Complaints Policy and Procedures
This document sets out detailed guidance on the process for dealing with comments, grievances and complaints. All parents of children attending Small Acres must have access to this written description of a transparent complaints procedure.
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the school.
Two different types of complaint are recognised by the school:
(a) A justified complaint - where the School is at fault because we have failed to do something we should have, or we have done something we should not have.
(b) A grievance - where the complainant is dissatisfied but we are not at fault because we are following an agreed policy or procedure. Whilst these may be understandable causes for complaint, the concerns reflect policies and budgets already agreed by the school and its Governing Body. As such the School has not failed to do something it said it would, or has agreed to do.
At each stage the person investigating the complaint will ensure that they:
Complainants will be encouraged to state what actions they feel might resolve the problem at any stage.
Complaints will be considered and resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Realistic time limits will be set for each action within each stage. However, where further investigations are necessary, new time limits may need to be set and the complainant sent details of the new deadline and an explanation for the delay. On occasion, the school may need to extend the time to respond to a Stage 1 or Stage 2 complaint (see below). This may be because of resource or capacity issues, or because additional information needs to be obtained to investigate the complaint. In such cases, the school will provide a holding letter, explaining the reason for the delay, and providing a date by which a response will be supplied. Response times given refer to Monday to Friday inclusive, term time only.
STAGE ONE (informal):
Concern/Complaint heard by relevant, impartial staff member who is not the subject of the complaint. Where a complainant is unhappy with an issue in school they should contact a member of staff in the first instance. In most cases this will be either a child’s teacher or the school office.
The member of staff receiving the complaint will either:
If the complainant indicates that he/she would have difficulty discussing a complaint with a particular member of staff, or the complaint relates to the staff member, the complainant may be referred to another staff member (or the Headteacher). The ability to consider the complaint objectively and impartially is crucial. The school will respond in writing within five school days, with a brief summary of the complaint and a response. If the complainant wishes to move to Stage 2 (formal complaint), a request must be submitted to the school in writing within 15 school days. Otherwise the matter is considered closed, and will not be considered further. The letter must explain why the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 1.
STAGE TWO (formal): If the complaint is about the Head teacher, the complainant should move to Stage 2b.
2a) Concern/Complaint Heard by Head teacher
If dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage One, the complainant should contact the Head teacher about the issue. (At this point, the complainant may be dissatisfied with the way the complaint was handled at stage one as well as pursuing their initial complaint.) The Head teacher will provide a response to the complainant (after discussions with relevant colleagues, if necessary). The school will respond in writing within 15 school days, with a summary of the complaint and a response.
If the complainant wishes to move to Stage 3, a review by Governing Body’s Complaints Panel, a request must be submitted to the school in writing within 15 school days. Otherwise the matter is considered closed, and will not be considered further. The letter must explain why the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 2a.
2b) Concern/Complaint Heard by Chair of the Governing Body
If the complaint is about the headteacher, the complainant should contact the Chair of the Governing Body about the issue. The Chair can be contacted by letter addressed to the school. The Chair of the Governing Body will discuss the concerns with the headteacher and provide a response to the complainant.
Under Law, where the Chair of the Governing Body is absent, a representative nominated by the full Governing Body will assume the responsibilities outlined in this procedure. The Chair will respond in writing within 15 school days, with a summary of the complaint and a response. If the complainant wishes to move to Stage 3, a request must be submitted to the Chair in writing within 15 school days. Otherwise the matter is considered closed, and will not be considered further. The letter must explain why the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 2b.
STAGE THREE (review): Complaint heard by the Governing Body’s Complaints Panel
If dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage Two, the complainant may write to the Chair of the Governing Body about the complaint, and the Chair will convene the Governing Body’s Complaints Panel to review the handling of the complaint at Stage 2 and to examine the decision reached. The complainant should explain why they are requesting a review, and why they consider the response they have received to be unsatisfactory.
The Governing Body will determine which governors sit on the Governing Body Complaints Panel. The membership of the Panel will not include the Chair as s/he will have considered the complaint under Stage 2. Staff governors and the headteacher are also excluded, as are any governors who have a prior involvement in the case. Where a panel hearing is convened, one person on the panel must be independent of the management and running of the school.
Individual complaints will not be heard by the whole governing body at any stage, as this could compromise the impartiality of any panel set up for a disciplinary hearing against a member of staff following a serious complaint. It is not appropriate for the details of complaints to be shared widely amongst the Governing Body.
The Remit of the Complaints Panel
The governor chairing the Panel will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within five school days.
The Panel will convene to examine the complaint within 15 school days of receipt of the complaint. The Complaints Panel is not convened to merely rubber-stamp previous decisions. It will investigate the complaint promptly and impartially. If the matter is complex and requires more time to investigate, a letter may be sent to the complainant outlining the reasons for any delay and the subsequent timescale for the complaint. Every effort must be made to respond to complaints in a timely manner.
The Complaints Panel will decide on the method of investigation depending on the nature of the complaint. The Complaints Panel can:
Outcome of the Complaints Panel Meeting
The complainant will receive a written explanation of the outcome and action taken within five school days of the Panel’s meeting.
If the complainant is still dissatisfied, the final course of action is to write to the Secretary of State for Education.