The Headteacher will keep in mind ways in which the complaint can be resolved. It may 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 apology
- an explanation
- an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better (please note this is not an admission of negligence)
- 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 policies and practice in light of the complaint
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”.
- The Chair of Governors or Clerk to the Governing Body will acknowledge receipt of the letter within 5 school days. The acknowledgement will inform the complainant that three members of the school’s governing body will hear the complaint within 20 working days of receiving the complaint. The letter will invite the complainant to attend also explain that the complainant has the right to submit any further documentation relevant to the complaint. The complainant may bring a friend or someone else for support.
- For complaints specifically about the Headteacher, the Chair of Governors
will arrange for the complaint to be investigated, either by him/herself or by
an appropriate independent investigator.
A meeting of the Governors Complaints Panel will be convened. No governors with prior involvement in the issues complained about will be included on the panel and it may be necessary to use reserves (previously agreed by the Governing Body) to ensure the Panel can meet within the set time. An experienced governor will chair the panel meeting. The chair/clerk of the complaints panel will contact the complainant with the arrangements.
Once the panel has been held, the complainant and the school will be informed of their decision within five school working days. If it is not possible to meet these timescales then the chair of the panel will contact both parties to discuss a mutually convenient date. Further information on how the panel operates and the process is attached at appendix 3.
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,
2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate
Policy for unreasonable complainants