In accordance with the law, all schools must have and publish procedures to deal with complaints. The procedures must be accessible to parents upon request. As a parent, there may be many reasons why you will want to make a complaint, from educational standards to bullying. Make sure you ask for (or know where to find them) a copy of the school’s policies and procedures on discipline and anti bullying as well as the complaints procedure. These should be published on the school’s website. There is government guidance available to parents on how to complain.
It is advisable, in the first instance, to seek to resolve any concerns you may have through the school’s internal procedures and this will usually involve addressing your concerns verbally. It is important to take notes either during or after the meeting as these may become useful later and will act as an aide memoire.
If your concerns are not alleviated at this stage, you can formalise your complaint in writing. The complaint is usually sent to the headteacher, or to the chair of Governors/Academy trustees if the complaint is against the headteacher. It is important to clearly set out what your concerns are and what you are seeking to achieve as a resolution. If you are dissatisfied with the written response following your complaint, most schools will offer a complaint hearing where your concerns can be raised orally before a Panel.
If your complaint is about how the school is run as a whole, you can complain to Ofsted. They will not deal with individual complaints.
After completion of the internal procedures
For all state schools, once you’ve exhausted the internal procedure and remain dissatisfied, you can write to the Department for Education (‘DfE’).
For independent schools, you should follow the internal complaints procedure first. Again, you should ask for a copy if it is not on the website. Thereafter, you can write to the Independent School Inspectorate if you remain dissatisfied and/or if you have any safeguarding concerns. The DfE will not consider individual complaints against independent schools. They may take an interest if the school is failing to meet major standards.
For matters relating to Academies, after the complaints procedure, you can write to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (‘ESFA’).
For post 16 provisions, such as Sixth Form and Colleges, after the internal procedures, you can further complain to the ESFA.
If you are in need of legal advice or support with your complaint, please contact our team who are here to help.