactus or by writing to:

 

Department for Education

School Complaints Unit

2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate

Store Street

Manchester

M1 2WD

 

Policy for unreasonable complainants

Our school is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who complain. We will not normally limit the contact complainants have with the school. However, we do not expect our staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour and will take action to protect staff from that behaviour, including that which is abusive, offensive or threatening.

The school defines unreasonable complainants as ‘those who, because of the frequency or nature of their contacts with the school, hinder our consideration of their or other people’s complaints’.

Examples: A complaint may be regarded as unreasonable when the person making the complaint:

A complaint may also be considered unreasonable if the person making the complaint does so either face-to-face, by telephone or in writing or electronically:-

Complainants should limit the numbers of communications with a school while a complaint is being progressed. It is not helpful if repeated correspondence is sent (either by letter, phone, email or text) as it could delay the outcome being reached.

Whenever possible, the Headteacher or Chair of Governors will discuss any concerns with the complainant informally before applying an ‘unreasonable’ marking.

If the behaviour continues the Headteacher will write to the complainant explaining that their behaviour is unreasonable and asking them to change it. For complainants who excessively contact the school causing a significant level of disruption, we may specify methods of communication and limit the number of contacts in a communication plan. This will usually be reviewed after 6 months.

In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, the concerns and actions taken will be put in writing immediately and the police informed. This may include banning an individual from school premises.

 

Barring from the School Premises

Although fulfilling a public function, schools are private places. The public has no automatic right of entry. Schools will therefore act to ensure they remain a safe place for pupils, staff and other members of their community. If a parent’s or carer’s behaviour is a cause for concern, a school can ask him/her to leave school premises. In serious cases, the Headteacher or the local authority can notify them in writing that their implied licence to be on school premises has been temporarily revoked subject to any representations that the parent / carer may wish to make. Schools should always give the parent / carer the opportunity to formally express their views on the decision to bar in writing. The decision to bar should then be reviewed, taking into account any representations made by the parent/ carer, and either confirmed or lifted. If the decision is confirmed the parent / carer should be notified in writing, explaining how long the bar will be in place.

Anyone wishing to complain about being barred can do so, by letter or email, to the Headteacher or Chair of Governors. However, complaints about barring cannot be escalated to the Department for Education. Once the school’s own complaints procedure has been completed, the only remaining avenue of appeal is through the Courts; independent legal advice must therefore be sought.

 

Governing Body Approval

 

Scrutinised by the Strategy Team on 11th October 2016.

 

Ratified by the Full Governing Body on 9th November 2016.

 

To be scrutinised by the Strategy Team normally after three years or as changes in legislation / policy dictates.

 

 

Term Dates
Headteacher Welcome