- The Academy is required to have a policy for dealing with parental complaints. The Academy will also deal with complaints from staff and students.
- Complaints can cover a wide variety of matters that concern parents. The Academy expects Parental complaints will be taken seriously and be dealt with comprehensively, confidentially and as far as possible in confidence.
- The Academy’s complaints policy allows parents’ (and others’) complaints about Academy issues to be dealt with efficiently and sensitively, and at the appropriate level.
The policy aims to ensure that:
- all complaints from parents, (and also students and others) are dealt with as promptly and sensitively as possible, and by the person best able to do so;
- as far as possible all concerns will be dealt with as informally as possible;
- staff complaints which cannot be resolved informally will be dealt with through the Academy’s grievance procedure;
- a parent, student or other complainant should expect to have a response, even if not the final response, to their complaint within 5 School days of having made the complaint.
Types of Concerns and Complaints
The majority of complaints from parents and others received by the Academy are likely to fall into the following categories:
- financial and administrative;
- academic (course programme, unsatisfactory teaching, too much/too little homework, progress in a particular subject etc);
- pastoral (discipline/indiscipline, inappropriate sanctions, bullying, overall progress of the student, unhappiness of student etc); and
- safeguarding students/child protection (allegations against staff, handling of sensitive issues).
- The following escalating stages will be followed. Every attempt will be made to resolve complaints informally to the complainant’s satisfaction.
- Stage 1: informal (usually a meeting with the complainant)
- Stage 2: formal (the complaint is put in writing)
- Stage 3: a panel hearing
- In rare circumstances, it may be necessary for a complaint to proceed directly to Stage 2 or 3. The Complaints Co-ordinator will advise where this is appropriate.
The Governing Body is responsible for:
- making and reviewing the policy, procedures, and guidelines;
- hearing and deciding on appeals;
- receiving reports; and
- advising the Headteacher.
On behalf of the Governing Body, the Headteacher/Leadership Team will monitor the level and nature of complaints and raise this to Governing Body where appropriate.
Chair of Governors
The Chair of the Governing Body is responsible for
- receiving complaints at Stage 3;
- nominating a governor or panel to hear the appeal; and
- ensuring that the correct procedure is followed.
Nominated Governor or Chair of the Panel at Stage 3
The Nominated Governor is responsible for ensuring that:
- the parties understand the procedure;
- the issues are addressed;
- key findings of fact are established;
- complainants are put at ease;
- the hearing is conducted as informally as possible;
- the panel is open-minded and acts independently;
- no member of the panel has a vested interest in the outcome, or has been involved in the issues previously;
- all parties have the chance to be heard; and
- any written material is seen by all parties.
Clerk to the Governing Body
The Clerk will act as the point of contact for the complainant at Stage 3. The Clerk must:
- set convenient dates and times and venues for hearings;
- collate any written material and forward it to the parties;
- meet and welcome the parties;
- record the proceedings; and
- notify the parties of the decision.
The Headteacher is responsible for:
- the overall internal management of the procedures;
- appointing a Complaints Co-ordinator (normally PA to Headteacher will assume this role);
- hearing complaints at Stage 2;
- ensuring that the procedures are monitored and reviewed and reports made to the Governing Body.
The Complaints Co-ordinator is responsible for:
- the efficient operation and management of the policy and procedures;
- training staff on how to deal appropriately with complaints;
- keeping parents, students and others informed of the procedures; and
- compiling reports for the Headteacher as required.
An appropriate Leadership Team colleague will be responsible for:
- advising on administrative, environmental and financial queries and complaints.
Subject Leaders are responsible for:
- dealing with and where possible resolving complaints about academic matters/programmes of study/teaching methods at Stage 1 of the procedure.
Heads of Year
Heads of Year are responsible for:
- dealing with and where possible resolving complaints concerning overall student progress, discipline issues, pastoral care at Stage 1 of the procedure.
The Designated Person for safeguarding students may be nominated by the Headteacher to deal with specific child protection issues.
All staff are responsible for:
- hearing any concerns brought to them by parents and students; and
- reassuring them that they will be dealt with as soon as possible by the appropriate member of staff; and
- informing the Complaints Co-ordinator and any other relevant member of staff of the concerns; and
- passing any parental complaint and any others received from other people who are not parents or students, to the Complaints Co-ordinator.
Information for Parents
- The Academy will include in its website advice to parents regarding how they should raise any concerns with the Academy.
- If parents, students or other complainants wish to register a formal complaint they should be asked to complete the School’s Formal Complaint Form and return it to the Complaints Co-ordinator.
- To ensure that academy staff and governors are able to process the complaint impartially, the complainant should keep the nature of their complaint confidential until such time as the complaint is either resolved or the complaints process has been exhausted. This may include, but is not limited to: Informing the local or national press, publishing details of the Complaint on social media, discussing the complaint with parents of other students and directly canvassing employees, students, or governors of the Academy.
Complaints Procedure Stages
- All staff and governors should be conversant with the procedures.
- The Academy's standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.
Stage 1: Informal
- All staff should listen carefully and patiently to parents’ and students’ complaints, recognising that whatever the nature of complaint may be, it is a matter of concern to the complainant.
- If the matter is within the competence of the member of staff to resolve quickly this should be done. Otherwise the complainant should be reassured that the complaint will be passed to the relevant member of staff, and the relevant person should be informed by the member of staff as soon as possible.
- The member of staff receiving the complaint should use the School’s Complaints Form. The complaint must then be passed as soon as possible to the relevant Subject Leader or to the Complaints Co-ordinator, but this does not prevent the member of staff also speaking informally to the Subject Leader or Co-ordinator about the matter at the earliest opportunity.
- If the Subject Leader considers the issue to be serious (but is not a child protection issue) he/she should inform the Co-ordinator via the School’s Complaints Form, and inform the complainant of the action taken. The Co-ordinator will determine the next step(s).
- If the Co-ordinator or the relevant Subject Leader or other senior member of staff considers that he/she can deal with the complaint he/she should attempt to do so. If a resolution cannot be found the Co-ordinator should inform the complainant of their right of appeal to the Headteacher (Stage 2) or Panel Hearing (Stage 3), and inform the Headteacher/Governing Body of the action taken.
- If the complaint concerns a child protection issue, or involves an allegation of abuse by a member of the Academy staff, the ‘Designated Person' responsible for safeguarding/child protection should be informed by the Co-ordinator).
- If a serious complaint is made by a student, the member of staff should immediately inform the Co-ordinator, who will immediately inform the student’s tutor and Head of Year. It will be the responsibility of the Head of Year to determine whether he/she can deal with the issue, or in consultation with the Co-ordinator, what the next course of action should be, including referring the matter to the Headteacher.
- In more serious cases, or where a member of staff is uncertain, parents should always be asked to put their complaint in writing. This is to ensure that there is no conflict in determining what the complaint consists of and the action taken by the members of the Academy staff.
- In any cases of doubt members of staff should seek the advice of the Co-ordinator.
- If the Co-ordinator or other appropriate member of staff cannot resolve the complaint, the Co-ordinator must refer the matter to the Headteacher (Stage 2).
- At Stage 1 the Academy should aim to resolve the complaint within two school days of receiving it. Where this is not possible, the Co-ordinator will inform the parties of the action being taken, and when it is expected to resolve it.
- No complaint should normally be left unresolved at this stage after FIVE school days of receipt of the complaint. In abnormal circumstances the matter will be referred to the Headteacher who will determine the appropriate action, and will keep the parties informed.
Stage 2: Formal
- The Headteacher will decide the outcome at this stage, but may delegate the collating of information to the Co-ordinator.
- The Headteacher must normally resolve the matter within FIVE school days of receiving notification of the complaint. In abnormal circumstances a longer time scale can be agreed, either by agreement with all parties or by a decision of the Chair of the Governing Body if no agreement is reached.
- If the Headteacher is unable to resolve the issue it is open to the complainant to make representations via the Complaints co-ordinator to convene a Panel Hearing. (Stage 3)
Stage 3: Panel hearing
- Complainants who are not satisfied by the Headteacher's decision can make representations to the Governing Body.
- The complainant must be advised by the Co-ordinator to write to the Chair of the Governing Body giving details of the complaint. The Chair will nominate a panel to hear the appeal.
- The panel will comprise:
- At least three people who were not directly involved in the complaint, and
- One member who is independent of the management and running of the Academy.
- The academy will identify suitably independent individuals who can fulfil the role and responsibility of being the independent member.
- The hearing must be within TEN school days of the Chair receiving notice of the complaint.
- The complainant must be told of their right to be accompanied, and where relevant translations/interpreters must be arranged by the Clerk in consultation with the parties.
- The nominated panel will determine their own procedures, and will agree these with the Chair, who will report them to the next Governing Body meeting.
- The panel will ensure that the complainant:
- is heard in private;
- is welcomed
- as far as possible is put at ease; and
- accompanied by an appropriate adult (e.g. a parent) if they are a child.
- Careful consideration must be taken when the complainant is a student.
- The panel will hear the complaint, consider all the views expressed and decide the outcome.
- The panel can:
- dismiss the complaint in whole or part;
- uphold the complaint in whole or part;
- decide on appropriate action to resolve the complaint; or
- recommend changes to the Academy’s systems or procedures.
- The Panel's decision is binding.
- The decision at this stage must be communicated to the parties within THREE school days of the hearing.
Appeals to the Secretary of State
- If the complaint is not resolved at the Academy level parents can, if they remain dissatisfied, make representations to the Secretary of State that the Academy is acting unreasonably or unlawfully.
Dealing with Complaints through Ofsted
- The Education (Investigation of Parents’ Complaints) (England) Regulations 2007 brought in a new procedure for dealing with parents’ complaints through Ofsted. The regulations set out what complaints can be investigated by Ofsted as qualifying or non-qualifying complaints.
- Ofsted cannot investigate a parental complaint until the parent has exhausted all internal methods and appeals. However, the Chief Inspector has the discretion to waive this restriction.
- If the complaint is felt to be vexatious or the complainant remains dissatisfied after all stages have been properly followed, the Chair is empowered to inform them in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is now closed.
The person investigating the complaint will 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 (if unsure or further information is necessary);
- 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; and
- keep notes of the interview.
- At each stage in the procedure the person attempting to resolve the complaint will keep in mind ways 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 apology;
- an explanation;
- 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; and
- an undertaking to review Academy policies in light of the complaint.
- Complainants will be encouraged to state what actions they feel might resolve the problem at any stage. The governors acknowledge that an admission that the Academy could have handled the situation better is not the same as an admission of negligence.
- The Headteacher and Chair will attempt to identify areas of agreement between the parties, and to clarify any misunderstandings that might have occurred in order to create a positive atmosphere in which to discuss any outstanding issues.
Reporting and Recording
- In all cases it is important for staff to use the Academy’s Complaints Form so that records of the complaint and the action taken can be recorded and traced. Supporting documents should be attached to the form.
- The Headteacher and Complaints Co-ordinator will consider the handling of complaints in accordance with this policy's review date (below), and will discuss issues with staff as necessary.
In implementing this policy the Governing Body, Headteacher and staff must take account of the Academy’s equal opportunity policy.
Monitoring and Review
- The Headteacher will report to the Governing Body annually or earlier if the Chair so determines, on the number and type of complaints received and their outcomes.
- The Complaint coordinator will retain records for this purpose.
- The Governing Body will review the policy every two years.
- Note: Any legislation and DfE guidelines referred to in BGS policies have been checked and are believed to be current at the time the policy is approved
Ownership and Date of the next review
- Policy owned by: Curriculum and Personnel committee
- Last Reviewed and Approved on 3 November 2021
- Next Review due November 2023