School and Academy Complaints Policy and Procedure - Information for complainants

Schools and Academies must have a Complaints Policy and Procedure. These documents set out their approach to dealing with complaints and a step-by-step guide on how concerns or complaints will be handled. The policy and procedures documents must be displayed on their website and obtainable via the school/academy.

Complainants are advised to obtain a copy of these documents and follow the school/academy complaints policy and procedures.

Complaints Policy

Schools and Academies should have a complaints policy that is a summary of the approach they take in handling concerns and complaints. This should not be confused with a set of complaints procedures, which prescribe the steps to be taken in handling complaints.

A school’s complaints policy statement should:

  • be easily accessible and publicised (for example, within their school prospectus);
  • be a concise statement of how the school /academy deals with concerns and complaints, whether from parents or other legal representatives of your pupils, or from members of the community.

Complaints Procedures

The complaints procedures should:

  • be well publicised and easily accessible;
  • be simple to understand and use;
  • encourage the resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
  • be impartial;
  • establish time limits for action and keeping people informed of progress
  • be non-adversarial;
  • respect people's confidentiality;
  • ensure full and fair investigations where necessary;
  • address all points of issue, provide an effective response and appropriate redress where necessary

Governing bodies can decide on the number of stages in the complaints procedure. Most will have three or four well-defined stages. There should be an informal stage as well as at least two formal stages.

Informal stage - dealing with concerns

Initial concerns are heard by a class teacher, head of year or another appropriate member of staff on an informal basis, either in person, by telephone or in writing.

Formal stage one

Where a formal written complaint is considered by the headteacher (or representative), or a governor. - If the complaint is about the headteacher it is investigated by the chair of governors or nominated governor. If the complaint is about the chair of governors or any other member of the governing body it is investigated by the governing body.

Formal stage two

If formal stage one has been worked through and the complainant is unhappy with the way in which their complaint has been handled or the outcome, the case can be referred to a panel of governors of at least three governors. The panel will undertake a review of the investigation carried out at formal stage one to consider the way the complaint has been investigated and handled. This stage does not involve a rehearing of the complaint.

Secretary of State Review (Maintained Schools)

Having exhausted the previous stages, complaints can finally be taken to the Secretary of State for Education who will intervene but only on the grounds that the governing body has acted unlawfully or unreasonably or have not followed its own procedures.

Education Funding Agency (Academies)

The EFA will look at complaints about academies if there is undue delay or non-compliance with an academy’s own complaints procedure or the academy’s failure to comply with a duty imposed on it under its funding agreement.

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