Complaints about Schools
Working with your school to solve problems
Good communication is vital for building a partnership between home and school and it also builds understanding and co-operation between parents, staff and governors.
Contact the school and try to sort the problem out informally.
If can't be resolved informally, write to Head Teacher or Chair of Governors as soon as possible, setting out why you remain dissatisfied.
School replies within 3 school weeks.
If still dissatisfied, write to Chair of Governors setting out why you are unhappy and what you would like the school to do to resolve the complaint.
A panel of governors considers the complaint and replies within 3 school weeks.
If you are dissatisfied with the response from the school's governors, write to the Director of Children and Families to see if your complaint is one that the Children and Families Department can consider.
Children and Families Department will let you know if it can consider your complaint within 15 working days.
If still dissatisfied, contact the Secretary of State for Education or the Government Ombudsman.
Children and Families staff can provide details of how to contact these organisations.
The Local Authority is not responsible for the day to day running of schools, therefore, any complaint received will be directed back to the school to resolve in liaison with the complainant.
Frequently asked questions
Should I tell the school when I am happy with the way it is doing things?
Yes. The school will be very pleased to hear that things are going well and your comments will let them know that you appreciate their efforts.
What if I have concerns about something at school?
Contact the school. They will want to know if something concerns you or your child.
They can then look into the matter and let you know what the position is. If necessary, they can clear up any misunderstandings or take steps to put things right.
Should I make a complaint?
You might consider making a complaint if you are unhappy about something that happened at school, or if you are unhappy about the way that the school handled something.
If you think something is seriously wrong, you should get in touch with the school.
Always try and discuss matters with the school. Let them know about the problem and allow them to investigate and sort out anything that needs to be put right.
Putting your complaint in writing will help to make your concerns clear.
The school's response to a complaint will be based on the policies agreed by its governing body and will try to be fair to everyone concerned. You should bear in mind that the school might not agree with your view of a particular situation.
Who should I contact at the school?
It depends on the circumstances. Often the Class Teacher will be able to deal with your concerns.
However, some serious issues may need to involve a senior member of staff or the Head Teacher.
A complaint about a Head Teacher will need to be considered by the Chair of Governors.
Certain specific complaints, for example, about admissions to the school, are handled separately. School staff or staff at the Children and Families Department can advise you on where to direct your complaint.
To make sure that things go smoothly, you must be courteous and polite when you contact the school.
What if the problem can't be resolved informally?
You should contact the Head Teacher and let him or her know why you are not satisfied. In response, the school will investigate your complaint and may invite you to a meeting to discuss the matter.
The school may also arrange for a mediator to attend the meeting to help try and resolve the matter.
After trying all other ways, you may decide to make a formal complaint to the school's governing body.
If school staff cannot resolve your complaint then a panel of governors (not previously involved in the case) will consider the matter and make a decision.
You need to write to the Chair of Governors setting out your complaint and the reasons why you are not satisfied with how the school has responded.
What happens next?
The panel of governors will write to you and let you know their view of the complaint. Their decision is usually final.
If you are not happy with the decision, you can ask the Children and Families Department (by writing to the Director of Children and Families) whether your complaint is one that the department can consider.
If you are still unhappy, you can contact the Secretary of State for Education or the Local Government Ombudsman.
The school's complaints procedure exists so that your views on a particular situation, and those of the other parties involved, can be heard. Parents and carers have a right to be heard. And so do school staff and school governors.
While you may not always agree with the response from the school, the complaints procedure aims to make sure that your concerns are handled properly and fairly.