COMPLAINTS PROCEDURES 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.
The Complaints Procedures Policy has been created to deal with any complaint against a member of staff at a DDAT school, or DDAT as a whole, relating to any aspects of the Trust or the provision of facilities or services.
Summary of changes
Adopted the DDAT model policy
Head Teacher ……………………………………….……………… Date ……………………….
Chair of Governors ………………………………………….…….. Date ……………………….
Arboretum Primary School aims to resolve all complaints at the earliest possible stage and is dedicated to continuing to provide the highest quality of education possible throughout the procedure.
The Complaints Procedures Policy has been created to deal with any complaint against a member of staff, or the school as a whole, relating to any aspects of the school or the provision of facilities or services.
Any person, including a member of the public, is able to make a complaint about the provision of facilities or services that the school provides. This policy outlines the procedure that the complainant and school must follow.
Once a complaint has been made, it can be resolved or withdrawn at any stage.
The Head Teacher will be the first point of contact when following the complaints procedure.
This policy has due regard to statutory legislation, including, but not limited to, the following:
This policy also has due regard to guidance including, but not limited to, the following:
For the purpose of this policy, a “complaint” can be defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction’ which can be regarding actions taken or a perceived lack of action.
Complaints can be resolved formally or informally dependent on the complainant’s choice.
A concern can be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt’ for which reassurance is sought.
Any complaint or concern will be taken seriously, whether formally or informally, and the appropriate procedures shall be taken.
NB. For the purpose of this policy, “concerns” will be classed and addressed as complaints. Any further references to “complaints” will include “concerns”.
The complainant will:
The Head Teacher will:
The investigator is involved in stages one and two of the procedure. Their role includes:
The panel chair will:
All panel members will be aware that:
The panel can:
Complainants may feel nervous or inhibited in a formal setting and, therefore, the proceedings should be as welcoming as possible.
When a child is present at the hearing, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that the child does not feel intimidated, as well as ensuring the child’s view is represented equally.
The panel clerk will:
The school will ensure that all aspects of the complaints procedure are:
Complaints are expected to be made as soon as possible after an incident arises in order to amend the issue in an appropriate timescale.
Arboretum Primary School upholds a three-month time limit in which a complaint can be lodged regarding an incident. Complaints made outside this time limit will not be automatically refused and exceptions will be considered.
In the case of any timescales changing, all parties involved will be informed of the changes in a timely manner.
Complaints should be made using the appropriate channels of communication, including the use of the Complaints Procedure Form.
All complaints shall be considered whether made in person, by telephone, in writing or electronically via email.
A complaint can progress to the next stage of the procedure even if it is not viewed as “justified”. All complainants are given the opportunity to fully complete the complaints procedure.
Any complaint made against the Head Teacher shall be initially dealt with by the Chair of Governors.
Any complaint made against the Chair of Governors or any other member of the Governing Body should be made in writing to the Clerk to Governors.
When interviewing children in order to gather information regarding a complaint, the interview should be conducted in the presence of another member of staff or, in the case of serious complaints, e.g. where the possibility of criminal investigation exists, in the presence of their parents.
The school will ensure that the conduction of interviews does not prejudice an LA designated officer’s (LADO), or police, investigation.
The school understands the importance of ensuring a friendly and relaxed area which is free from intimidation.
All children interviewed will be made fully aware of what the interview concerns and their right to have someone with them.
Staff are allowed a colleague to support them at their interview. The colleague must not be anyone likely to be interviewed themselves, including their line manager.
The interviewer will not express opinions in words or attitude, so as to not influence the interviewee.
The interviewee will sign a copy of the transcription of the interview.
A record shall be kept of any complaint made, whether via phone, in person or in writing, detailing the main issues raised, ready to discuss at a later date.
The school holds the right to use recording devices, where appropriate, to ensure all parties involved are able to review the discussions at a later date.
Where there are communication difficulties or disabilities, the school may provide recording devices to ensure the complainant is able to access and review the discussions at a later point.
Details of any complaint made shall not be shared with the entire governing body unless completely necessary, in case an independent panel is needed to hear the complaint.
The progress and the final outcome of a complaint will be recorded and kept up-to-date by the Head Teacher.
The school will hold all records of complaints centrally.
Complainants have a right to access copies of these records under the Data Protection Act 2018, the GDPR and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Complaints regarding the following topics should be directed to the LA:
Complaints concerning admissions will be directed to the appropriate admissions authority.
Complaints about children being excluded from the school should be dealt with by following the process explained at: https://www.gov.uk/school-discipline-exclusions/exclusions
The school has an internal whistleblowing procedure for all employees and voluntary staff. Complaints of this nature should not be addressed using this complaints procedure. These concerns can be directed to Ofsted by telephone on: 0300 123 3155 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff grievances and disciplinary procedures will be dealt with using the school’s internal grievance procedure. In these cases, complainants will not be informed of the outcome of any investigations.
This complaints procedure is not to be used when addressing any complaints made about services provided by a third party who may use the school premises or facilities. All complaints concerning this should be directed to the service provider.
If the complaint suggests that a child has been at risk of significant harm through violence, emotional abuse, sexual harassment or neglect, it may be referred without further notice to Children’s Social Care and/or to the LA.
If a social services authority decides to investigate a situation, the Head Teacher or Governing Body may postpone the complaints procedure.
Where a matter can be resolved through a legal appeal, it will not be considered as a formal complaint. The key areas are: admissions decisions, certain decisions relating to formal assessment of SEND, and decisions to permanently exclude a child.
The school will act in a manner they believe to be appropriate when dealing with an individual who consistently makes the same complaints or who continuously asks the school to reconsider their position.
If a complainant attempts to re-open an issue which has previously fully completed the complaints procedure, the Chair of Governors will inform the complainant that the matter is now closed.
If the complainant contacts the school regarding the same issue again, the complaint may be classed as ‘serial’ or ‘persistent’ and the school does not have an obligation to respond.
The school must ensure that a complaint is not classed as ‘serial’ before they have fully completed the complaints procedure.
The school will not take the decision to stop responding to an individual lightly. The school will ensure that:
If the school believes that the complainant is continuously contacting the school to cause disruption or inconvenience, or if the complainant is being abusive or threatening, the school has the right to not respond to the correspondent.
Once the school decides to no longer respond to a complainant, the individual will be informed of this decision in writing.
If the school finds it difficult to deal with a complainant due to their unreasonable behaviour, then their complaint can be directed to the Academy Trust.
The complainant has the right to a third-party representative, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, throughout the complaints procedure.
Any new complaint made by a ‘serial’ complainant will be responded to.
Complainants hold the right to refer their complaint to their local MP. This would not make the individual a ‘serial’ or ‘persistent’ complainant.
School premises are private property and therefore any individual can be barred from entering the premises.
If a parent’s behaviour is cause for concern, a school can ask the individual to leave the premises.
The Head Teacher will notify the parties involved via writing, explaining that their implied licence for access to the premises has been temporarily revoked subject to any representations that the individual may wish to make.
The individual involved will be given the opportunity to formally express their views regarding the decision to bar them.
This decision to bar will be reviewed, taking into account any discussions following the incident.
If the decision is made to continue the bar, the individual will be contacted in writing, informing them of how long the bar will be in place.
Anyone wishing to make a complaint regarding a barring order can do so in writing, including email, to the Head Teacher or Chair of Governors.
Once the school’s complaints procedure is completed, the only remaining avenue of appeal is through the Courts.
As members of a public authority, all staff are subject to the fluency duty imposed by the Immigration Act 2016, which requires staff members to have an appropriate level of fluency in English in order to teach pupils.
The school is free to determine the level of spoken communication necessary in order for staff members to develop effective performance, but it will be matched to the demands of the role in question.
The school will be satisfied that an individual has the necessary level of fluency appropriate for the role they will be undertaking, whether this is an existing or potential new member of staff.
If a member of the school community feels that a staff member has insufficient proficiency in spoken English for the performance of their role, they are required to follow the complaints procedure outlined in section 5 of this policy.
For the purpose of this policy, a “legitimate complaint” is one which is about the standard of spoken English of a member of staff; complaints regarding an individual’s accent, dialect, manner or tone of communication are not considered legitimate complaints.
All legitimate complaints regarding the fluency duty will be handled in line with the processes outlined in this policy.
In addition to the processes outlined in this policy, the school will assess the merits of a legitimate complaint against the necessary standard of spoken English fluency required for the role in question.
To assess the merits, the school will undertake an objective assessment against clear criteria set out in the role specification or, against the level of fluency descriptors relevant to the role in question.
If the complaint is upheld, the school will consider what action is necessary to meet the fluency duty; this may include:
Appropriate support will be provided to staff to ensure that they are protected from vexatious complains and are not subjected to unnecessary fluency testing.
Records of complaints regarding fluency will be kept in accordance with the processes outlined in section 7 of this policy.
If a complainant remains dissatisfied once the complaint procedure has been completed, they have the right to refer their complaint to the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State will only intervene when they believe that the Trust Board has acted unlawfully or unreasonably.
The SCU will not overturn a school / Trust decision about a complaint except in exceptional circumstances, such as the school and/or Trust acting unlawfully.
When making a final decision about a complaint, the Trust reserves the right to seek advice from the SCU on whether they are acting reasonably and lawfully; however, they will not be able to advise on how to resolve the complaint.
A copy of this Complaints Procedures Policy will be made available on request. It will also be published on the school’s website, as recommended by the ESFA.
The complaints procedure will be reviewed every 2 years, taking into account the latest guidance issued by the DfE.
Arboretum Primary School is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who complain. We will not normally limit the contact complainants have with the Trust; however, we do not expect our staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour and will take action to protect staff from that behaviour, including that which is abusive, offensive or threatening.
The school defines unreasonable complainants as ‘those who, because of the frequency or nature of their contacts with the Trust, hinder our consideration of their or other people’s complaints’.
A complaint may be regarded as unreasonable when the person making the complaint:
A complaint may also be considered unreasonable if the person making the complaint does so either face-to-face, by telephone or in writing or electronically:
Complainants should limit the numbers of communications with the school while a complaint is being progressed. It is not helpful if repeated correspondence is sent (either by letter, phone, email or text) as it could delay the outcome being reached.
Whenever possible, the Head Teacher or Chair of Governors will discuss any concerns with the complainant informally before applying an ‘unreasonable’ marking.
If the behaviour continues, the Head teacher will write to the complainant explaining that their behaviour is unreasonable and asking them to change it. For complainants who excessively contact the school causing a significant level of disruption, we may specify methods of communication and limit the number of contacts in a communication plan. This will usually be reviewed after six months.
In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, the concerns and actions taken will be put in writing immediately and the police informed.
If you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve your complaint and wish to take the matter further, please complete this form and send it to the Head Teacher. (If your complaint is against the Head Teacher, you will need to send the form to the Chair of Governors).
Pupil’s name (if applicable):
Pupil’s date of birth (if applicable):
Daytime telephone number:
Evening telephone number:
What is your complaint concerning, and what action would you like the Head Teacher to take?
When did you discuss your concern/complaint with the appropriate member of staff?
What was the result of the discussion?
An example of a letter that the chair of the governing body may send to the complainant, upon receipt of a complaint at stage two.
Dear addressee’s name,
Thank you for your letter dated date setting out the reasons why you are not satisfied with the Head Teacher’s response to your complaint about details of the complaint.
I am writing to let you know that I will be arranging for a complaints appeal panel (CAP) to consider your complaint, in accordance with our school’s complaints procedure.
As explained in the procedure, the chair of the CAP will advise, in writing, how the CAP intends to consider your complaint.
Chair of Governors
Dear addressee’s name,
I have received your complaint against the Head Teacher of Arboretum Primary School.
I write to let you know that I have forwarded a copy of your complaint to the Head Teacher, with a request that they respond to the issues raised in the complaint within 10 school days.
A copy of the Head Teacher’s response will be sent to you as soon as possible.
If you are not satisfied with the Head Teacher’s response, I will arrange for a complaints appeal panel (CAP) to consider your complaint in accordance with stage two of the attached complaints procedure.
As explained in the procedure, the chair of the CAP will advise you, in writing, how the complaint will proceed.
Chair of Governors
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: www.gov.uk/school-discipline-exclusions/exclusions.
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: email@example.com 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.