This policy is called:

Complaints Policy

It applies to:

Lordswood Boys’ School, Lordswood Girls’ School and Sixth Form Centre

Person responsible for its revision:

Executive Headteacher

Status:

Statutory procedure

Website

On both websites

Approval by:

Trust, with procedure approved by local governing body

Review  frequency:

Two yearly

Updated:

Updated with legal advice July 2015

Date of approval:

Approved by the Trust and both Governing Bodies Sept 15

Date of next approval:

September 2017

Contents and Index

Section Title

Paragraph Numbers

Overview and scope

Part 1: General Principles of Complaints

1 - 22

Dealing with Complaints – Initial Concerns

Dealing with Complaints – Formal Procedures

Framework of Principles

Investigating Complaints

Resolving Complaints

Vexatious Complaints

Time Limits

Part 2: The Complaints Procedure

23 - 47

Stage one: receiving a complaint

Stage two: complaint dealt with by staff member

Stage three: complaint dealt with by headteacher

Stage four: complaint dealt with by governing body

Part 3: Notes for Guidance

48 - 58

The Complaints Panel Hearing

Adopting and Publicising the Procedures

Flowchart

Appendix A

Example of Complaint Form

Guidance for anyone with a concern or complaint

Appendix B

Appendix C

Overview and Scope

  1. All academies are required to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school(s) and to any community facilities or services that the school provides.
  2. This procedure is to deal with all concerns or complaints relating to the actions of staff and application of school procedures where they affect individual pupils, except matters directly related to curriculum, or to a particular exclusion, child protection, special needs statementing or admission issue, all of which are dealt with under separate procedures; details of these procedures are available from the schools.
  3. Similarly, any complaints by members of staff should usually be dealt with through the appropriate separate procedures such as grievance, capability or anti-harassment.

Part 1: General Principles of complaints

Dealing with Complaints – Initial concerns/informal procedures

  1. These procedures make a distinction between dealing with a concern or complaint informally or formally.
  2. The underlying principle of the procedure is that, if at all possible, concerns and complaints ought to be handled and resolved informally (usually by the staff directly concerned) without the need to invoke a formal referral and process.
    It is expected that the class teacher will be able to resolve most concerns without the need to go any further.
  3. It is a precondition to the operation of this policy that the complainant shall have made reasonable attempts to see informal resolution and shall have acted in relation to the matter in a reasonable and measured way consistent with the Behaviour Policy of the school.  The Trust reserves the right not to permit a complaint to be pursued further where this precondition has not been met.

Dealing with Complaints – Formal procedures

  1. The formal Complaint Procedure will need to be invoked when initial or informal attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful and the person raising the concern or complaint remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further.
  2. There are four stages to the Complaints Procedure:

                                                                                  of the complaint)

                                                                                                 

Framework of Principles

  1. Any concern or complaint should be brought to the attention of the school at the earliest opportunity.  Any matter raised more than 3 months after the event will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
  2. A concern or complaint from a member of the public who is not a parent or a guardian of a child attending the school should be referred directly to the Executive Headteacher, unless the complaint is about the Executive Headteacher in which case it should be referred to the Chair of the Academies Trust.
  3. An anonymous complaint will not be dealt with in accordance with this policy.
  4. Any concern or complaint will be dealt with in a way that:
  1. Concerns and complaints should be handled in both an impartial and non-adversarial manner, and an open, transparent and constructive way.

Investigating Complaints

  1. At whatever stage, the person investigating the concern or complaint should:
  1. establish what has happened so far, and who has been involved;
  2. clarify the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved;
  3. clarify what the complainant feels would put things right;
  4. interview those involved in the matter and / or those complained of, allowing them to be accompanied if they wish;
  1. Any person interviewed as part of an investigation is entitled to be accompanied by a friend or representative and / or a translator, and to agree any notes taken, particularly if the investigation is part of the formal process.

Resolving Complaints

  1. At whatever stage, the person dealing with the concern or complaint will endeavour to find a resolution.

  1. Complainants are encouraged to state what actions they feel might resolve the problem at any stage – though this should be on the understanding that it may not be possible or reasonable to deliver them.

Vexatious Complaints

  1. There will be occasions when, despite all stages of the procedures having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied.  If the complainant tries to reopen the same issue, the Chair of the Academy Trust will inform them in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is now closed.
  2. The complainant may take their complaint to the Department for Education, but, there is no requirement for the Department to re-open an investigation, etc. if they are satisfied that the school has dealt with the complaint appropriately; their remit is to review due process.

Time-Limits

  1. A concern or complaint will be acknowledged as soon as is it is received and attempts to deal with it informally started as soon as practicable in timescales agreed by all parties.  (It is recommended that, if at all possible, this starts within 5 school days of receiving the concern or complaint and is completed within 10 school days of starting.)
  2. Once a complaint has been lodged formally, an investigation should begin within 5 school days and a realistic but reasonable timescale should be set for completion, etc.  It is reasonable for a complainant to expect to receive written feedback within 15 school days of an investigation completing.
  3. Where it is not possible to conclude an investigation within 15 school days, a new timescale will be set and the complainant sent details of the new deadline and an explanation for the delay.

Part 2:        The Complaints Procedure

Stage one:        receiving a complaint

  1. A formal complaint from a member of the public, who is not a parent or guardian of a child attending the school, should go directly to the Executive Headteacher in the first instance.  
  2. Parents, carers or guardians wishing to make a formal complaint should set out their complaint in writing and detail the steps taken so far to resolve the complaint informally.  The complaint should be addressed to the member of staff concerned (which may be the Executive Headteacher).
  3. A complaint should be acknowledged as soon as it is received.
  4. Where the member of staff feels compromised to deal with the complaint, the matter should be referred to a more appropriate member of staff (which may be the Executive Headteacher).
  5. Also, there will be occasions when the complainant may have concerns about discussing their complaint with a particular member of staff: if so, the complainant should be directed to address their concerns to the Associate or Executive Headteacher or a member of the Senior Leadership Team.
  6. Please note: if the first approach is made direct to a governor they should direct the complainant to the appropriate person - usually the member of staff.  Governors should not act unilaterally on an individual complaint outside the procedure.

Stage two:        complaint dealt with by staff member

  1. The appropriate member of staff will attempt to resolve the complaint using whatever reasonable means are appropriate.  This will usually involve meeting the complainant to discuss the matter further, and may also involve talking to pupils, other staff members or consulting senior staff.
  2. If having raised their concerns with the appropriate member of staff, the complainant is still dissatisfied after receiving written feedback, then the complainant should contact the Executive Headteacher within 15 school days setting out in writing why they remain dissatisfied.  The Executive Headteacher will deal with the complaint in accordance with the Stage three process.
  3. If the Executive Headteacher is the subject of the complaint, the complainant should contact the Chair of the Academies Trust who will deal with the complaint in accordance with the Stage three process by appointing an investigating governor.

Stage three: complaint dealt with by Executive Headteacher

  1. The Executive Headteacher will attempt to resolve a complaint using whatever reasonable means are appropriate. This may involve meeting the complainant to discuss the matter further; it may also involve the Executive Headteacher interviewing staff members.
  2. The Executive Headteacher must be allowed reasonable time to investigate the complaint and gather any information that is required. On this basis, the Executive Headteacher will aim to be able to give written feedback to the complainant within15 school days of receipt of the complaint.
  3. On some occasions the Executive Headteacher may delegate the investigation to a senior member of staff, usually an assistant head teacher who has had no involvement with the case: the decision on the appropriate person rests with the Executive Headteacher.
  4. If having raised concerns with the Executive Headteacher, the complainant is still dissatisfied then the complainant should contact the Chair of the Academies Trust within 15 school days of receipt of written feedback from the Executive Headteacher.  The complainant must set out in writing why they remain dissatisfied and what they are seeking by way of resolution.  The Chair of the Academies Trust will arrange for the complaint to be dealt with under Stage four.

Stage four: complaint dealt with by Academies Trust’s Complaints Panel

  1. On receipt of the written complaint and proposed resolution under paragraph 35 the Chair of the Academies Trust will invite the school to provide a written response to the complaint within 10 school days.
  2. The Chair of the Academies Trust will then ensure that a designated panel (“the complaint panel”) of a minimum of three persons will be convened to hear the complaint.  At least one person on the panel will be independent of the management and running of the Academy Trust or its schools.  No governor may sit on the panel if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or in the circumstances surrounding it.  The panel will sit within 15 school days of the school’s response under paragraph 36 provided that a mutually convenient time and date is available.
  3. The complaint panel  will deal with the complaint via a panel hearing – please refer to Notes for Guidance
  4. The clerk to the Trust & Governing Bodies (or a suitable person if the clerk is unavailable) will minute the proceedings.
  5. The aim of the hearing, which will be held in private, will always be to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant.
  6. The complaint panel may:
  1. Following the hearing, the complainant will receive written feedback from the clerk including any decisions, recommendations and the reasons for them and, if appropriate, the next steps. The written feedback should be issued within 10 school days after the hearing has concluded.
  2. A copy of the decision, findings and recommendations will be available for inspection by the Academies Trust and the Executive Headteacher.

 

  1. A written record of all complaints under the formal stage will be retained which will set out whether the complaint was resolved following a panel hearing or prior to that stage and what action was taken by the school regardless of whether the complaint was upheld.
  2. All correspondence, statements and records relating to a complaint are confidential and will be kept so except where the Secretary of State or a body conducting an inspection under s109 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 requests access to them.
  3. This is the final step of the process for the school (though the recommendations may be such, eg: changes in policy or practice, that it is necessary for the full Local Governing Body and Academies Trust to receive a short report regarding the findings of the investigation.  (Please note: this should not mention names).
  4. The Chair of the Academies Trust is responsible for ensuring that the correct procedures have been followed.


Part 3:        Notes for Guidance

The Complaints Panel Hearing

  1. The hearing should be as informal as possible – many complainants feel nervous and inhibited in a formal setting and parents often feel emotional when discussing an issue that affects their child: the proceedings should be as welcoming as possible and the layout of the room should try to ensure the setting is informal and not adversarial, so as to set the appropriate tone.
  2. Any parties being heard may be accompanied by a friend or supporter and/or a translator but legal representation is not allowed.
  3. The panel members should make themselves familiar with these procedures before any hearing
  4.  Attendance of witnesses will be at the discretion of the panel and in any event are only required to attend for the part of the hearing in which they give their evidence.
  5. Before the hearing starts, the panel  will appoint one of its number to chair the hearing
  6. The hearing may only be used to consider any issues previously set out in writing and forming part of the complaint.  New issues will be disregarded. The hearing proceed as follows:
  1. After introductions, the complainant should be invited to explain their complaint, and be followed by their witnesses.
  2. The Executive Headteacher may question both the complainant and the witnesses after each has spoken.
  3. The Executive Headteacher is then invited to explain the school’s actions and be followed by the school’s witnesses.
  4. The complainant may question both the Executive Headteacher and the witnesses after each has spoken.
  5. Up to this point, the panel may ask questions at any time.
  6. The complainant is then invited to sum up their complaint.
  7. The Executive Headteacher is then invited to sum up the school’s actions and response to the complaint.
  8. Both parties leave together while the panel decides on the issues.
  9. The chair explains that both parties will hear from the panel within a set time scale.
  1. It is recommended that any panel considering complaints be clerked.  The clerk would be the contact point for the complainant and be required to:
  1. The Chair of the Panel has a key role, ensuring that:

Adopting and Publicising the Procedures

  1. The Local Governing Body of each school should formally accept and adopt these procedures at a meeting.
  2. The procedures should then be made available to all staff through the agreed mechanisms, e.g. staff notice boards, as well as on request.
  3.  Parents and guardians, etc. should be notified that the school has procedures and that these are available on request, but the school should also have available an “easy-to-read” guide.

Outline School Complaints Procedure: flowchart

Informal complaint – if unresolved then:

Complaint raised and received and passed to appropriate member of staff
(= Executive Headteacher, if complaint from anyone other than a parent or carer)

Complaint dealt with by staff member

Issue resolved:  (including no further action)

Issue not resolved

Complaint dealt with by Executive Headteacher

  • Acknowledge receipt of complaint
  • Meet with complainant to clarify complaint
  • Look into complaint as soon as possible
  • Inform complainant of outcome (+ write to confirm)

Issue resolved:  (including no further action)

Issue not resolved

 

Complaint referred to Chair of Academies Trust

  • complaints panel arranged
  • Issue letter inviting complainant to meeting

Panel meet: decide to dismiss / uphold / decide action / recommend change and issue letter confirming panel decision

*END OF PROCESS FOR SCHOOL*

Complainant may complain to the Department for Education who may review due process


Example of a form to record a formal complaint

Please complete and return to …………………………..(Chair of the Academies Trust) who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken.

Your name:

Pupil’s name:

Your relationship to the pupil:

Address:

Postcode:

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.

Signature:

Date:

Official use

Date acknowledgement sent:

Complaint referred to:

Acknowledgement sent by:

Date:

Guide for anyone with a concern or complaint

Our school wants to deal with any issues, concerns or complaints that you have as promptly and as fairly as we can.  We will make every effort to resolve concerns informally.  Where a concern cannot be resolved informally, the school is required by law to have a complaints procedure and this guide explains the process to follow if anyone has a concern or complaint that is required to be dealt with under the formal procedure of this policy.

Please note that the complaints procedure is intended to deal with complaints relating to the actions of staff and the application of school procedures where they affect individual pupils.   There are certain matters which are dealt with under separate procedures.   These are: curriculum, a particular exclusion, a particular child protection issue, a special needs statementing issue, an admissions issue.

If you are not a parent or a guardian of a pupil at the school, you should contact the Executive Headteacher.   If you are a parent or guardian with a concern or complaint then the following steps should be followed.

Step 1 – Raising Your Formal Concern

In the first instance you should make your concerns known to the person who seems most appropriate.  This may be the review or form tutor, the subject teacher or the Headteacher.  You must make your concern or complaint known in writing.  The member of staff you have contacted will acknowledge your concern. He or she might need some time to look into the matter and perhaps consult with other colleagues.  Within 15 school days you should have a response from school, in writing, which may or may not involve asking you to attend a meeting to discuss the matter.  It is hoped that most concerns can be resolved during this stage.  However, if you are still dissatisfied then you should move to Step 2.

Step 2 – Completing a Complaints Form

At this stage you should complete the school complaints form which can be found at Appendix B of the policy.  This helps us keep track of any complaints that have not been resolved informally.  The completed form should be sent to the Executive Headteacher who will acknowledge your complaint within 5 school days of receipt of the form.  The Executive Headteacher, or a delegated senior member of staff, will look into your complaint and investigate it fully.  This may or may not involve a meeting with you at a mutually convenient time.   Within 15 school days you will be notified in writing about the outcome of the complaint.  If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, or if you have a complaint about the Executive Headteacher you have 15 school  days from the date of the letter to move on to Step 3 and contact the Chair of the Academies Trust.

Step 3 – Formally notifying the Lordswood Academies Trust.

The Lordswood Academies Trust has responsibility for investigating any complaints formally addressed to them.  If you have not already done so you will be asked to complete a complaints form.  Your complaint will be acknowledged within 5 school days of receipt of your form.  The Chair will invite the school to provide a written response within 10 school days of your complaint at this stage.  The Chair will convene a panel of at least three persons of whom one will be independent of the management and running of the school to hear your complaint.   This hearing will be at a mutually agreed time, wherever possible within 15 school days of receipt of the school’s response (or if no response, within 15 school days of the date by which a response ought to have been sent). The panel  will hear your complaint on an impartial basis at a hearing held in private, and will aim to resolve the complaint and reconcile any differences between you and the school.

The conduct and procedure of the hearing is detailed in the school’s Complaints Procedure and you will be given the opportunity to have a friend, and / or a translator present at the hearing if you wish.  Legal representation is not allowed.

The panel will:

Following the investigation you will receive written feedback from the clerk including any decisions, recommendations and reasons for them.  This should be issued within 10 school days after the investigation has concluded.