HEALEY FOUNDATION PRIMARY SCHOOL
SCHOOL COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
From September 2003 Governing Bodies of all maintained schools are required, under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school. The law also requires the procedure to be published.
- General Principles
Schools need to be clear about the difference between a concern and a complaint. Taking informal complaints seriously at the earliest stage will reduce the numbers that develop into formal complaints.
The underlying principle is that concerns should be handled without the need for formal procedures. The requirement to have a Complaints Procedure need not undermine efforts to resolve the concern informally. In most cases the class teacher will receive the first approach. It would be helpful if staff are able to resolve the issue on the spot, including apologising where necessary.
These need to be invoked when initial attempts at resolution have failed, and the issue is to be taken further.
This school has nominated a member of the Senior Management Team to have responsibility for dealing with complaints. This will usually be the Headteacher, unless the complaint has been made against them.
An effective Complaints Procedure will:
- Encourage resolution by informal means.
- Be easily accessible and publicised.
- Be simple to understand and use.
- Be impartial
- Be non-adversarial
- Allow swift handling with established time limits for action and keeping people informed
- Ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary
- Respect confidentiality
- Address all points raised and provide an effective and appropriate response.
- Provide information to the Senior Management Team so services can be improved.
The person investigating the complaint should:
- Establish what and who
- Clarify the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved
- Contact the complainant
- Clarify what the complainant feels
- Interview all involved (allowing them to be accompanied)
- Conduct the interview with an open mind
- Keep detailed notes
At each stage a complaint should try to be resolved, or upheld either in whole or in part. It may be appropriate to:
- Admit the situation could have been handled differently.
- Assure the incident will not recur.
- Explain steps taken so far.
- Undertake a review of school policy.
Complainants should be encouraged to state what actions could resolve the problem. An admission the situation could have been handled differently is not an admission of negligence.
An effective procedure will identify areas of agreement. A clarification of misunderstanding can create a positive atmosphere.
If the complainant remains dissatisfied, and all procedures have been followed, the Chair of the Governing Body is able to inform them in writing that the procedures have been exhausted and that the matter is now closed.
Complaints need to be considered and resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. Each stage should have realistic time limits. However, should the complaint persist, new time limits need to be set and the complainant sent details of the new deadlines with an explanation for the delay.
- Formal complaints procedure (see flowchart)
Stage 1: Complaint heard by (another) staff member
Stage 2: Complaint heard by Headteacher
Stage 3: Complaint heard by Governing Body Complaints Panel
- Managing and recording complaints
A complaint may be made in person, by phone or in writing. A complaint form is attached. At the end of the call / letter a brief note should be made to ensure that all parties have the same understanding of what has been discussed and agreed.
All records should be held centrally.
Governing Body review
The GB should monitor nature and level of all complaints. Individuals should not be named.
The process of complaint resolution will contribute to school improvement and evaluation of school performance.
Publicising the procedure
There is a legal requirement for the Complaints Procedure to be publicised;
- School prospectus
- Information given to new parents
- Information given to children
- Home-school agreement
- Bulletins and newsletters
- A complaints leaflet
- School website
A detailed copy of the Complaints Procedure is available from the school office.