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Complaints Policy


Our school is:

a safe, supportive stimulating learning environment;

a team of respectful, tolerant, open minded citizens;

a community where everyone aspires to be the very best they can be;

a community of resilient lifelong learners;

a centre of excellence where all achieve success.




This policy explains what to do if parents, carers and members of the public need to make a complaint or raise concerns they have with the school. Some complaints fall outside the school’s complaints policy, for example, staff grievances or disciplinary procedures – see Appendix A.



Review Date

December 2016

Reviewed By

Clare Fryer

Summary of changes

Updated in line with "Best practice advice for school complaints procedures 2016”. Removal of blanket 1 year time limit for complaints. Added Appendix A.




1. INTRODUCTION                                                                     - 2 -

2. INFORMAL STAGE                                                                 - 2 -

3. FORMAL STAGE                                                                          - 3 -

3.1 Stage 1                                                                                        - 3 -

3.2 Stage 2                                                                                        - 3 -

3.3 Stage 3                                                                                        - 3 -

4. FURTHER INFORMATION                                                    - 4 -

5. TAKING IT FURTHER                                                                - 4 -

6. Serial & Persistent or Unreasonable Complaints                        - 5 -

APPENDIX A Complaints not in scope of the procedure             - 6 -



At Arboretum Primary School, we undertake to provide a friendly and safe environment in which pupils will be helped to achieve their potential, both academically and socially.

We recognise that sometimes things can go wrong and parents, carers and members of the public may need to make a complaint or raise concerns they have with the school.


This policy tells you what to do if this happens.



Most complaints/issues can be resolved informally and quickly by discussion with the member of staff concerned or the Head teacher. Alternatively parents/carers can write to the member of staff or the Head teacher outlining the issue clearly.


Any complaint/issue that is put in writing should be written clearly outlining all the issues and what it is hoped that the preferred outcome should be. All complaints will be acknowledged in writing within 3 – 5 working days.


Parent/carers should make an appointment to discuss their concerns with the member of staff who knows about the issue or incident. If the complaint relates to a pupil, ideally the member of staff concerned should be directly involved with the pupil, for example, class teacher or form teacher.


The member of staff will usually write notes during the meeting. Parents/carers can ask for a copy of these notes.



There are three formal stages:


3.1 Stage 1

If a parent/carer is still dissatisfied after the informal stage, they, or the member of staff can refer the matter to the Head teacher. This can be done in writing, as this will often make the situation clear to all involved parties.


The Head teacher will offer a meeting with the parent/carer or other complainant at a mutually convenient time. At the meeting, and through discussion, the Head teacher will clarify what the issues are. The hopes of what the parent/carer is trying to achieve will also be discussed. Together all parties will agree an acceptable outcome. This should be to the satisfaction of all parties involved. These should be written down and agreed by all parties so there is no misunderstanding. Again parents/carers should be given a copy of this.


If the issue is complex the head teacher may need to speak to other staff and pupils to investigate the concerns. This should happen within 10 school days. If this timescale cannot be met the head teacher should inform the parent/carer that this will take longer, explain the reasons for this and give a timescale for when the investigation will be completed.


3.2 Stage 2

After meeting with the head teacher if the complaint is still not resolved to the parent/carer’s satisfaction, the complaint can be referred to the chair of governors. This can either be in writing to the Chair at the school address, or alternatively the school can ask the Chair of Governors to contact the parent/carer direct. The Head teacher can also refer the complaint to the Chair of Governors.


If the head teacher is the subject of the complaint, the complaint should go straight to the chair of governors and miss out Stage 1. The chair of governors may ask for the complaint to be put in writing (if this has not already happened).


The chair of governors will offer to meet with the parent/carer or other complainant, at a mutually convenient time.


The chair of governors has 15 school days to investigate the complaint. If it cannot be resolved within this time, the chair will inform the complainant and explain why it is taking longer. Reasons for this may be that the complaint is complex and needs more time or someone involved is absent through sickness or holidays. The chair of governors should, however, give a realistic timescale for when the complaint should be resolved. The chair should inform the complainant of when it is expected that the investigation should be completed.


3.3 Stage 3

If the complaint is still not resolved to the parent/carer’s satisfaction, or chair of governors feels that it is necessary, s/he can set up a complaints committee to consider the complaint. The chair of governors will decide if this is appropriate.


If the chair of governors can resolve the complaint there is no need to hold a Complaints Committee meeting. As far as possible it is recommended that Complaints Committees are a last resort.


The chair of governors can appoint an investigating officer to gather evidence and conduct preliminary interviews on the chair’s behalf. The investigating officer will provide a detailed report of his/her investigation of the complaint Parents/carers should be given a copy of this report. It is important that the investigating officer is seen as impartial. So whilst the investigating officer is another governor, s/he cannot be a member of the associated complaints committee.


The complaints committee is made up of three members of the school’s governing body. Sometimes governors need to be brought in from other schools’ governing bodies because the school’s governors are ‘tainted’ because they have prior knowledge of the complaint.


The complaints committee should meet at a time convenient to all parties. The complainant, the head teacher, the chair of governors and any member of staff the complaint is about will be invited to the meeting. Any person invited can bring a friend or supporter if they wish. The complaints committee will consider any written material, and also give the person making the complaint and the head teacher, Chair of governors and staff an opportunity to state their case and to question others present. The committee will ensure that all present are treated fairly. The meeting will be minuted by the clerk to governors and everyone present will be given a copy of the minutes.


The committee will give its decision, in writing, within five school days after the meeting, along with the reasons for their decision.



If a complaint is not from a parent/carer of a pupil of the school (an example being a member of the public) these should be made directly to the head teacher, preferably in writing.


All complaints will be recorded formally by the school in a central log.


Complaints should be made as soon as possible after an incident arises. Three months is generally considered to be an acceptable time frame in which to lodge a complaint, however the school will consider complaints lodged after this time if there are exceptional circumstances.


Further information and guidance can be found in the government document “Best practice advice for school complaints procedures 2016” which can be found at:



If after this school based process the complaint is still not resolved to the parent/carer’s satisfaction, they may be able to approach the Secretary of State, Department for Education (DfE) to intervene. The Secretary of State has a duty to consider all complaints raised but will only intervene where the governing body has acted unlawfully or unreasonably and where it is expedient or practical to do so.

The School Complaint’s Unit (SCU) considers complaints relating to Local Authority maintained schools on behalf of the Secretary of State.

More information can be obtained from the SCU by calling the national Helpline on 0370-000-2288 or going online at or by writing to:

Department for Education

School Complaints Unit

2nd floor, Piccadilly Gate

Store Street

Manchester M1 2WD


  1. Serial & Persistent or Unreasonable Complaints

There will be occasions when despite all stages of the procedure having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied. If the complainant tries to reopen the same issue, the Chair of the Governing Body can inform the complainant in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is now closed.

More information about dealing with unreasonable complaints can be found in the school’s Unreasonable Complainants Policy.


APPENDIX A Complaints not in scope of the procedure


A complaints procedure should cover all complaints about any provision of facilities or services that a school provides with the exceptions listed below, for which there are separate (statutory) procedures


Who to contact

• Admissions to schools

• Statutory assessments of Special Educational Needs (SEN)

• School re-organisation proposals

• Matters likely to require a Child Protection Investigation


Concerns should be raised direct with local authorities (LA). Complaints about admission appeals for maintained schools are dealt with by the Local Government Ombudsman.

• Exclusion of children from school


Further information about raising concerns about exclusion can be found at:

• Whistleblowing


Schools have an internal whistleblowing procedure for their employees and voluntary staff. Other concerns can be raised direct with Ofsted by telephone on: 0300 123 3155, via email at: or by writing to: WBHL, Ofsted Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD. The Department for Education is also a prescribed body for whistleblowing in education.

• Staff grievances and disciplinary procedures


These matters will invoke the school’s internal grievance procedures. Complainants will not be informed of the outcome of any investigation.

• Complaints about services provided by other providers who may use school premises or facilities.


Providers should have their own complaints procedure to deal with complaints about service. They should be contacted direct.