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How to raise a concern or make a complaint


Summary

We take informal concerns seriously and make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. We define a ‘concern’ as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’. 

On those occasions when complainants would like to raise their concerns formally we will follow our formal procedure, which is summarised below. We will try to resolve complaints at the earliest possible stage. We define a complaint as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.  

We are committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who complain. 

Wherever possible we will adhere to the above timeline, but if further investigations are necessary, we may need to set new time limits. Where this is the case, we will provide the complainant with details of the new deadline and give an explanation for the delay.

Stage 1 – Informal investigation by a member of the Senior Leadership Team

If the complainant feels that a concern has not been addressed, or where the outcome has been that the concern needs further investigation, they may make an informal complaint. In doing so, the following steps will be followed:
 
1. The complaint should usually made in writing and should include the following details: 
    • an overview of the complaint so far 
    • who has been involved 
    • why the complaint remains unresolved 
    • action they would like to be taken to put things right. 
2. The investigator will respond within 5 working days (excluding those which fall in the school holidays) of having received the written complaint. The response will explain what action the investigator intends to take.

3. Where the complaint is about a member of staff, the investigator may arrange an informal mediation meeting between the two parties to sees a resolution.

4. The investigator will provide written confirmation of the outcome of their investigation within 15 working days (excluding those which fall in the school holidays) of having sent confirmation of the intended action. Where the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome, they are able to progress to Stage 2 of the complaints process.

5. The investigator will make a record of the complaint and the outcomes of the investigation.

Stage 2 – Formal investigation by the Head Teacher or Chair of Governors

1. All formal complaints should be made in writing to the Head Teacher, or to the Chair of Governors if the complaint relates to the Head Teacher.

2. The investigator will respond in writing within 10 working days (excluding those that fall in the school holidays) of the date of receipt of the complaint to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and explain what action will be taken, giving clear timeframes.

3. The investigator will log all correspondence in relation to the complaint.

4. The investigator will consider all relevant evidence. This may include but is not limited to:
  • a statement from the complainant 
  • a statement from an individual who is the subject of the complaint if relevant 
  • any previous correspondence regarding the complaint 
  • any supporting documents in either case 
  • interviews with anyone related to the complaint. 
5. The investigator may decide to have a meeting with the complainant (and where relevant, the subject of the complaint) if they feel that it would be appropriate for the investigation.

6. After considering the available evidence, the investigator will either:
  • uphold the complaint and direct that certain action be taken to resolve it; 
  • reject the complaint and provide the complainant with details of the stage three appeals process; or 
  • uphold the complaint in part: in other words, the SLT member may find one aspect of the complaint to be valid, but not another aspect. They may direct for certain action to be taken to resolve the aspect that they find in favour of the complainant. 
7. The investigator will inform the complainant of the decision in writing within 20 working days (excluding those that fall in the school holidays) of having issued written acknowledgement of the receipt of the complaint. The investigator will explain clearly why they have come to the decision that they made. They must detail any agreed actions as a result of the complaint. Finally, the investigator will provide the complainant with details of how to progress the complaint to Stage 3 if they are not satisfied, providing them with the contact details of the Clerk to the Governing Body.

Stage 3 – Appeal Hearing: review by a panel of the Governing Body

If the complainant wishes to appeal a decision made at Stage 2 of the procedure, or they are not satisfied with the action taken in relation to the complaint, the complainant is able to appeal to the Governing Body. The Governing Body will consider requests for an appeal panel within four weeks of the outcome of Stage 2; after four weeks the Governing Body will only consider such requests in exceptional circumstances.

The complainant should write to the Clerk to the Governing Body, briefly outlining the content of the complaint and requesting that a complaints appeal panel is convened.

The clerk will fulfil the following roles:
  • organising the time and date of the appeal hearing
  • inviting all the attendees
  • collating all the relevant documentation and distributing this 5 days in advance of the meeting
  • recording the proceedings in the form of minutes
  • circulating the minutes and the outcome of the meeting.
On receipt of this written request, the following steps will be followed:

1. The clerk will write to the complainant within five working days (not including the school holidays) to confirm receipt of the appeal request and detail further action to be taken.

2. The clerk will convene a panel of three school governors. All three panel members will have no prior knowledge of the content of the complaint.

3. The appeal hearing will take place within 20 working days (excluding those which fall in the school holidays) of receipt of the date of the clerk’s confirmation letter to the complainant.

4. In addition to the panel, the following parties will be invited, where applicable:
  • the complainant
  • the Head Teacher or other school representative, who dealt with the complaint at Stage 2 
  • where the complaint regards a member of staff, the staff member who is the subject of the complaint. 
The complainant may bring a companion with them to the hearing if they wish. Where the subject of the complaint is a member of staff, that staff member is also able to bring a companion with them.

The companion will be a friend or a colleague. Neither party is able to bring legal representation with them. If, after the hearing, any party feels that legal action is necessary, please see the contact details at the end of the procedure.

5. If the attendance of any pupils is required at the hearing, parental permission will be sought if they are under the age of 18. Extra care will be taken to consider the vulnerability of children where they are present at a complaints hearing.

6. Where the complaint is about a governor, the complainant may request that the appeal is heard by an entirely independent panel. The decision to appoint an independent panel is at the discretion of the governing board, who will notify the clerk of their decision. Where an independent panel is required, timescales may be affected while the school source appropriate individuals for the review.

7. The panel will make one of the following decisions:
  • dismiss the complaint in whole or in part
  • uphold the complaint in whole or in part
  • decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
  • recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur.
8. All parties who attended the meeting will be informed in writing of the outcome of the appeal within 5 working days (excluding those which fall in the school holidays).

9. The school will not consider the complaint beyond this stage.

Complaints to the Department for Education

If the complainant feels that the Governing Body acted unreasonably in the handling of the complaint, they can complain to the Department for Education after Stage 3 of the complaints procedure has been completed. ‘Unreasonable’ means acting in a way that no reasonable school or authority would act in the same circumstances.

Contact details

Members of staff, the Head Teacher and Chair of Governors:

Sandringham Primary School
Sandringham Road
Doncaster
DN2 5LS
Tel: 01302 361880


Clerk to the Governing Body:

The Clerk to the Governing Body of Sandringham Primary School
Governors' Support Service
Floor 3, Civic Office
Waterdale
Doncaster
DN1 3BU
Fax: 01302 737342
Tel: 01302 737279


Department for Education:

Department for Education
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BT