Complaints Procedure

 

 

General Principles:

 

The procedure for dealing with complaints should be:

 

  • Quick and efficient
  • Unambiguous
  • Available to all staff and parents
  • Careful and fair

 

  • An anonymous complaint will not be investigated under this procedure unless there are exceptional circumstances.

 

  • To allow for a proper investigation, complaints should be brought to the attention of the school as soon as possible.   Any matter raised more than 3 months after the event being complained of will not be considered, save in exceptional circumstances.

 

  • All parties to the complaint will be kept informed of progress through the complaints procedure.   The complainant will be informed in writing of a decision taken in the formal complaints stage, the reasons for that decision and any action taken or proposed.

 

  • Records will be kept of all meetings initiated by the complaints form and will be clearly dated.

 

Part A – Complaining about the actions of a member of staff other than the Head Teacher

 

1)         Informal Stage

A person may express dissatisfaction with an aspect of the school, and would be expected to communicate this directly with the relevant member of staff, usually the class teacher.    This may be by letter, by telephone or in person by appointment.    Many concerns can be resolved by simple clarification or by the provision of information and it is anticipated that most complaints will be resolved by this informal stage.   In the case of serious concerns it may be appropriate to address them directly to the Head Teacher 2.   An unreasonable refusal to attempt an informal resolution may result in the procedure being terminated forthwith. [Any dispute in relation to the “reasonableness” may be determined through the review process].

 

2)         Formal Stage

If the complaint is not resolved at the informal stage the complainant must put the complaint in writing and pass it to the Head Teacher2 , who will be responsible for its investigation.3   the complainant should state clearly the nature of the complaint, as other issues raised at a later stage may be considered to form part of a separate complaint.

 

The complainant should include details which might assist the investigation, such as names of potential witnesses, dates and times of events, and copies of relevant documents.

 

The Head Teacher2 will write to the complainant within 5 school days of receiving the complaint, acknowledging receipt of the complaint and giving a timescale within which the investigation should be completed.   This will normally be 4 weeks but may be longer if interrupted by school holidays or if there are practical difficulties in arranging meeting dates.

 

The complainant will be invited to meet with the Head Teacher to discuss or clarify the complaint.   All parties are expected to co-operate in arranging a convenient time to meet.    The complainant may be accompanied by a friend to the meeting.   The Head Teacher will produce a note of the meeting to be agreed if possible with the complainant as a correct record.

 

If the complaint involves a member of staff that person will be provided with a copy of the complaint and informed of the investigation.

 

The Head Teacher2 will collect such other evidence as he/she deems necessary.   Where this involves an interview with a member of staff, who is the subject of the complaint, that member of staff may be accompanied by a friend, union or other representative if they wish.   The Head will produce a note of the meeting to be agreed if possible with the member of staff as a correct record.

 

The investigation will be concluded as soon as possible.   The Head Teacher will attempt to reach a satisfactory settlement with all parties and will inform  the complainant and any member of staff concerned of the outcome in writing.     This may be to the effect that:

 

  • There is insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion, so the complaint cannot be upheld
  • The concern is not substantiated by the evidence
  • The concern was substantiated in part or in full.   Some details may then be given of action the school may be taking to review procedures etc... but details of the investigation or of any disciplinary procedures will not be released.
  • The matter has been fully investigated and that appropriate procedures are being followed, which are strictly confidential.  [e.g. where staff disciplinary procedures are being followed]

 

The complainant will be told that consideration of their complaint by the Head Teacher2 is now concluded.

 

If the complainant is not satisfied with the manner in which the process has been followed, or considers the decision of the Head Teacher to be unreasonable, the complainant may request that the Governing Body review the handling of the complaint by the Head Teacher2.  Any such request must be made in writing within 2 weeks of receiving notice of the outcome from the Head Teacher2, and include a statement specifying the reasons.   The procedure described in Part C will then be followed.

 

Part B – Complaining About the Actions of the Head Teacher

 

1)         Informal Stage

The complainant is usually expected to arrange to speak directly with the Head Teacher.   Many concerns can be resolved by simple clarification or by the provision of information and it is anticipated that most complaints will be resolved by this informal stage.  [In the case of serious concerns it may be appropriate to raise them directly with the Chair of the Governing Body4.  If the matter is not resolved, if both parties agree, then a third party may be invited to act as mediator at a further meeting.   A refusal, unreasonably, to attempt an informal resolution may result in the procedure being terminated forthwith.

 

2)         Formal Stage

If the complaint is not resolved at the informal stage the complainant must put the complaint in writing and pass it the Chair of the Governing Body4.  The complainant should state clearly the nature of the complaint, as other issues raised at a later stage may be considered to form part of a separate complaint.

 

The complainant should include details which might assist the investigation, such as names of potential witnesses, dates and times of events, and copies of relevant documents.

 

The Chair of the Governing Body4 will write to the complainant within 5 school days of receiving the complaint, acknowledging receipt of the complaint and giving a timescale within which the investigation should be completed.    This will normally be 4 weeks but may be longer if interrupted by school holidays or if there are practical difficulties in arranging meeting dates.

 

The complainant will be invited to meet the Chair4 to discuss or clarify the complaint.   All parties are expected to co-operate in arranging a convenient time to meet.   The complainant may be accompanied by a friend to the meeting.   The Chair4 will produce a note of the meeting to be agreed if possible with the complainant as a correct record.

 

The Head Teacher  will be provided with a copy of the complaint and will be informed of the investigation.

 

The Chair4 will collect such other evidence as is deemed necessary.   This may include the interviewing of witnesses and others who may provide relevant information.   The Chair4 may also ask another governor to assist with the investigation.

 

The Head Teacher  will be given a copy of any additional evidence presented by the complainant or collected by the Chair4.   Once there has been an opportunity for the Head Teacher  to consider this, he/she will be invited to meet separately with the Chair4, in order to present written and oral evidence in response.   The Head Teacher2 may be accompanied at this meeting by a friend, union or other representative.   The Chair4 will produce a note of the meeting to be agreed if possible with the Head Teacher  as a correct record.

 

The investigation will be concluded as soon as possible.   The Chair4 will attempt to reach a satisfactory settlement with all parties and will inform the complainant and the Head Teacher of the outcome in writing.   This may be to the effect that:

 

  • There is insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion, so the complaint cannot be upheld
  • The concern is not substantiated by the evidence
  • The concern was substantiated in part or in full.   Some details may then be given of action the school may be taking to review procedures etc ... but details of the investigations or of any disciplinary procedures will not be released.
  • The matter has been fully investigated and that appropriate procedures are being followed, which are strictly confidential.  [e.g. where staff disciplinary procedures are being followed]

 

The complainant will not be informed of any disciplinary action.

 

The complainant will be told that consideration of their complaint by the Chair4 is now concluded.

 

If the complainant is not satisfied with the manner in which the process has been followed, or considers that the decision of the Chair4 is unreasonable, or that the Chair4 has acted unreasonably in considering the complaint, then the complainant may request that the Governing Body review the handling of the complaint by the Chair4.   Any such request must be made in writing within 2 weeks of receiving notice of the outcome from the Chair4, and include a statement specifying any reasons.

 

Part C – Review Process

 

Any review of the process followed by the Head Teacher2 or the Chair4 shall be conducted by a  panel of 3 members of the Governing Body.

 

Within 5 school days of receiving the complainant’s statement, the panel will write to the complainant acknowledging receipt of the complaint and giving a timescale within which the investigation should be completed.    This will normally be 4 weeks but may be longer if interrupted by school holidays or if there are practical difficulties in arranging meeting dates.   The panel will then invite the Head Teacher2 or the Chair4, as appropriate, to make a written response to the complaint.

 

The panel will have access to the records kept of the process followed.

 

The panel will then arrange to meet separately with the Head Teacher2 or the Chair4, as appropriate, and with the complainant, minutes of both meetings to be taken by the LEA.    All parties are expected to co-operate in arranging a convenient time to meet.    The complainant may be accompanied by a friend or other representative at any meeting.   The Head Teacher2 may be accompanied by a friend, union or other representative at any meeting.

 

The complainant, and the Head Teacher2 or the Chair4, as appropriate, will be informed in writing of the outcome.    This may be to the effect that:

 

  • The panel agrees with the decision taken by the Head Teacher2 or the Chair4 as appropriate
  • The panel considers the decision taken by the Head Teacher2 or the Chair4, as appropriate, or part of the decision to be unreasonable or finds that procedures have not been correctly followed, in which case the panel will suggest an alternative resolution to the complaint or to that part of it which is upheld.

 

Footnotes

 

1 or other designated post-holder/middle manager, such as a Key Stage Co-Coordinator, Head of Department, Head of Year.

 

or other designated member of staff on behalf of the Head Teacher [in such case the Head must be satisfied that the process has been conducted properly and accept responsibility for the same]

 

3 alternatively the complainant may be referred back to the informal stage of the procedure

 

4 or designated governor responsible for investigating complaints

 

Notes

 

Written decisions must be either delivered personally or be sent by registered post.

 

The records of a complaint should be retained at the school for a period of 6 years [to consider the question of access to the records relating to the complaint during this period]

 

In conducting interviews, the person investigating the complaint should prepare questions before the interview, although there may be a need to ask supplementary questions during the interview.   The person being interviewed should be asked to confine their responses to the substance of the complaint.    Any attempt by the complainant to introduce new or unrelated information should be discouraged; if necessary the complainant should be informed that the new information would have to form a separate complaint.

 

Where children are potential witnesses, discretion should be exercised over their involvement.   Pupils should only be interviewed when the nature of the complaint is sufficiently serious to warrant it and adult witnesses are not available.   Only in extreme circumstances will younger pupils be interviewed.

 

The full governing body shall be notified that a complaint has been received, of the procedure being followed and of the outcome, but shall not be informed of the substance of the complaint.

 

LA Contact Numbers:

LA

Number

Northumberland

0800 373 615 (Complaints line)

North Tyneside

0345 200 0101 (general)

Newcastle

0191 233 6161 (Children's Services)

Gateshead

0191 433 3000 (general)

Durham

03000 265524 (Children's Services)

Walsall

01922 653383 (Children's Services)