"General Complaints Procedure"
General Complaints Procedure February 2009 1. Introduction Responsibilities Under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, governing bodies of all maintained schools and nursery schools in England are required to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides. The law also requires the complaints procedure to be publicised. In addition, the governing body must hear formal complaints from parents and others about the school's curriculum, according to laid down procedures. The day to day running of the school is the responsibility of the head teacher under the general direction of the board of governors. Procedures relating to general complaints do not replace the LEA's procedures relating to curriculum and collective worship complaints. Certain forms of complaint, e.g. staff grievance or disciplinary procedures, also fall outside the scope of these general complaints procedures. Third parties that use school premises for any purpose are encouraged to adopt their own complaints procedures. These procedures [have been discussed and agreed with the LEA and Teachers' associations]. Concerns and Complaints The day to day running of the school is the responsibility of the head teacher, the board of governors and the Local Education Authority (LEA). If parents have any cause for concern or complaint about any aspect of their child’s education at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys they should raise the matter with the School as soon as possible. The school takes concerns raised about any aspect of its activities seriously and its intention is to deal with these concerns effectively and promptly. In most cases it is expected that concerns will be raised with the class teacher or the individual delivering the service in the case of extended school provision and be dealt with without the need to resort to general formal complaints procedures. Formal procedures will be invoked when initial attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further. If at any stage and in the exceptional circumstances that the complaint is deemed by the school to be likely to involve serious disciplinary matters or in legal action, the school’s general complaints procedure will be terminated and its alternative disciplinary procedures followed and/or other appropriate actions taken normally under the supervision of the Head Teacher or in his absence a Deputy Head. The Chairman of Governors and others as appropriate will also be advised. Confidentiality will be observed as far as is consistent with proper investigation and effective handling of a complaint. It is school policy that a complaint by a parent should not in any way adversely affect their son or daughter. 2. Formal Complaints Stage One – Staff Member Review A formal complaint may be registered by completing a complaint form (at the back of this paper) and forwarding it to the Headteacher who is the school’s complaints coordinator. This should normally be done no later than 14 days after the occurrence of the matter which gave rise to the complaint. On receipt of a complaint form, the complaints coordinator will record the complaint and identify a member of staff who will contact the complainant to discuss the complaint. When raising a formal complaint, it will be helpful if the complainant could note whether, for any reason, there are any individual members of staff that they would be unhappy dealing with their complaint. These views will, as far as reasonably possible, be respected in dealing with the complaint. Similarly the views of staff will be respected if, for any reason they feel it inappropriate to be involved in a complaint if asked to do so. The purpose of the process is to establish what has happened, who has been involved and what remedies the complainant may feel appropriate. Normally this stage will involve an open discussion of the facts between the complainant and a staff member and in most cases it is hoped the complaint will be resolved at this discussion or within seven days after should there be further matters to be confirmed. It is envisaged that a complete Stage One process as a whole should be concluded within 14 days of receipt of complaint form. Where a complaint is justified the school will offer both an apology and provide an explanation as to how it believed the events came to occur and what steps are being taken to prevent recurrence. This may include changes to procedures or policies. The conclusions of the review will be confirmed in writing to the complainant. All complaints and their outcomes are recorded and subject to review, at least annually, by the school’s senior management team and the board of governors. Stage Two The school aims to ensure that all complaints are dealt with fully and satisfactorily under its Stage One procedures. There may however be occasions where a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of those Stage One procedures or with the way that that stage was conducted. In these unusual situations, a complainant may pursue their complaint by writing to the head teacher, normally within 14 days of the conclusion of Stage One. This written communication should state the nature of the remaining unresolved issues and provide an indication of how the complainant feels that their complaint could be satisfactorily resolved. Stage Two will normally involve a meeting of the complainant with the head teacher which again is designed to be an open discussion with the objective of resolving the complaint. The head teacher may conduct his own further investigations (or invite another staff member to do this on his behalf) if he feels it necessary as a result of the discussion. The head teacher will normally seek to conclude Stage Two reviews within 14 days of receipt of their request. As in Stage One, where a complaint is justified the school will offer both an apology and provide an explanation as to how it believed the events came to occur and what steps are being taken to prevent recurrence. This may include changes to procedures or policies. The conclusions of the review will be confirmed in writing to the complainant. 2 Stage Two complaints and their conclusions will also be recorded and be reviewed at least annually by the school’s senior management team and the board of governors. Where the Stage One complaint is about or involved the head teacher, Stage Two will be conducted by a school governor, normally the chairman. Stage Three – Governors’ Review Panel If it proves impossible to resolve the complaint through Stage Two, the complainant should write to the chairman of governors explaining their unresolved complaint and what they feel needs to happen in order for it to be resolved. On receipt of such a letter, the chairman of governors will organise a review panel, normally consisting of three governors. This panel will appoint their own chair which may be the chairman of governors himself or another governor. The panel chairman will ensure that the panel is independent (no governor taking part having had any prior involvement in the complaint) and confirm that it covers a cross section of governors (parent, LEA etc) as appropriate. The panel will review both Stages One and Two and decide what further action it feels necessary to deal appropriately with the outstanding complaint. The review panel may decide that there is adequate information for it to conclude on the complaint or may seek additional information from the head teacher or (where applicable) the school governor who led Stage Two. It will be up to the panel to decide whether a hearing including the parties involved in the complaint is necessary or helpful to achieve a satisfactory and fair conclusion. There is no presumption that such a hearing will take place. The panel may uphold or dismiss the complaint in whole or in part and/or decide on appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint. It may also recommend changes to the school’s systems, policies or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur. The review will normally be completed and the conclusions of the panel communicated in writing to the complainant within 30 days of receipt of a complainant’s letter. Where this is not possible those involved will be advised and all reasonable attempts will be made to conclude the review as expeditiously as possible. The panel review is the last school based avenue open to complainants. If they are unhappy with the response that they receive, they may then refer the complaint to the Kent County Council (KCC) in writing. The address is Managing Director, Children, Families and Education, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1XQ. Should they remain dissatisfied with KCC’s response, the complaint may be raised with the Department for Education and Skills, setting out their concerns in full and enclosing all previous correspondence. The address is: DfES, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT. Original Policy : May 2006 Reviewed J Harrison and Personnel Committee June 2008 Update: February 2009 – J Harrison Next Review: May 2011 (and then every 2 years) 3 General Complaints / Formal Complaints Form Please complete and return to Mr J Harrison who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken. Your name: Pupil’s name: Your relationship to the pupil: Address: Postcode: Day time telephone number: Evening telephone number: Please give details of your complaint. 4 What action, if any, have you already taken to try and resolve your complaint. (Who did you speak to and what was the response)? What actions do you feel might resolve the problem at this stage? Are you attaching any paperwork? If so, please give details. Signature: Date: 5 Official use Date acknowledgement sent: By who: Complaint referred to: Date: 6