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Complaints Procedure

St Mary Redcliffe C of E Primary School

Complaints Procedure

 

In order to investigate your complaint as fully as possible the Local Board of St Mary Redcliffe Primary School has implemented a staged approach. We are fully committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, in a friendly, respectful and professional way as it is in everyone’s best interest to help ensure the matter can be resolved as quickly and informally as possible. We anticipate that almost all complaints that arise will be resolved at Stage 1 or Stage 2 below, and that Stage 3 and 4 and Part 2 will only need to be followed on very rare occasions.

 

 

PART 1: Complaints Procedure

 

Stage 1: The first contact

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. 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 concerns directly at this stage; if the complaint is against the Headteacher the parent will be advised to contact the chair of the Local Board.

 

1.5. 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.

 

1.6. Where no satisfactory solution has been found within ten days, parents will be advised that if they wish their concern to be considered further they should write to the Headteacher.

 

 

Stage 2: Referral to the Headteacher for investigation

2.1 The Headteacher (or designated person) will acknowledge the complaint in writing within three school 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 school days (i.e. excluding weekends and school holidays) . If this proves impossible, a letter will be sent explaining the reason for the delay and giving a revised target date.

 

2.2 The Headteacher will provide an opportunity for the complainant to meet them to supplement any information provided previously. 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.

 

2.3 If necessary the Headteacher will interview witnesses and take statements from those involved. If the complaint centres on a pupil, the pupil should also be interviewed. 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 (see General

Principles).

 

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 four weeks of the date of the letter.

 

2.6 If, in the course of an investigation, a fault is identified, the headteacher should take immediate action to put matters right so that any potential injustice does not continue or risk happening to somebody else. 

 

What if the complaint is about the headteacher? 

If the complaint is against the Headteacher, or if the Headteacher has been closely involved at Stage 1, the chair of the Local Board will carry out all the Stage 2 procedures.

 

What if the complaint is about a governor?

The complainant should still contact the chair of the Local Board who will investigate the concerns. If the complaint is about the chair of Local Board the complainant should be referred to the vice chair. If the complaint is about the Local Board as a whole, the complainant should be referred to DBAT.

 

 

Stage 3: Review by the Local Board

3.1 The chair of the Local Board 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 twenty school days (i.e.

excluding weekends and school holidays) 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 by the chair of the Local Board and a clerk to the panel will be appointed. The Complaints Panel can be drawn from the whole Local Board. Governors with prior involvement must not be included on the panel. If s/he has not previously been involved the chair of the Local Board can chair the panel. However this does not need to be the case. It is up to the Complaints Panel to decide who should be its chair.

 

3.3 The Chair of the Complaints Panel will ensure the panel hears the complaint within twenty school days (i.e. excluding weekends and school holidays) 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.

 

3.4 The 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.

 

3.5 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 concerned, including the complainant, should receive any relevant documents including the Headteacher’s report, at least five school days prior to the

meeting. The Headteacher may also invite members of staff directly involved in matters raised by the complainant to respond in writing or person.

 

3.6 The meeting should allow for:

  • The complainant to explain their complaint and the Headteacher to explain

    the school’s response

  • The opportunity for both parties to ask questions of each other about the

    complaint.

  • Panel members to have an opportunity to question both the complainant

    and the Headteacher

  • Any party to have the right to call witnesses (subject to approval of the

    Chair) and all parties having the right to question all the witnesses

  • Final statements by both the complainant and the Headteacher.

     

It is the responsibility of the Clerk of the panel to ensure that sufficient notes are taken to record an accurate reflection of the points considered and any decisions taken or actions agreed. The notes do not need to be verbatim but should be sufficient to remind the panel of the evidence that has been

presented and the reason for the decision.

 

3.7 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 five school days. The complainant, Headteacher, other members of staff and witnesses will then leave.

 

 

 

 

3.8 The panel will then consider the complaint and all the evidence

presented and

 

  • Reach a majority 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

    happen again.

 

3.9 A written statement outlining the decision of the panel must be sent to the complainant and Headteacher. The letter to the complainant should also explain how a further appeal can be made (See Stage 4).

 

3.10 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 4 Review of the Local Board Complaints Panel Decision

 

4.1 If a parent or pupil is making the complaint, and they wish to go beyond the governors’ complaints panel, they will be advised to write to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The LGO’s contact details will be included in the letter from the governor’s complaints panel. The LGO will then investigate

and review as appropriate.

 

Someone with a complaint can contact the LGO Advice Team on 0300 061

0614, email advice@lgo.org.uk, address PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH.

 

At the time of writing, the role of the Local Government Ombudsman in hearing complaints about schools is under review by the government. Schools will be notified of any changes to the existing arrangements when details become available.

 

 

Part 2; Unreasonably persistent complainants and unreasonable

complainant behaviour

 

We are fully committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, in a friendly, respectful and professional way. We are sure that you will understand the need to behave in a similar way as it is in everyone’s best interest to help ensure the matter can be resolved as quickly and informally as possible. However the school does not expect its staff or governors to tolerate behaviour by complainants which is

unacceptable, for example, which is abusive, offensive or threatening, and they will take action to protect staff and governors from any such behaviour if it occurs. Also, there may be complainants who, because of the frequency of their contact with the school, hinder our consideration of their, or other people’s, complaints and potentially the running of the school.

 

We anticipate that such behaviour will be a very rare occurrence, but if we consider a

complainant’s behaviour is unacceptable or unreasonably persistant, we will tell them why and ask them to change it. If the behaviour continues, we my take action to restrict the complainant’s contact with the school.

 

 

The decision to restrict access to the school will be taken by the headteacher and chair of the Local Board. Any restrictions imposed will be appropriate and proportionate.

 

They may include:

  • requesting contact in a particular form (for example, letters only);

  • requiring contact to take place with a named member of staff or governor;

  • restricting telephone calls to specified days and times; and/or

  • asking the complainant to enter into an agreement about their conduct.

     

In all cases we will write to tell the complainant why we believe his or her behaviour is unacceptable or unreasonably persistent, what action we are taking and the duration of that action. We will also tell them how they can challenge the decision if they disagree with it.

 

Where a complainant continues to behave in a way which is unacceptable or unreasonably persistent, we may decide to terminate contact with that complainant and discontinue any investigation into their complaint. If we decide to carry on treating someone as an unreasonably persistent complainant and we are still investigating their complaint six months later, we will carry out a review and decide if

restrictions will continue.

 

Where the behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of the school’s staff or governors, we will consider other options, for example reporting the matter to DBAT, the police or taking legal action. In such cases, we may not give the complainant prior warning of that action.

 

Where a complainant whose case is closed persists in communicating with us about it, we may decide to terminate contact with that complainant. In such cases, we will read all correspondence from that complainant, but unless there is fresh evidence which affects our decision on the complaint we will simply acknowledge it or place it on the file with no acknowledgement.

 

New complaints from people who have come under the unreasonably persistent complainants policy will be treated on their merits.

 

 

 

St Mary Redcliffe C of E Primary School

What to do if you have a concern or a complaint.

 

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 you are wanting to tell us, 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.

 

If you have a complaint that you feel should be looked at by the Headteacher in the first instance you can contact her straight away if you prefer. 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 relative 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 issue. It may also help to prevent a similar problem arising again.

 

What to do next

If you are not satisfied with the teacher’s initial response to your questions or concerns (or with the Headteacher’s initial reaction if she has already been involved) you can make a complaint to the Headteacher. This should be made in writing. Help with this is available from the School Office.

 

If your complaint is about an action of the Headteacher personally, then you should refer it to the Chair of the Local Board now. You can contact her through the School Office.

 

You may also find it helpful at this stage to have a copy of the full statement of the School Complaints Procedures as this explains in detail what procedures are followed. This is available from the school office.

 

The Headteacher will ask to meet you to discuss the problem. Again you may take a friend or someone else with you if you wish. 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 before it reaches this stage. However, if you are still not satisfied you may wish to contact the Chair of the Local Board 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 School Complaints Procedures explains how these meetings operate.

 

Further Action

Complaints about school problems are almost always settled within schools but in exceptional cases it may be possible to refer the problem to an outside body such as the Local Government Ombudsman. Again there are more details about this in the School Complaints Procedure.

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