Parents or carers of a pupil, members of a school’s community, essentially anyone who wishes to make a complaint about a school maintained by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (the Local Authority).
As academies work outside the Local Authority’s control, complaints about them should be directed to the academy, which should have its own complaints procedure that enables unresolved complaints to be made to the Education Funding Agency; the academy will provide contact details.
What is a complaint? A complaint is a verbal or written expression of dissatisfaction.
What is not a complaint?
A request for or the submission of information;
A question about a policy or procedure;
A report about an incident; or
Other similar circumstances.
Duties of School Governing Bodies: Since 1 September 2003 governing bodies of maintained schools and maintained nursery schools in England have been required, under section 29 of the Education Act 2002, to have a procedure to deal with complaints relating to their school and any facilities or services that the school provides.
However, some complaints are not handled by this procedure, for example, complaints about home to school transport, school admissions, staff grievances, the National Curriculum, etc.; the Local Authority or the school will be able to provide details of the procedures that should be followed in these cases.
A copy of a school’s complaints procedure should be available on its website or a paper copy can be requested from the school.
The procedure should consist of four stages and enable verbal or written complaints to be considered by the following people within the school:
Stage 1: A member of the school’s staff;
Stage 2: The head teacher or another member of the school’s senior leadership team;
Stage 3: The Chair or Vice-chair of the school’s governing body;
Stage 4: A Governors’ Complaints Panel.
It will only be necessary to move a complaint on to the next stage of the procedure, if the person making the complaint is not satisfied with the outcome at the previous stage.
Complaints should not usually ‘leap frog’ any of the stages, but it may be necessary, for example, if the complaint is about the head teacher; in which case it can be considered by the Chair or Vice-chair of the school’s governing body, i.e. at Stage 3, by-passing stages 1 and 2.
Please Note: Schools are only required to consider complaints that have been received within a reasonable time of the incident being complained about or before a specified cut off period. Although it is reasonable to expect complaints to be made as soon as possible after an incident, there may be good reasons for not doing so, which means that in exceptional circumstances schools may still consider a complaint, even if there has been a delay in raising it.
If the person making the complaint remains dissatisfied with the outcome after they have followed the four stages listed above they are entitled to refer their complaint to a number of other bodies, including:
The School’s Local Authority or Diocesan Board – These bodies can consider the actions taken by the school when investigating a complaint and, if the school did not comply with its own procedures or its actions were not reasonable, they can make recommendations about what the school should do to resolve the situation. They are not empowered to re-investigate the substance of the complaint, as this remains the responsibility of the school. These bodies cannot overturn the school’s decision.
Complaints about voluntary aided religious schools should be referred to:
Church of England Schools – the Diocesan Director of Education at The Old Palace, Deansway, Worcester, WR1 2JE;
Catholic Schools – the Diocesan Education Service, Birmingham Diocesan Schools Commission, St Anne’s House, 61 Coventry Road, Coleshill, Birmingham, B46 3EA.
Complaints regarding Academies:
Complaints about academies should be referred to the Education Funding Agency, Ministerial and Public Communications Division, Department for Education, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD
Whilst complaints about all other schools maintained by the Local Authority should be referred to the Local Authority at the address given below, which will:
acknowledge receipt of a complaint within 3 working days;
investigate the complaint within 20 working days of receipt, although an officer will probably contact you and the school in the meantime to discuss your complaint;
write to you and the school to describe the findings of the investigation and any recommendations; and
explain that you can refer your complaint to the Secretary of State, if you remain dissatisfied.
The Secretary of State for Education – The Secretary of State can consider the reasonableness of the actions of the school, but he or she cannot overturn the school’s decision. Letters to the Secretary of State should be addressed to The School Complaints Unit at the Department for Education, 2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate, Manchester, M1 2WD.
NB: As legislation prevents parents, carers and pupils complaining to the Local Government Ombudsman about the internal management of schools, the Ombudsman stopped accepting new complaints after 31 January 2013.