Complaints

We hope that parents never feel the need to make a formal complaint.  However, we know that there will be times when parents may wish to raise concerns and issues with the school, including making a formal complaint.  Parents wishing to raise a concern, make a inquiry or make an informal complaint are encouraged to discuss the matter …

  • directly with the class teacher or member of staff concerned (see below);
  • with a member of our office team (for general inquiries);
  • with the Headteacher
Formal Complaints Procedures

All formal complaints will be considered in accordance with our Complaints Procedures which has four stages:

Stage 1

The complaint is considered by the Headteacher.  Parents can submit a complaint to the Headteacher who will then consider all aspects of the complaint, meet with the parent if necessary, undertake an investigation and provide written outcomes and decisions (which parts of the complaint will be upheld, partially upheld or not upheld) to the parent, usually within 15 school days of the receipt of the complaint.  The school aims to resolve most complaints at Stage 1.

Stage 2

If a parent is not satisfied with the Headteacher’s handling of the complaint or the decisions made by the Headteacher regarding the issues raised, the parent can ask the Governing Body to review the complaint at Stage 2.  The Chair of Governors or another suitably-skilled governor will consider the Headteacher’s handling of the complaint and consider the extent to which any of the issues raised by the parents should be reconsidered or investigated further and whether improvements can be made to the school’s response at Stage 1.  The governor may invite the parent to meet with them, consider the handling of the complaint at Stage 1 by the Headteacher and make decisions about whether the matter should be reconsidered by the Headteacher or the outcomes changed.  The governor will respond to the parent in writing, usually within 10 days of the final meeting with parents and/or the school.  A parent may, if they wish, request that the matter be heard at Stage 3 rather than Stage 2, that is by a panel of three governors.  

Stage 3

If a parent is not satisfied with the review of the complaint at Stage 2 or wishes the matter to be considered by a panel of governors rather than a single governor, they may submit their complaint, or parts of their complaint which were not upheld at stages 1 and 2, for consideration by a panel of three governors who have no prior knowledge of the details of the complaint.  A panel meeting is Stage 3 of the complaints procedures.  Governors will convene a panel meeting, consider all written evidence from the parent and the school, invite the parent and the school to attend the panel meeting (separately), make conclusions and provide a written outcome to the parent, usually within 10 working days from the date of the panel meeting.  The panel will determine which of the outcomes which were not upheld at Stage 1 and Stage 2 might now be upheld, might be partially upheld or continue to not be upheld.  Stage 3 is the final stage at which the school can consider a complaint.

Stage 4

When a parent remains dissatisfied with the outcomes of their complaint or the way in which the complaint has been handled by the Governing Body, they may escalate their complaint to the Department for Education (DfE).  The DfE will expect the complaint to have been considered by the school at Stages 1 – 3 of their procedure before they consider whether or not the Governing Body has failed to carry out their duties.

The full Complaints Policy, which includes all of the procedures to be followed by the school and those wishing to raise a complaint, can be found here.

Parents can be assured that all complaints are dealt with in confidence.  Where a complaint concerns a member of staff, parents should be aware that if they want the matter to be addressed by the school (usually the Headteacher or other senior member of staff) then any issues raised verbally or in writing may be shared directly with the member of staff concerned in order to give them an opportunity to consider the matter, share their view and consider an appropriate response to the parent.

Expected Behaviour of Complainants / Parents

When raising a concern, we expect all parents (and other family members) to approach and speak to members of staff in such a way that an appropriate and professional conversation might take place, including, if needed, in an appropriate setting, and that the member of staff might be given a chance to listen to the concern or complaint or information being shared, consider it, and offer a immediate response, if an immediate response is possible.  It may not be possible for members of staff to respond to an inquiry or complaint straight away, particularly if more information regarding an incident or event needs to be considered, clarified or investigated further.  In these circumstances, the member of staff may offer to make a further appointment with the parent or follow up the inquiry/complaint by telephone. When raising an issue with members of staff, we ask parents not to:

  • be abusive to members of staff;
  • raise their voice;
  • raise complaints in front of their children;
  • undermine staff in front of children;
  • use offensive or abusive language.
  • post complaints, general ‘moans and groans’ or concerns on social media (e.g. Facebook) *

The school does not tolerate abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of staff.   Any parent who is abusive to staff whilst making a complaint will be asked to leave the premises and return at another time to have their complaint considered in a appropriate setting.

Parents Use of Social Media with regard to Complaints about the School

All complaints, inquiries, concerns, grumbles and grievances should be aired in an appropriate setting with the school.  The school does not have access to individual Facebook or other social media pages to respond to parents’ general questions, grumbles or negative discussions, particularly when what is posted about an issue or event is incorrect, inaccurate or unfair.   The school would like an opportunity to consider and respond to all complaints and suggestions.  Whilst we appreciate the right to parents’ freedom of speech, parents are ask to appreciate that Facebook and other social media sites are not the best place to post general complaints and gripes about the school.  Social media can be a forum where thoughts and anger are expressed in inappropriate ways and where comments to other parents can fuel comments and responses, making a situation worse or placing an issue or complaint firmly in the public domain when it does not need to be.

Often, the comments posted by parents on Social Media rarely resolve the matter or enable the school to respond appropriately.  The school treats all complaints and discussions with parents in confidence and we expect parents to do the same.  In the interests of maintaining positive, respectful and trusting relationships between the school and its pupils and staff, the school would never share a derogatory comment about a child, a parent, a member of staff, a governor or a person in the wider community in the public domain or via social media.  (We know that parents would be very unhappy if any member of staff did so).  We expect all parents to share the same values and respect for the school and its staff and governors, and in doing so set a good example to their children, who, through our curriculum, are encouraged to use technology and social media in good ways avoiding insulting, bullying or other poor behaviour towards others.   The school will take action to address any comments placed on social media which it feels are unfair to the school or to members of staff, pupils, parents or other stakeholders.  Parents should be aware that the school will take action to address any derogatory comments made by parents or pupils about members of staff or governors on social media.  

The school will also seek legal advice as it may be that comments shared in the public domain by parents are in breach of legislation which aims to protect individuals from defamation or malicious communications.   A defamatory statement is one which would tend to lower the subject in the estimation of people.  It may be considered unlawful to write something about a person online that:

  • exposes that person to hatred, ridicule or contempt
  • causes him/her to be shunned or avoided
  • lowers his/her standing in the estimation of right-thinking members of society
  • disparages him/her in his/her business, trade or profession

Section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 says that an individual is guilty of an offence where he/she publishes a statement that causes, or is likely to cause, serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.  It is possible therefore that derogatory, insulting or disparaging comments about staff made by parents or pupils on social media are covered by this legislation as they could potential “lower the subject in the estimation of people” or “cause harm to their reputation.” The Malicious Communications Act 1998 states that it is an offence to send another person a letter, electronic communication or article of any description which conveys:

  • a message which is indecent or grossly offensive
  • a threat
  • information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender

In general, parents are advised not to post ANY comments on social media about the school or its staff and we thank parents for your support in this matter.

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