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Complaints to schools

Contacting the school

If you’re having a problem with your child’s school whether it is about safety, learning or any other matter then your child’s teacher or head of year is usually the best person to talk to first.  As teachers will often be in the classroom during school hours, we recommend calling and asking the school office to ask them to call you back.

If you feel that you’ve given the school the chance to look into the matter and you feel that they haven’t acted or you are not happy about the way they have acted, then you can use their complaints procedure.

School’s complaints procedures

All schools are required by law to have and to publish a formal complaints procedure.  If it is not available on the school’s website then you should be able to obtain a copy by contacting the school.

Usually the first stage in the complaints process is to write to the person appointed by the school to be the complaints investigator – this is often, but not always, the head teacher.  You should put your complaint in writing and mark it ‘formal complaint’.  It is always recommended that when you send a complaint that you get a receipt for it or send it recorded delivery.

Each complaints procedure should contain details of the length of time a school will take to investigate and respond to complaints. However, please remember that schools are closed through the holidays and they may not be able to investigate and respond throughout these periods.  There is a Schools Complaints Toolkit that can be downloaded from this page that gives a model procedure.

If you continue to be unhappy with the response you receive at formal stage one, then there is another stage that you can progress to.  At this stage, your complaint and the initial investigation will usually be looked at by a panel of governors.  This stage is about making sure that the person who looked at your complaint, took into account and investigated all the things that they had to in order to come to the decision. It isn’t about investigating the complaint again or looking at other things that you are not happy about. If the panel decide that the correct process was not followed, then they may ask for another investigation of the complaint – either by the original investigator, themselves or another third party depending on the circumstances.

The local authority’s role

The government and the Department for Education make it clear that schools should be self governing and so formal complaints should be dealt with by them. However, we do try to support parents and schools when they ask for help.  It should be noted that this support is informal and we cannot intervene in making decisions about complaints.

The Secretary of State

If you still remain unhappy after using the school’s complaints procedure then you may contact the Secretary of State for Education at:

Public Communications Unit
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3PT
Telephone: 0370 000 2288
Fax: 01928 738248

Academies

Academies, like other schools, should have a published complaints procedure that they must abide by. However, if you feel that they have not complied with their complaints procedure or fulfilled one of its agreed duties then you may be able to ask the Education Funding Agency to intervene on your behalf. Guidance from the Department for Education can be downloaded from this page.

Education Funding Agency

Academies Central Unit (Academy Complaints)
Education Funding Agency
Earlsdon Park
53-55 Butts Road
Coventry
CV1 3BH
academyquestions@efa.education.gov.uk​​