Concerns and complaints

How to make a complaint about a school, that your child is being bullied or an incident that occurred. Can the local authority deal with your complaint, what to do if a teacher isn't listening, you don't agree with school policy, what to do if a headteacher hasn't responded to a complaint or refuses to communicate and how to complain to the governors of a school.

How do I make a complaint about my child's school?

Anyone who has a concern about a school should take it up with the school directly. Concerns will be taken seriously and the school will try to deal with it informally and as quickly as possible. In some circumstances, however, if a concern cannot be resolved, it should then be dealt with through the school’s formal complaints procedure.

All schools are required under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002 to have a complaints procedure in place and to follow it. The school’s complaints procedure is normally available on the school’s website, but if not, then you can ask the school for a copy of it. The complaints procedure should be used for dealing with most complaints, but there are some complaints that are outside the remit of the school’s complaints procedure, for example, staff grievance or disciplinary matters.

Most concerns can be quickly resolved by talking to the teacher or member of staff involved. To do this you can contact the school to arrange a time to meet with the person concerned and discuss the problem.

If you cannot resolve the matter directly with the person concerned, you should take it up with the Headteacher. Again, you can do this by contacting the school and arranging an appointment. It would be helpful if you could put your concerns in writing and let the Headteacher see them before you meet so that he/she is able to look into the matter and inform you of the situation at the meeting.

In a small number of cases, the matter may not be resolved even with the involvement of the Headteacher. When this happens, the complaint should be directed to the Chair of the Governing Body. In most cases, this means putting your complaint in writing to the Chair of Governors and sending it to him/her through the School. The Chair of Governors will then contact you.

If you do not discuss the matter with the Headteacher, it is not normally possible to proceed further with the official complaints procedure. In this circumstance, you should also put your complaint in writing, stating the reasons why you have not discussed it with the Headteacher, and send it to the Chair of Governors.

If the complaint cannot be resolved by the involvement of the Chair of Governors, you can ask for the complaint to be considered by the Governing Body's own Complaints Committee. You will then be informed in writing of the outcome.

The Local Authority does not investigate complaints about schools. If a complaint is made either in writing or verbally to the Director Children, Families, and Schools or to any officer of the Local Authority, the Governing Body of the school is made aware of the complaint and is requested to deal with it through their adopted procedure.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, you can make this known to the Secretary of State for Education at:

The School Complaints Unit (SCU)

Department for Education
2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate
M1 2WD

or online:

Department for Education (external website)

Further information can be obtained from the School Complaints Unit National Helpline on 0370 000 2288. The School Complaints Unit will not re-investigate the substance of the complaint but will examine if the complaints policy and other relevant policies were followed in accordance with the provisions set out and that they adhere to education legislation.

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