Minster Church of England Primary School
Lead Person Wendy Stone
Review Date November 2018
Policy Ratification Date – 10th November 2015
Minster Church of England Primary School
‘Ready to Face the World’
Our school has a warm, Christian family ethos where our children thrive in a secure and happy atmosphere. They are fully supported and nurtured from when they join us until they leave our care.
Minster Primary School is a Church of England Primary School and our Christian values are at the heart of everything we do.
These are then underpinned by our learning values.
Our whole school ethos for learning and behaviour is guided by them. Each aspect of
school life is encountered through these values to establish a forward thinking, diverse
and innovative culture in which our entire school community flourishes.
Every school policy is written with this in mind.
In order to investigate your complaint as fully as possible the governing body has a staged process. Most issues are sorted out informally and we would recommend that you try this approach first. However, if you feel that there is nothing to be gained and you wish to make a formal complaint you have the right to go straight to stage 1 of the complaints procedure.
How to raise concerns or to make a complaint about the school
If you have a concern or complaint
We would like you to tell us about it. We welcome suggestions for improving our work in school. Be assured that no matter what the problem is, our support and respect for you and your child in school will not be affected in any way. Please tell us of your concern as soon as possible. It is difficult for us to investigate properly an incident or problem that happened some time ago.
What to do first
Most concerns and complaints can be sorted out quickly by speaking with your child’s class teacher. Please ensure you try to do this in the first instance.
If you feel your complaint has not been resolved and should be looked at by a more senior member of staff, please contact the office. It is usually best to discuss the problem face to face. You may need an appointment to do this, and can make one by ringing or calling into the school office. You can take a friend or relation to the appointment with you if you would like to.
All staff will make every effort to resolve your problem informally. They will make sure that they understand what you feel went wrong, and they will explain their own actions to you. They will ask what you would like the school to do to put things right. Of course, this does not mean that in every case they will come round to your point of view but it will help both you and the school to understand both sides of the question. It may also help to prevent a similar problem arising again.
What to do next
If you are dissatisfied with the initial response, or if you do not want to discuss the matter informally, you can make a complaint to the Headteacher. This will need to be in writing. Contact the school office if you would like some help putting your complaint in writing. A complaints form is supplied at the back of this policy for your use.
If your complaint is about an action of the Headteacher personally, then you should refer it to the Chair of Governors now. Contact details can be obtained from the school office.
You will be offered a meeting to discuss the problem. You may bring a friend or someone else for support. The Headteacher will conduct a full investigation of the complaint and may interview any members of staff or pupils involved. You will receive a written response to your complaint.
If you are still unhappy
The problem will normally be solved at this stage. However, if you are still not satisfied you may wish to contact the Chair of the Governing Body to ask for a referral of your complaint to a Governors’ Complaints Panel. It will then be heard by a group of three governors who have no previous knowledge of the problem and so will be given a fresh assessment. You will be invited to attend and speak to the panel at a meeting that the Headteacher will also attend. The Complaints Procedure sets out in more detail how these meetings operate.
Complaints about school problems are almost always settled within schools but if they remain unresolved they can be referred to the Secretary of State for Education. The Department for Education will expect the complaint to have been considered by the school governors first. For more information please see the Department for Education website (www.education.gov.uk/schoolcomplaints).
1.1. Parents are always welcome to discuss any concerns with the appropriate member of staff, who will clarify with the parent the nature of the concern and reassure them that the school wants to hear about it. Parents should be advised from the outset that there is a complaints procedure that they can use if the matter cannot be resolved. The member of staff may explain to the parent how the situation happened. It can be helpful at this point to identify what sort of outcome the parent is looking for.
1.2. If the member of staff first contacted cannot immediately deal with the matter, s/he will make a clear note of the date, name and contact address or phone number.
1.3. All members of staff will know how to refer, if necessary, to the person with responsibility for the particular issue raised by the parent. S/he will check later to make sure the referral has been dealt with.
1.4. If the matter is brought to the attention of the Headteacher she may decide to deal with the complaint. If the complaint is against the Headteacher the parent will be advised to contact the Chair of the Governing Body.
The member of staff dealing with the concern will make sure the parent is clear what action (if any) or monitoring of the situation has been agreed, putting it in writing if appropriate.
While it is often a helpful way to resolve problems more quickly, a parent or pupil is not required to pursue informal ways to address complaints but has the right to make a formal complaint at any time.
2.1 Complaints at this stage need to be recorded in writing. A complainant may wish to write in themselves. Complainants may also make their complaint verbally and can expect help to put their complaint in writing.
2.2 The Headteacher (or designated person) will acknowledge the complaint in writing within three working days of receiving the written complaint. The acknowledgement will give a brief explanation of the school’s complaints procedure and a target date for providing a response to the complaint. This should normally be within ten working days. If this proves impossible, a letter will be sent explaining the reason for the delay and giving a revised target date. This will be within a maximum of 20 working days unless it is a particularly complex issue.
2.2 The Headteacher will provide an opportunity for the complainant to meet them to supplement any information provided previously or to record the complaint in writing if it has been made verbally. It will be made clear to the complainant that if s/he wishes s/he might be accompanied to any meeting by a friend, relative, representative or advocate who can speak on his/her behalf or to provide support.
2.3 If necessary the Headteacher will interview other parties and take statements from those involved. If the complaint centres on a pupil, the pupil should also be interviewed unless this is judged not to be in the interests of the pupil’s welfare. Pupils should normally be interviewed with parents/guardians present, but if this would seriously delay the investigation of a serious/urgent complaint or if the pupil has specifically said that s/he would prefer that parents/guardians were not involved, another member of staff with whom the pupil feels comfortable should be present. If a member of staff is complained against, they must have the opportunity to present their case.
2.4 The Headteacher will keep written records of meetings, telephone conversations and other documentation.
2.5 Once all the relevant facts have been established as far as possible, the Headteacher will then produce a written response to the complainant, including a full explanation of the decision and the reasons for it. Where appropriate, this will include what action the school will take to resolve the complaint. The complainant will be advised that should s/he wish to take the complaint further s/he should notify the Chair of Governors within 20 working days of receiving the letter.
2.6 If the complaint is against the Headteacher, or if the Headteacher has been closely involved in the issue, the Chair of the Governing Body will carry out all the Stage 1 procedures.
Stage 2: Review by the Governing Body
3.1 The Chair of the Governing Body will write to the complainant to acknowledge receipt of the written request for the governing body to review the complaint. The acknowledgement will inform the complainant that three members of the school’s governing body will hear the complaint within 20 working days of receiving the complaint. The letter will also explain that the complainant has the right to submit any further documents relevant to the complaint. These must be received in time for the documents to be sent to the three members.
3.2 A meeting of the Governors’ Complaints Panel will be convened.
No governors with prior involvement in the issues complained about will be included on the panel and it may be necessary to use reserves (previously agreed by the Governing Body) to ensure the Panel can meet within the set time. Governors should bear in mind the advantages of having a parent governor on the panel, and will also be sensitive to issues of race and gender. The Headteacher will not sit on the Panel. An experienced governor will chair the panel meeting.
The Chair of the panel will ensure the Panel hears the complaint within twenty working days of receiving the letter. All relevant correspondence relating to the complaint will be given to each Panel member as soon as the composition of the panel is confirmed. If the correspondence is extensive, the Chair may prepare a thorough summary for sending to Panel members.
The Chair or clerk will write and inform the complainant, Headteacher, any relevant witnesses and members of the Panel at least five working days in advance of the date, time and place of the meeting. The notification will also inform the complainant of his/her right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend/advocate/interpreter and explain how the meeting will be conducted and the complainant’s right to submit further written evidence to the Panel.
The Headteacher will be invited to attend the Panel meeting and will be asked to prepare a written report for the Panel in response to the complaint. All attendees including the complainant should receive a set of the relevant documents including the Headteacher’s report and the agenda, at least five working days prior to the meeting.
Submission of additional documents or requests for additional attendees will be at the discretion of the Chair of the panel.
3.7 At the panel hearing:
The complainant will have the opportunity to present their complaint.
The Headteacher will explain the school’s position.
Those present will have the opportunity to ask questions.
Panel members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant and the Headteacher.
The Headteacher will be given the opportunity to make a final statement to the panel.
The complainant will be given the opportunity to make a final statement to the panel.
The chair will ask the complainant if he or she feels they have had a fair hearing.
The Chair of the Panel has responsibility to ensure that the meeting is properly minuted.
3.8 The Chair of the Panel will explain to the complainant and Headteacher that the Panel will consider its decision and that a written decision will be sent to both parties within 15 working days. The complainant, Headteacher, other members of staff and witnesses will then leave.
3.9 The Panel will then consider the complaint and all the evidence presented and
Agree a decision on the complaint;
Decide upon the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint; and
Where appropriate, suggest recommended changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur.
A written statement clearly setting out the decision of the Panel must be sent to the complainant and Headteacher. The letter to the complainant should also advise how to take the complaint further.
The school should ensure that a copy of all correspondence and notes are kept on file in the school’s records. These records should be kept separately from the pupil’s personal records.
Stage 3 The Secretary of State
If a complainant wishes to go beyond the governors’ complaints panel, they should be advised to contact the Secretary of State for Education. More information is available at www.education.gov.uk/schoolcomplaints.