Concerns/complaints policy

Please follow link to download a copy of our procedure for handling concerns and complaints: 
Procedure for handling concerns and complaints

Procedure for handling concerns and complaints

We want our pupils to be healthy, happy and safe, and to achieve.   We recognise that parents, guardians or carers play
an important part in making this happen. Cooperation between parents, staff and governors leads to a shared sense of
purpose and a good atmosphere in the school.

Each level of the procedure set out below offers the opportunity for concerns and complaints to be resolved as quickly
as possible.

Level 1 – informal

Parents, carers or guardians should, in the first instance, make an appointment to speak to the class teacher or a head
of year about the concern.
It is best to resolve issues at this point.

Guidance on informal level 1:

  • Concerns should initially be handled informally in a manner that offers the best way of resolving issues.
  • A class teacher or head of year should offer an appointment to discuss the issue as quickly as possible, as
    this will give both parties time to talk about it calmly and politely without being interrupted. This can
    allow parties to remain calm. It will also show a commitment to resolving issues.
  • It is important for parents to recognise that schools are busy organisations and that it may not be possible
    to offer an appointment straight away.
  • The parties involved should be encouraged to offer their view of what would be a realistic resolution to the
    problem.
  • Where the first approach is made to a governor, the next step would be to refer the complainant to the
    appropriate person and advise them about the procedure. It would be useful if governors did not act
    unilaterally on an individual complaint outside the formal procedure or be involved at the early stages
    in case they are needed to sit on a panel at a later stage of the procedure

Level 2 – informal

Parents, carers or guardians dissatisfied with the result of the discussions with the class teacher or head of year should
ask for an appointment to meet with the Headteacher or, in a larger school, a member of the leadership team, a Deputy
Headteacher or Assistant Headteacher.

If a resolution to the issue is proving difficult to find, the Headteacher, a member of the leadership team, a Deputy
Headteacher or assistant Headteacher can speak to one member of the governing body about the issue who may be
willing to offer informal intervention. However, there is no obligation on any governor to become involved at this level.

If everyone involved is unable to resolve the issue, then it may be necessary to ask for information or support from a
Children’s Services Representative. The issue that is the focus of the complaint will determine the person contacted.
The Headteacher, member of the leadership team, deputy Headteacher or assistant Headteacher should know who
to ring or the Customer Service Centre will be able to offer information on 0844 800 8001 or
e-mail:information@norfolk.gov.uk

Guidance on informal level 2:

  • It is always best to resolve issues informally at the earliest possible time but if the person is not satisfied with
    the result of the talk with the teacher or head of year then he/she can ask for an appointment to meet with the
    Headteacher or, in a larger school, a member of the leadership team, a deputy head or assistant Headteacher.
  • It is in everyone’s interest, particularly the child or children, for concerns and complaints to be sorted out
    quickly and smoothly.
  • The aim should be that discussions end on a positive note with no bad feeling.
  • It is good practice for Headteachers or member of the leadership team, a deputy head or assistant Headteacher
    to write a letter to parents summarising what has been agreed regarding the issue.
  • The Headteacher, a member of the leadership team, a deputy head or assistant Headteacher may feel that a
    particular governor’s input would be helpful in bringing about a resolution but there is no obligation on any
    governor to become involved at this level.
  • The advice from a Children’s Services Representative will be designed to help facilitate a resolution to the
    problem as quickly as possible.

It is hoped that most problems will have been resolved by now.

Level 3 – formal complaint letter to Headteacher

An issue that has not been resolved through the informal levels 1 and 2 can become an official complaint.

Parents, carers or guardians wishing to move to level 3 must write a formal letter of complaint to the Headteacher.
The letter will need to set out clearly the issues which have previously been discussed and why the parent, carer
or guardian considers the issue to be unresolved.

Headteachers should consider the complaint and discuss a resolution with the complainant. The Headteacher
should offer a resolution to the complainant in writing within 10 school days of receipt of the letter.

Guidance on level 3- formal:

  • An unresolved issue can now move to a formal complaint. This is a serious step to be taken.
    In consideration of future home/school relationships everyone concerned will need to
    negotiate an agreement and concentrate on finding a resolution to the issue.

 

Concerns or complaints specifically about the Headteacher.

The decision that the Headteacher has made as a result of the complaint does not become a complaint about
the Headteacher. If the complainant feels the complaint has not been resolved he/she should proceed to
Level 4, a Governors’ Complaints Panel

If, the concern or complaint is specifically about the Headteacher and is unable to be resolved at the informal
stage, then it will be necessary for the complainant to formally complain to the Chair of Governors. The school
will provide the Chair of Governor’s name and the complainant should write to him or her at the school address
marking the envelope ‘urgent, private and confidential’. The Chair of Governors should acknowledge the
complainant’s letter in writing within 5 school days of receipt and contact a Governor Support Service
Officer for advice.

Level 4 – formal complaint requesting a Governors’ Complaints Panel.

Time Scales:

Receipt of complainant’s letter Acknowledgement within 5 school days
Receipt of complainant’s letter Governors’ Panel meeting within 15 school days (unless this goes into school holidays)
Written documentation sent to Governors’ Panel Members and complainant and Headteacher 5 school days before meeting.
Governors’ Panel members decision communicated to all concerned As soon as possible but within 5 school days of meeting.

Complainants wishing to move to level 4 of the formal complaints procedure will need to write a letter to the
Chair of Governors to request that a Governors’ Complaints Panel meets to hear the complaint. This formal
complaint letter must be received within 10 school days of the last meeting with the Headteacher concerning
the issue. The complainant should write to the Chair of Governors at the school address marking the envelope
‘urgent and confidential’.   The letter will need to set out the complaint that has previously been formally
discussed with the Headteacher and show why the matter is not resolved.

Before the meeting:

The chair of governors should appoint a clerk to the Governors’ Complaints Panel, acknowledge the
complainant’s letter in writing within 5 school days of receipt and arrange for a panel of governors to
meet within 15 school days of receipt. It must be recognised that if the letter is received within 14 school
days to the end of term it may not be possible to organise the governors’ panel meeting. In this case the
matter should be dealt with within 10 school days of the school reopening

The Headteacher should be given a copy of the complainant’s letter and written documentation should
be requested from the school. The clerk should send both the complainant’s letter and the school
documentation to the Governors’ Complaints Panel members, complainant and Headteacher (and
anyone else involved in the meeting) at least 5 school days before the date of the meeting.

The complainant and Headteacher will be invited to attend the Governor’s Complaints Panel meeting
to give a verbal statement in support of their documentation. Each of them can bring someone to
support them if they wish.

At the meeting:

The complainant and Headteacher (or his representative) should provide all the relevant information
they wish and the Governors’ Complaints Panel members should clarify any points. After the complainant
and Headteacher (or his representative) have provided all the information they wish, the chair will ask
all parties to leave except the panel members and the clerk.

After the meeting:

The Governors’ Complaints Panel will write to all concerned within 5 school days to explain their decision
and suggest a resolution to the problem, if appropriate. The decision of the Governor’s Complaints Panel
is final.

The decision of the Governors’ Complaints Panel will not be investigated. If, however, the complainant
feels that the School and Governors have not followed the school’s complaints procedure correctly,
he/she can contact a Children’s Services Officer for assistance. In this case he/she should ring Customer
Services on 0844 800 8001 who will arrange for an officer to get back to him/her.

Taking your complaint further:

If you believe that your school’s governing body is acting ‘unreasonably’ you can complain in writing to
the Secretary of State for Education.

Guidance on level 4 – formal:

Before the meeting:

  • The formal complaints letter should be passed to the vice-chair if the chair will be unable to receive
    the letter within 5 days.
  • Members of the Governors’ Complaints Panel should have no prior knowledge of the complaint and
    it is, therefore, unlikely that staff governors will be members of the panel.

At the meeting:

  • The Complaints Panel must be made up of at least three members and a clerk.
  • Although this is a formal meeting, every effort should be made to make it as informal as possible
    for all concerned.
  • Everyone attending should be in the room at the same time
  • Consideration may need to be given to the seating arrangements to make everyone feel equal
    and comfortable.
  • The clerk should take notes of the meeting, listing who is present:

Governors, stating who is the Chair of the Governors’ Complaints Panel

Headteacher (or his/her representative) and any other members of school staff

Parents and anyone accompanying them e.g. friend

Clerk

  • The chair of the Governors’ Complaints Panel should open the meeting stating the purpose and
    the format of the meeting to clarify this to all in attendance.
  • People present should introduce themselves stating their reason for being at the meeting.
  • The chair of the Governors’ Complaints Panel should request a verbal statement from the
    complainant in support of his or her written letter of complaint and why s/he feels the issue
    has not been resolved. The Governors’ Complaints Panel members can ask questions to make
    sure they understand the issue from the parent’s point of view.
  • The chair of the Governors’ Complaints Panel should request a verbal statement from the
    Headteacher (or his representative) in support of his/her written account of the complaint
    and the steps taken to resolve the issue. The Governors’ Complaints Panel members can ask
    questions to make sure they understand the issue from the Headteacher’s point of view.
  • The members of the Governors’ Complaints Panel should make sure they fully understand
    the issues and ask any further questions to clarify any points that are still not clear to them.
  • The chair of the Governors’ Complaints Panel must ask the complainant and the Headteacher
    (or his representative) if they are satisfied that they have provided all the information they
    wanted or if there is something they wish to add and if they feel they have had a fair hearing.
  • When the Governors’ Complaints Panel members understand all the issues, the chair will ask
    all parties to leave except the panel members and the clerk.

After the meeting:

  • The Governors’ Complaints Panel members then discuss the issues in private and the clerk
    remains to record the decision.
  • The Panel members will need to consider the information, come to a decision and suggest a
    way to resolve the issue taking into account the best interests of the child or children.
  • When the Panel have reached a decision the Clerk will inform everyone concerned in writing
    as soon as possible, but in any event, within 5 school days of the panel meeting.

The decision of the Governor’s Complaints Panel is final.

Once a Governor’s Complaints Panel has heard a complaint, and it is clear that correct procedures
have been followed, that specific complaint cannot be reopened. If a request is received in this
respect, the chair of governors should inform the complainant that the matter is closed.

Any complaints concerning the conduct of school staff will be handled in accordance with the school
internal disciplinary procedures. The details of such an investigation will remain confidential

Some complaints regarding admissions, the curriculum or special educational needs are covered by
statutory regulations. The Headteacher or deputy Headteacher can give information about these issues
or advice can be sought from the Customer Service Centre on 0844 800 8001 or e-mail: information@norfolk.gov.uk

Extended Schools: the governing body should ensure that any third party provider offering activities
and services through the extended schools programme has their own complaints procedure in place.
Governors would need to have a discussion around, and make a decision about, what happens when
the third party provider’s complaints process is exhausted and the matter is not resolved and whether
it should then be referred to a Governors’ Complaints Panel. This would ensure that the Governors
are kept aware of complaints about provision

Serial and Persistent Complainants: it is important to distinguish between people who make a
number of complaints because they really think things have gone wrong, and people who are being
difficult. Complainants can be frustrated and aggrieved and it is therefore important to consider the
merits of the case rather than their attitude. Even though someone has made serial complaints in the
past, it cannot be assumed that the next complaint is also serial. Each complaint must be considered
as to whether it is serial or genuine. There is no way of avoiding evaluating each complaint.