This policy should be used in conjunction with the DFE Guidance Best Practice Advice for School Complaints Procedures 2016
Appendix 1: Complaints not in scope of the procedure
Appendix 2: Summary for Dealing with Complaints
Appendix 3: Complaint Form
Under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, Governing Bodies of all maintained schools in England have been required to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school. The law also requires the procedure to be publicised.
The majority of issues raised by parents, the community or pupils, are concerns rather than complaints. Maytree School is committed to taking informal concerns seriously, at the earliest stage, in order to keep the number of formal complaints to a minimum and without needing formal procedures. However, formal complaints should always follow the complaints procedure.
It is helpful if, at the outset, both parties (i.e. the Complainant and the School) can be clear about 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’.
The School does take informal concerns seriously and concerns raised orally will often be dealt with swiftly and easily
The prime aim of Maytree School’s policy is to resolve complaints impartially, sensitively, confidentially and in a timely manner.
We will always put the interests of our children above all else and aim to resolve any complaint through dialogue and mutual understanding.
Malicious complaints may incur appropriate action by the school.
Our complaints procedure should:
Encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
Be easily accessible and publicised
Be simple to understand and use
Allow swift handling with established time-limits for action and keeping people
Informed of the progress
Ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary
Respect people’s desire for confidentiality
Address all the points at issue and provide an effective response and Appropriate redress, where necessary
Provide information to the school’s Senior Leadership Team so that services can be improved
The complaints procedure must not suggest that a complaint can only be escalated to the next stage if the school permits it
The following details outline the stages that can be used to resolve complaints.
The Maytree School Complaints Policy has four main stages.
In summary they are as follows: -
Stage 1 (informal): complaint heard by staff member (though not the subject of the complaint)
Stage 2 (formal): complaint heard by headteacher
Stage 3 (formal): complaint heard by Chair of Governors
Stage 4 (formal): complaint heard by Governing Body’s complaints appeal panel
For a general complaint:
If a complainant is concerned about anything to do with the education or support that we are providing at our school, they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with their child’s class teacher; most matters of concern can be resolved positively in this way. All teachers work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school, and is making good progress; they naturally want to know if there is a problem, so that they can take action before it seriously affects the child’s progress. If, in any circumstance, a complainant indicates that he/she would have difficulty discussing a complaint with a particular member of staff, the headteacher can refer the complaint to another staff member without this moving to Stage 2.
Where a complainant feels that a situation has not been resolved through Stage 1 or that their concern is of a sufficiently serious nature, they should make an appointment to discuss it with the Headteacher. The Headteacher will consider all matters of concern very seriously and investigate each case thoroughly. Most complaints would normally be resolved at this stage.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the response of the Headteacher, they should write to the Chair of Governors to request their complaint is considered further.
If the complainant remains unsatisfied, details of the complaint, in writing should be forwarded to the Clerk to the Governing Body asking that it is put before the appeal panel. A Governing Body appeals complaints panel will then be convened.
For a complaint about the Headteacher:
Step 1 If a complainant is concerned about anything to do with the behaviour, leadership or management of the Headteacher, they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with the Headteacher; most matters of concern can be resolved positively in this way.
Step 2 Where a complainant feels that a situation has not been resolved through contact with the Headteacher, or that their concern is of a sufficiently serious nature, they should make an appointment to discuss it with the chair of the governing body. The chair will consider all matters of concern very seriously and investigate each case thoroughly. Most complaints would normally be resolved at this stage.
Step 3 Only when an informal complaint fails to be resolved by the chair should a formal complaint be made to the governing body. This complaint must be made in writing, stating the nature of the complaint, who has been spoken to already and the preferred outcome. The complainant should send this written complaint to the governing body via the school office.
Complaints against the Chair of Governors or any individual governor should be made by writing to the Clerk to the Governing Body.
Governing body complaints committee
The governing body must consider all written complaints within 21 school working days of receipt.
The Chair of Governors will nominate a governor to co-ordinate the procedure and will appoint a Appeals panel consisting of 3 governors who are not employees of the school. The nominated coordinator will chair the complaints panel.
The co-ordinator will arrange a meeting of the complaints panel to discuss the complaint and will invite the person making it to attend the meeting so that they can explain the complaint in more detail. The school will give the complainant at least five days’ notice of the meeting. If the complainant cannot attend the suggested date, a further date will be set. If the complainant does not attend the second date, a third and final date will be set, at which time the meeting will proceed without the complainant present.
The Headteacher will write a report addressing the complaint and ensure that the appeals panel members and the complainant receive a copy 4 days before the meeting. (If it is a complaint about the Headteacher, the Chair of Governors will write the report).
The complainant is invited to write a report addressing the issue and must ensure that the complaints panel members and the Headteacher (or Chair of Governors) receives a copy 2 days before the meeting. Other written evidence will be not be accepted at the meeting, except in exceptional circumstances.
Check list for a panel hearing
The panel must take the following points into account:
The hearing is as informal as possible
After introductions, the complainant is invited to explain their complaint (with the support of parent partnership or other advocate if required)
The panel members and Headteacher (or Chair of Governors) may ask questions
The Headteacher (or Chair of Governors) is then invited to explain the school’s actions (with support of DHT, Senco or other supporter if required)
The panel members or complainant may ask questions
The complainant is then invited to sum up their complaint
The Headteacher (or Chair of Governors) is then invited to sum up the school’s actions and response to the complaint
The chair of the panel explains that both parties will hear from the panel within 3 working days
Both parties leave the meeting while the panel decides on the issues
When the panel has fully investigated the complaint, the chair of the panel, on behalf of the governing body, will write to the complainant confirming the outcome of the complaint and any agreed action to be taken. The panel can:
Dismiss the complaint in whole or in part
Uphold the complaint in whole or in part
Decide on 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 recur
At each stage, the panel investigating the complaint should make sure that they:
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
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
At each stage in the procedure we will look for a way in which a complaint can be resolved. It might be sufficient to acknowledge that the complaint is valid in whole or in part. In addition, it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:
An admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better
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
It should be noted that an admission that the school could have handled the situation better is not the same as an admission of negligence.
The Governing Body will review all complaints and recommended actions annually at a Full Governing Body Meeting. Any recommended actions will be forwarded to the appropriate committee for continued monitoring.
From 1 August 2012 complaints about maintained schools not resolved by the school that would have been considered by the Local Government Ombudsman or the LA should be addressed to the Secretary of State for Education.
The Secretary of State or another member of the Department’s ministerial team can be contacted by email at: email@example.com or by telephone: 020 7925 5065
Policy reviewed every 3 years
Review Date: Summer 2019
Complaints not in scope of the procedure
A complaints procedure should cover all complaints about any provision of facilities or services that a school provides with the exceptions listed below, for which there are separate (statutory) procedures
Who to contact
• Admissions to schools
• Statutory assessments of Special Educational Needs (SEN)
• School re-organisation proposals
• Matters likely to require a Child Protection Investigation
Concerns should be raised direct with local
For school admissions, it will depend on who is
the admission authority (either the school or the
LA). Complaints about admission appeals for
maintained schools are dealt with by the Local
• Exclusion of children from school
Further information about raising concerns about
exclusion can be found at: www.gov.uk/schooldiscipline-exclusions/exclusions
Schools have an internal whistleblowing
procedure for their employees and voluntary staff. Other concerns can be raised direct with Ofsted by telephone on: 0300 123 3155, via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by
Manchester M1 2WD.
The Department for Education is also a prescribed body for whistleblowing in education.
• Staff grievances and disciplinary
These matters will invoke the school’s internal grievance procedures. Complainants will not be
informed of the outcome of any investigation
• Complaints about services provided by other providers who may use school premises or facilities.
Providers should have their own complaints procedure to deal with complaints about service.
They should be contacted direct.
Summary for Dealing with Complaints
Please complete and return to ………………………….. (SLT/Headteacher) who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken.
Your relationship to the pupil:
Day time 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.
Date acknowledgement sent:
Complaint referred to: