Complaints Procedure

 Tower Hill Primary School

Complaints Procedure 2015 - 2018

Date              : Autumn 2015        Author            : Linda Tansley, HT

Review Date      : Autumn 2018

Tower Hill Primary School is committed to encouraging the involvement of parents in the community of the school and in their children’s education. From time to time, things may occur which cause parents concern. It is important that parents or children know what steps to take to make sure that any problems are resolved.  These notes are intended to provide guidance to help parents with this process.

Informal complaints

Who should I talk to?

Most concerns can be dealt with most quickly and effectively through informal discussion with members of staff at school.  You are always welcome to come into school to discuss any concerns or problems that have arisen and are encouraged to talk to your child’s teacher in the first instance, as the teacher, having knowledge of both your child and events in school, is often the person best placed to help.

Will what I say be kept confidential?

You can expect that matters you raise will be treated in confidence, but you also need to understand that to resolve problems and find the best way forward, the teacher may have to make further enquiries.  When this is the case, you can expect that this will be done with care, and that teachers will be sensitive to how such circumstances may affect your child.  This is true for any investigation undertaken by the school, at any time.

What if it is difficult to talk to my child’s teacher about my concern?

Sometimes you may feel that approaching your child’s teacher could be awkward, especially if the matter you wish to discuss may affect a member of staff.  If this is the case, or if talking to the teacher on a previous occasion does not seem to have resolved a particular problem, you should seek help from the Head teacher by making an appointment to speak with her.  The Headteacher has responsibility for the day-to-day running of the school and will recognise that situations like this can be difficult and sensitive.  You can expect the Headteacher to take the appropriate steps to follow up your concerns, and to discuss the outcome with you.  Obviously, some time needs to be allowed for this to take place, but in most cases the Headteacher will contact you again within a relatively short space of time (usually within 2-3 working days).

Can I talk to somebody who is independent of the school staff?

It is always possible to approach a school governor with a concern.  However, governors will always encourage you to approach the Headteacher first, if you have not already done so.  This is because the Headteacher is responsible for the day-to-day running of the school and is, therefore, best placed to follow up and deal with concerns.  The governor will support you in doing this, if you feel that this may be helpful, or alternatively you may wish to ask a friend to come along.

Formal Complaints

What is the difference between an informal and formal complaint?

Each of the situations above is an example of how concerns may be addressed informally.  Good communication and discussion of problems allow issues to be dealt with quickly.  The process is a verbal one, and usually only directly involves you, as a parent, and a member of staff or the Headteacher.  You can expect matters to be taken seriously even if discussed informally and that that agreed actions will be followed through.

A complaint becomes formal when you feel that your concern is too serious to be dealt with informally, or when you feel that informal approaches to the school have not been adequately dealt with.  A formal complaint should be made in writing to the Headteacher and all investigations resulting from this and any responses made by the school will also be documented.

What happens if I need to make a formal complaint?

Formal complaints need to be made to the Headteacher in writing.  If the complaint itself relates to the Headteacher, then the complaint needs to be made in writing to the Chair of the Governing Body: these cover complaints about the curriculum, admissions and exclusions of pupils from school.  You can expect to receive acknowledgement of your complaint from the school within 3 working days of them receiving your letter, and if the complaint is covered by Statutory Procedures, the school will provide you with details of how these Procedures work.  You will also be offered an opportunity to discuss the process, and to provide the school with any further information you think should be considered.  This will happen even if your concern falls outside the areas covered by statutory arrangements because the school follows similar principles (summarised in the flow chart at the end of this document) to deal with complaints about other aspects of school life.

What happens next?

When you receive the formal acknowledgement of your complaint from the Headteacher, you will also be given an estimated date by which you can expect a full response.  The Headteacher will provide you with an opportunity to discuss the process, and to add any additional information you feel is important.  The Headteacher will also take the appropriate steps to investigate the matter and will keep written records of the investigation.

As soon as the relevant facts have been established you will receive a written response from the Headteacher, which includes an explanation of the decision that has been reached, the reasons for the decision, and the actions that need to be taken to resolve your complaint.  The Headteacher may also wish to discuss this with you directly beforehand.  You can expect to receive your formal response within 10 working days of the original acknowledgement of your complaint.  If a delay is anticipated, the school should keep you informed in writing of progress, and when you are likely to receive details of the outcome of the investigation.

If complaints were to be made about the actions of a Headteacher, it would be normal for the Chair of the Governing Body to carry out the investigation at this stage.

Governing Body Complaints Review Panel

I still feel that matters have not been resolved.  What should I do?

It is very rare that a complaint will reach this stage, but if it does, the next step in the process will involve an independent and impartial review by a Panel from the Governing Body.  You should write to Clerk of the Governing Body, requesting that your complaint proceeds to this stage.  The Clerk will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, and will explain that a Panel will meet to review your complaint within 10 working days.  The Panel will consist of three governors who have had no prior involvement in the matter in question.  All relevant documents relating to the complaint will be provided to the Panel beforehand.

You will receive notification of the date on which the Panel will meet, 5 working days in advance of the meeting.  You will also be informed that you have the right to go to the meeting, and to be accompanied by a friend, legal representative or interpreter.  The Headteacher will also be invited to attend the meeting.

Whilst discussions at the meeting will be documented (usually by the Clerk), the meeting will be as informal as possible, with the main aim being to resolve the problem raised, and to achieve reconciliation between you and the school.  It provides an opportunity for you to explain your complaint and concerns, for the Headteacher to explain the school’s response, and for all people present to seek clarification through questions and discussion.  Once the discussion has ended, everyone apart from the Panel will leave the meeting, and the Panel will review matters and reach its decision.

A written decision on the complaint will be provided to you and to the school by the Panel within 15 working days.  You will also be advised of what options are open to you to appeal against the decision.  Any Appeals Process will normally involve the Local Authority and ultimately the Secretary of State for Education.  It is very rare that a complaint will need to progress to these stages.