Complaint Procedure

 

1 Introduction

1.1 We believe that our school provides a good education for all our children, and that the head teacher and all staff work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents. However, the school has procedures in place in case there are complaints by parents. The following policy sets out the procedure that the school follows in such cases.

2 Aims and objectives

2.1 Our school aims to be fair, open and honest when dealing with any complaint. We give careful consideration to all complaints and deal with them as swiftly as possible. We aim to resolve any complaint through dialogue and mutual understanding and, in all cases, we put the interests of the child above all other issues. We provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed, and then resolved.

3 Compliments

3.1 These are always welcome and very encouraging to staff and pupils. The school encourages feedback or opinions from pupils, parents and carers. This dialogue may be informal or through letters, reply slips and questionnaires. Where compliments are personal they are always passed on to the appropriate member of staff, child or group.

4 Concerns

4.1 It is natural that parents may, on occasions, be concerned about an aspect of their child’s education or welfare at school. This could include issues concerning aspects of the curriculum, homework, behavioural problems or any other issue. The school welcomes enquiries from parents/carers about any matter, no matter how small. Teachers are always happy to explain school practices and policies, and how they affect the pupils.

4.2 If a parent is concerned about anything to do with the education that we are providing at our school, they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with their child’s class teacher. Most matters of concern can be dealt with in this way. All teachers work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school, and is making good progress; they always want to know if there is a problem, so that they can take action before the problem seriously affects the child’s progress.

4.3 If a parent would rather discuss a concern with the head teacher or any other member of staff it is always possible to make an appointment by telephoning the school office or calling in to school.

4.4 If occasionally parents feel they must state their concern formally, this too is not a problem. All letters of concern will be followed up and acted upon appropriately.

5 Raising Concerns and Resolving Complaints

Our paramount concerns are the safety and well-being of all our pupils. If you consider that something affects the well-being and safety of any pupil at Holy Trinity, then we want to know. To encourage resolution of such situations the Governing Body has adopted a “School Complaint Procedure”.

The procedure was devised so that it will:

  • usually be possible to resolve problems by informal means;
  • be simple to use and understand;
  • be non-adversarial;
  • provide confidentiality;
  • allow problems to be resolved swiftly;
  • address all the points at issue;
  • inform future practice so that the problem is unlikely to recur.

You can obtain full details of the Complaint Procedure from the school office or the Clerk to the Governing Body.

The address of the Clerk to the Governing Body is  c/o Holy Trinity Primary School

 

Complaint Procedure

General Principles:

You can use this procedure to raise a concern or complaint about the school.

We will not investigate an anonymous complaint, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

To help us make a proper investigation, you should bring concerns or complaints to the attention of the school as soon as possible. We will not consider a complaint made more than three months after the event.

Raising a concern or complaint

Informal Stage

You should initially communicate directly with the member of staff concerned. You can do this by letter, by telephone, or in person by appointment made via the school office. We can resolve most concerns by explaining or providing information and we expect that most complaints will be resolved at this stage.

If the matter is serious you can discuss it directly with the head teacher (or the chair of the governing body if it is a complaint is about the head teacher).

If you are uncertain about whom to contact, please ask the school office manager for advice.

 

Formal Stage

If your concern or complaint is not resolved at the informal stage you may choose to put it in writing and pass it to the head teacher. If the complaint is about the head teacher you should pass it to the Clerk to the Governing Body, for the attention of the chair of the governing body.

You will need use the Complaint Form provided below.

Holy Trinity C of E Primary School Formal Complaint Form

You should include any details that might assist the investigation, such as the names of witnesses, dates and times of events, and copies of relevant documents.

You must include a clear statement of the actions that you would like the school to take to resolve your concerns. Without this it is much more difficult to proceed.

Please pass the completed form, in a sealed envelope to the school office. You should address the envelope to the head teacher, or to the Clerk to the Governing Body, as appropriate.

The head teacher (or Chair) may invite you to a meeting to clarify your concerns and to see if we can come resolve the matter. A friend can accompany you, if you wish, to help you explain your concerns.

It is possible that your complaint will be resolved through a meeting with the head teacher (or Chair.) If your complaint is not resolved at a meeting with the head teacher (or Chair) we will make arrangements for the matter to be fully investigated, using the appropriate procedure. We will tell you, within five working days of receiving your formal complaint, how we intend to proceed and how long this will take.

Any investigation will begin as soon as possible. When it has been concluded, we will write to you to inform you of the conclusion. At this stage the complaint and its outcome will only be known by the governor who carried out the investigation (usually the Chair) and not by any other members of the Governing Body. At the next Full Governing Body Meeting all governors are informed that a Complaint has been made and investigated but the details including the nature and name of the person making the complaint as well as the outcome, are not shared.

If you are not satisfied with the manner in which the process has been followed, you can request the Governing Body to review the process followed by the school, in handling the complaint. If you wish to do this you should write to the Clerk to the Governing Body, within ten school days of being told the outcome. The address of the Clerk to the Governing Body is c/o the School. You should state where you consider the procedure was not followed. A Review Request Form is provided below for use in this case.

Holy Trinity C of E Primary School Complaint Review Request Form

 

Review Process

A panel of three members of the Governing body will conduct a review of the process followed by the school. The panel will usually do this within ten school days of receiving your request. The panel consists of three governors who are not aware of the complaint and did not carry out the initial investigation. The panel does not usually include parent or staff governor members.

The panel will normally consider written submissions but, reasonable requests to make a submission in person will be considered.

The Clerk of the Governing Body will write to you, telling you what the review panel concluded, and what, if any, further action the school is going to take. It will also explain if there are any further rights of appeal, such as the LA, and to whom they need to be addressed.

Following the conclusion of the Review Process the complaint and its outcome will only be known by the governor who carried out the initial investigation (usually the Chair) and members of the Review Panel, not by any other members of the Governing Body. At the next Full Governing Body Meeting all governors are informed that a Complaint has been made, investigated and the process reviewed by a panel of governors but the details including the nature and name of the person making the complaint as well as the outcome, are not shared. This matter continues to remain confidential between the governors directly involved in the process, the school and the complainant.

The final stage of appeal is to the Secretary of State for Education.

Complainants should be advised to write to The School Complaints Unit (SCU) at:

Department for Education

2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate

Manchester  M1 2WD

 

The SCU will examine if the complaints policy and any other relevant policies were followed in accordance with the provisions set out. SCU also examines policies to determine if they adhere to education legislation. However, the department will not re-investigate the substance of the complaint. This remains the responsibility of the school.

 

POLICY FOR DEALING WITH PERSISTENT OR VEXATIOUS COMPLAINTS / HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS

 

The Headteacher and staff deal with specific complaints as part of their day-to-day management of the school in accordance with the School’s Complaint Procedure. The majority of complaints are handled in an informal manner and are resolved quickly, sensitively and to the satisfaction of the complainant.

However, there are occasions when complainants behave in an unreasonable manner when raising and/or pursuing concerns. In these circumstances the school may take action in accordance with this policy.

 

1. AIMS OF POLICY

The aims of this policy are to:

  • uphold the standards of courtesy and reasonableness that should characterise allcommunication between the School and persons who wish to express a concern or pursue a complaint
  • support the well-being of students, staff and everyone else who has legitimate interest in the work of the School, including governors and parents
  • deal fairly, honestly and properly with those who make persistent or vexatious complaints and those who harass members of staff in school while ensuring that other stakeholders suffer no detriment.2. HUMAN RIGHTS 2.1 In implementing this policy the School will seek to ensure that its actions are in accordance with its obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Convention Rights embodied within it in order to protect the Human Rights of both persistent complainants and all other stakeholders.

     

    3. PARENTS’ EXPECTATIONS OF THE SCHOOL:

    3.1 Parents/carers/members of the public who raise either informal or formal issues or complaints with the School can expect the School to:

    a) regularly communicate to parents/carers in writing:

    (i) how and when problems can be raised with the School,

    (ii) the existence of the School’s complaints procedure, and

    (iii) the existence of the Policy for Dealing with Persistent or Vexatious

    Complaints and/or Harassment in Schools

    b) respond within a reasonable time

    c) be available for consultation within reasonable time limits bearing in mind the needs of the pupils/students within the school and the nature of the complaint

    d) respond with courtesy and respect

    e) attempt to resolve problems using reasonable means in line with the School‟s complaints procedure, other policies and practice and in line with guidance and advice from the Local Authority

    f) keep complainants informed of progress towards a resolution of the issues raised

     

    4. THE SCHOOL’S EXPECTATIONS OF PARENTS/CARERS/MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

    4.1 The School can expect parents/carers/members of the public who wish to raise problems with the School to:

     

    a) treat all school staff with courtesy and respect

    b) respect the needs and well-being of pupils and staff in the School

    c) avoid any use, or threatened use, of violence to people or property

    d) avoid any aggression or verbal abuse

    e) recognise the time constraints under which members of staff in schools work and allow the School a reasonable time to respond

    f) recognise that resolving a specific problem can sometimes take some time

    g) (in the case of a complaint) follow the School’s Complaints Procedure

     

    5. WHO IS A PERSISTENT COMPLAINANT?

    5.1 For the purpose of this policy, a persistent complainant is a parent/carer or member of the public who complains about issues, either formally or informally, or frequently raises issues that the complainant considers to be within the remit of the School and whose behaviour is unreasonable. Such behaviour may be characterised by:

    a) actions which are obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific, repetitious

    b) prolific correspondence or excessive e-mail or telephone contact about a concern or

    complaint

    c) an insistence upon pursuing unsubstantial complaints and/or unrealistic or unreasonable outcomes

    d) an insistence upon pursuing complaints in an unreasonable manner

    e) an insistence upon repeatedly pursuing a complaint when the outcome is not

    satisfactory to the complainant but cannot be changed, for example, if the desired  outcome is beyond the remit of the school because it is unlawful.

     

    5.2 For the purpose of this policy, harassment is the unreasonable pursuit of such actions as in (a) to (e) above in such a way that they:

    a) appear to be targeted over a significant period of time on one or more members of school staff and/or

    b) cause ongoing distress to individual member(s) of school staff and/or

    c) have a significant adverse effect on the whole/parts of the school community and/or

    d) are pursued in a manner which can be perceived as intimidating and oppressive by the recipient. This could include situations where persistent demands and criticisms, whilst not particularly taxing or serious when viewed in isolation, have a cumulative effect over time of undermining confidence, well-being and health.

     

    6. THE SCHOOL’S ACTIONS IN CASES OF PERSISTENT OR VEXATIOUS COMPLAINTS OR HARASSMENT

     

    6.1 In the first instance the School will verbally inform the complainant that his/her behaviour is considered to be becoming unreasonable/unacceptable and, if it is not modified, action may be taken in accordance with this policy.

     

    6.2 This will be confirmed in writing (Model Letter 1).

     

    6.3 If the behaviour is not modified the School will take some or all of the following actions as necessary, having regard to the nature of the complainant’s behaviour and the effect of this on the school community:

     

    a) inform the complainant in writing that his/her behaviour is now considered by the School to be unreasonable/unacceptable and, therefore, to fall under the terms of this policy (see Model Letter 2)

    b) inform the complainant that all meetings with a member of staff will be conducted with a second person present and that notes of meetings may be taken in the interests of all parties (see Model Letter 2)

    c) inform the complainant that, except in emergencies, all routine communication with the complainant to the School should be by letter only (see Model Letter 2)

    d) (in the case of physical or verbal aggression) refer to Joint Local Authority-Police Guidance for Schools, “Dealing with Abuse, Threats and Violence Towards School Staff”, and consider warning the complainant about being banned from the School site; or proceed straight to a temporary ban. (Advice is available from the Local Authority)

    e) consider taking advice from the Local Authority on pursuing a case under Anti-Harassment legislation

     

    6.4 Legitimate new complaints will still be considered even if the person making them is, or has been, subject to the Policy for Dealing with Persistent or Vexatious Complaints and/or Harassment in Schools. In these circumstances advice may be sought from the Local Authority.

     

    6.5 If a complainant’s persistent complaining/harassing behaviour is modified and is then resumed at a later date within a reasonable period of time, the School may resume the process identified above at an appropriate level. In these circumstances advice may be sought from the Local Authority.

     

    7. REVIEW

    7.1 The School will review as appropriate, and at a minimum once in a school year, any sanctions applied in the context of this policy.

     

    MODEL LETTER 1:

    INITIAL LETTER INFORMING A COMPLAINANT THAT HIS/HER BEHAVIOUR IS

    CONSIDERED TO FALL BELOW A REASONABLE/ ACCEPTABLE STANDARD

    RECORDED DELIVERY

    Dear

    This letter is to inform you that the School considers your actions in [describe actions, dates, behaviour] on……………… when you ……………………………………. to be unreasonable/unacceptable [delete as appropriate].

    We would ask you to bear in mind the fact that such behaviour on a school site can be disruptive and distressing to pupils, staff and parents/carers [delete if behaviour complained of did not occur on school site e.g. persistent use of e-mail, verbally abusive telephone calls].

    We are aware that you have raised some concerns, and would advise you that these are usually dealt with most effectively through the School’s Complaints Procedure.

    At the moment we are dealing with these issues by [describe actions being taken to resolve concern].

    Please note that the School’s Policy for Dealing with Persistent or Vexatious Complaints/Harassment sets out standards of behaviour expected of all people in their dealings with the School. These include:

     behaving reasonably

     treating others with courtesy and respect

     resolving complaints using the School’s Complaints Procedure

     avoiding physical and verbal aggression at all times

     

    The Policy also indicates the steps that we may take if these standards are breached. These include:

     making special arrangements for meetings and communication with the School

     considering a ban from the School premises

     considering legal action

     

    I would ask that you allow the School time to resolve the issues according to the correct procedures, and would assure you that we shall take every possible step to move this process forward as quickly as possible.

    Yours sincerely

     

    Headteacher

     

    MODEL LETTER 2:

    INFORMING A COMPLAINANT THAT HIS/HER BEHAVIOUR IS NOW CONSIDERED TO FALL UNDER THE TERMS OF THE POLICY FOR DEALING WITH PERSISTENT OR VEXATIOUS COMPLAINTS / HARASSMENT

    RECORDED DELIVERY

    Dear

    You will recall that I wrote to you on [insert date] telling you that I felt your behaviour was unreasonable.

    I am now writing to inform you that in view of your behaviour on [date], when you [describe actions/behaviour] it has been decided that the School‟s Policy for Dealing with Persistent or Vexatious Complaints/Harassment Policy will apply.

    In the circumstances I have made the following arrangements for your future contact with the school:

    [*Delete as applicable]

    *For the foreseeable future, should you wish to meet with a member of staff, I would ask you to note:

    (a) an appointment will be arranged and confirmed in writing as soon as possible;

    (b) a third party from the school will be present;

    (c) in the interests of all parties, formal notes of this meeting may be made.

     

    * For the foreseeable future, all routine communication with the School should be by letter only. Please address letters to ……………… at the School. We shall respond as quickly as possible. E-mail correspondence will not be responded to.

    Exceptionally, these arrangements do not apply to any emergency involving [insert name of student] – in which case you should contact the school in the usual way – or to parents‟ evenings, which will continue as in the past, but with a third party from the school present.

    These arrangements take effect straightaway. If you wish to make a representation about the contents of this letter, which may include any expressions of regret on your part and any assurances you are prepared to give about your future good conduct, you can do so by writing to me at the school by [state ten working days from the date of the letter]. If on receipt of your comments I consider that the arrangements outlined above should continue, you will be supplied with details of how to review a circumstance of your case.

    I do hope that the difficulties we are currently experiencing can soon be resolved.

    Yours sincerely

 

Headteacher