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GILSLAND CHURCH OF ENGLAND PRIMARY SCHOOL
Review date: March 2018
Signed: ……………………………….. (Chair of Governors)
Anyone who has dealings with the school can use this procedure, whether a pupil, a parent or carer, a visitor, a neighbour, or a provider of a service to the school. If you wish to raise a concern or complain on someone else’s behalf, the school will only deal with this if the person on whose behalf you are complaining is unable to do so for themselves.
For the purposes of this document a ‘concern’ may be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’. A complaint may be generally defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.
The school expects that most concerns can be resolved informally and will use its best endeavours to resolve complaints that are made informally, or any concerns that are raised, on that basis.
The school expects concerns and complaints to be brought to the attention of the school as quickly as possible. Complaints notified to the school after three months from the date of the incident will usually be ruled ‘out of time,’ unless there are exceptional circumstances. The school may under certain circumstances escalate a concern to a complaint in order to speed up the resolution of the issue.
If your concern or complaint is in relation to any of the following, we will need to refer to the local authority or other adviser to ensure that the relevant statutory or local authority procedure is used:
• the admission of your child
• the exclusion of your child
• local authority processes for assessing children with special educational needs
• allegations against staff of child abuse or other disciplinary matters.
If informal procedures fail to resolve the issue, a formal complaint must be given verbally or in writing to the Headteacher and will be dealt with under the Complaints Policy and Procedure.
Every complaint shall receive fair and proper consideration and a timely response. Please refer to the following guidelines for the specific timescales. The school will endeavour to do all we can to resolve your concern.
Our Complaints Procedure will:
• ensure resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
• be easily accessible and publicised
• be simple to understand and use
• be impartial
• be non-adversarial (with emphasis on co-operation)
• allow swift handling with established time-limits for action and keeping people informed of the progress
• ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary
• respect people’s desire for confidentiality
• address all the points at issue and provide an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary.
Gilsland C E Primary School will be clear about the difference between a concern and a complaint. We will take concerns seriously at the earliest stage to reduce the numbers that develop into complaints.
STAGE ONE – INFORMAL RESOLUTION
1. It is hoped that most complaints and concerns will be resolved quickly and informally.
2. If your concern or complaint is about something that a person has or has not done,
e.g. a member of staff, the Headteacher, a governor, or a volunteer, you should make an arrangement through the school office to discuss the matter with that person or their manager. If the matter regards an aspect of school practice or policy, you should contact the Headteacher.
3. If your concern or complaint is about the Headteacher, you should contact the Chair of Governors who will arrange for it to be investigated by a nominated member of the governing body.
4. If your concern or complaint is about the Chair of Governors, you should contact the Clerk to the governing body, who will make the arrangement for investigation by another member of the governing body.
5. If parents have a concern or complaint they should normally contact their child’s Class Teacher. In many cases, the matter will be resolved straightaway by this means
to the parents’ satisfaction. If the Class Teacher cannot resolve the matter alone, it may be necessary for him/her to consult the Headteacher and/or other members of teaching staff.
6. Complaints and concerns made directly to the Headteacher will usually be referred to the relevant Class Teacher unless the Headteacher deems it appropriate for him/her to deal with the matter personally.
7. The Class Teacher will make a written record of all concerns and complaints and the date on which they were received. (See Appendix A) and ensure that all complaints are brought to the attention of the Headteacher. For complaints that involve pupils at the school, these records will be kept for one (1) year after the pupil leaves the school. For other complaints, records will be kept for one academic year following the complaint.
8. The school will use its reasonable endeavours to resolve any informal complaints within ten (10) working days of them being raised, except where they are raised in holidays or within two (2) working days of the end of a school term, where the school will use its reasonable endeavours to resolve them as soon as possible after the commencement of the new term (usually within ten (10) working days).
STAGE TWO – FORMAL RESOLUTION
1. If you remain dissatisfied by our response to your concern, then you should make a formal complaint in writing* to the Headteacher, even if you have already met and discussed the concern.
All letters should be sent to the school address, marked ‘Confidential: for immediate attention.’
All emails should be sent to the following email address, subject ‘Confidential: for immediate attention.’ firstname.lastname@example.org.
The letter/e-mail should:
• state that you are making a complaint
• give specific details
• say what you want the school to do to put things right
2. The Headteacher will arrange for the complaint to be investigated. It may be necessary for the Headteacher to meet with the complainant before the complaint is investigated to clarify aspects of the complaint.
3. The Headteacher will, after considering the outcome of any investigation, decide the appropriate course of action to take in respect of the complaint.
4. In most cases, the Headteacher will meet or speak with the complainant to discuss the matter. If possible, a resolution will be reached at this stage.
5. The Headteacher will use reasonable endeavours to speak to or meet with the complainant within ten (10) working days of the formal complaint being received. Where the complaint is received in school holidays or within two (2) working days of the end of a school term, or where a complex investigation is required, the Headteacher will use his/her reasonable endeavours to speak or meet with the complainant as soon as possible, this may be after the commencement of the new term (usually within ten (10) working days).
6. The Headteacher will keep a written record of all meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint.
7. Once the Headteacher is satisfied that, so far as is practicable, all of the relevant facts have been established, a decision will be made. The complainant will be informed of this decision in writing, giving reasons for the decision. The written decision should be provided no later than ten (10) working days after speaking or meeting with them to discuss the matter. The Headteacher may also arrange to meet with complainant to explain the decision.
8. The school will keep a written record of all formal complaints, including records of meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint, and the school’s decision, these records will be kept for one (1) year after the pupil leaves the school. This record will state if complaints were resolved at the preliminary hearing or if they were taken to appeal.
9. Where a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the school’s response to their formal complaint, they have the opportunity to have their complaint considered by an independent Complaints Panel. (Please see Stage 3 for further details).
Please be aware that if your complaint alleges misconduct by a member of staff, the school must use a separate procedure which is confidential to the employer and employee. You will not normally be given any details of the outcome and the right of appeal does not apply.
STAGE THREE – PANEL HEARING
1. If complainants seek to invoke Stage Three following failure to reach an earlier resolution and where dissatisfied with the Headteacher’s decision in respect of their formal complaint, they may, in writing* addressed to the Chair of Governors, request that their complaint be further considered by an independent Complaints Panel set up for this purpose.
2. This request for further assessment of the complaint will, for the purposes of this Procedure be known as an ‘appeal’.
3. Complainants must lodge their appeal in writing* and within ten (10) days of the date of the school’s decision made in accordance with the Stage Two Procedure. The complainants should provide a list of their complaint(s) made against the school and which they believe to have been resolved unsatisfactorily by the Stage Two Procedure, along with the remedies sought in respect of each.
4. The Complaints Panel is only obliged to consider the complaint(s) lodged in this ‘initial submission’ although they may use their discretion to consider other relevant and related matters that may subsequently arise.
5. Where an appeal is received by the Chair of Governors, he/she will refer it within five
(5) working days to the Clerk to the Board of Directors who will act as Clerk to the Complaints Panel. Where the appeal is received by the school during school holidays, or within two (2) working days of the end of a school term, the Chair of Governors has five (5) working days upon commencement of the school term to refer the matter to the Clerk.
6. The Clerk provides an independent source of advice on procedure for all parties.
7. Once an appeal has been received by the Clerk, he/she will acknowledge the appeal in writing within five (5) working days, and inform the complainant of the steps involved in this Complaints Procedure.
8. The Clerk will then endeavour to convene an independent Complaints Panel hearing as soon as possible to consider the matter, normally no later than twenty (20) school days after receipt by the school of the complainant’s written notice that they wish to invoke the Stage Three Procedure, dependent upon the availability of the Panel members.
9. The independent Complaints Panel will consist of the Chair of Governors, if they have not been directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint, or member of the Board of Directors who has not previously been involved in the complaint, and one person independent of the management and running of the school. The process used for selecting an independent person will conform to any relevant guidance issued by the Department for Education (DfE)
10. A parent who is attending a hearing is permitted to be accompanied .
11. Evidence will initially be sent to the Clerk, who will then circulate the documentation to all parties, including the Panel members, along with an order of proceedings. All written evidence must be received by the Clerk no later than ten (10) working days in advance of the hearing. The Clerk will distribute the written evidence to the relevant parties no later than five (5) working days in advance of the Panel hearing.
12. If possible, the Panel will resolve the complaint immediately without the need for further investigation. Where further investigation is required, the Panel will decide how it should be carried out.
13. After due consideration of all the facts they consider relevant, the Panel will reach a decision, and may make recommendations, which it shall complete within ten (10) working days of the hearing. The decision reached by the Complaints Panel is final.
14. Any decision reached that may have financial implications for the school will need the appropriate approval from the relevant authorities, e.g. Board of Directors, although any such approval must be compatible with the decision of the Complaints Panel.
15. The Panel’s findings will be sent by the Clerk in writing to the complainant, the Headteacher, the school Governors and, where relevant, the person complained of.
16. The letter will state any reasons for the decision reached and recommendations made by the Complaints Panel.
17. The school will keep a record of all appeals, decisions and recommendations of the Complaints Panel, which record will be kept for one (1) year after the pupil leaves the school.
You may at any time contact the school and ask for a Resolution meeting (and the school may offer a Resolution meeting at any time) which means that the formal investigation and appeal procedure can be suspended and a meeting held to resolve matters informally, usually within ten (10) school days of the request or offer being made. Should the Resolution meeting fail to resolve the complaint, Stage two or Stage three will be resumed.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE
You have a separate right to complain to the Education Funding Agency if you believe that the academy has not dealt with the complaint properly. Any complaint can be submitted via the schools complaints form.
Further guidance is available from:
If your complaint is about a whole school issue, you have a separate right to complain to the Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted). Contact details can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk. Note, however, that Ofsted do not consider complaints relating to individual children but they may use the information to bring forward an inspection.
Please see attached policy. Page:
For any complaint about the following, contact the local authority on 0800 121 8800 for advice and information:
• an appeal against a decision relating to the admission or exclusion of your child;
• an appeal against a local authority decision about your child’s special educational needs;
• an allegation of child abuse or other criminal offence.
The governing body is not responsible for handling complaints about third party providers offering community facilities or services through our premises or using school facilities for external events. The governing body will however take reasonable steps to ensure that such providers have their own complaints procedures.
*In accordance with the Equality Act, witnessed verbal communication is an acceptable alternative under certain circumstances
*In accordance with the Equality Act, witnessed verbal communication is an acceptable alternative under certain circumstances
Whilst we recognise that some concerns may relate to serious and distressing incidents, we will not accept threatening or harassing behaviour, and will take steps, supported by legal action as appropriate, to ensure that the school can continue its work safely and securely.
What is meant by 'an unreasonably persistent complainant’?
An unreasonably persistent complainant may be anyone who engages in unreasonable behaviour when making a complaint. This will include parents and carers who pursue complaints in an unreasonable manner. Unreasonable behaviour may include:
• actions which are o out of proportion to the nature of the complaint, and/or o persistent – even when the complaints procedure has been exhausted, and/or
o personally harassing, and/or unjustifiably repetitious and/or
• an insistence on o pursuing unjustified, groundless complaints and/or o unrealistic outcomes to justified complaints and/or o refusing to accept the decision and/or
• an insistence on o pursuing justifiable complaints in an unreasonable manner (eg using abusive or threatening language; and/or
o making complaints in public; and/or o refusing to attend appointments to discuss the complaint and/or o refusing to specify the grounds of the complaint and/or o refusing to accept that issues are not within the remit of the complaints procedure or insisting that complaints are dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the adopted complaints procedure and/or
o actions which include changing the basis of the complaint o and/ or denying statements previously made o and/or introducing new information and/or making unnecessarily excessive demands on the time and resources
What is ‘harassment’?
We regard harassment as the unreasonable pursuit of issues or complaints, particularly if the matter appears to be pursued in a way intended to cause personal distress rather than seek a resolution. Behaviour will be considered harassment if:
o it appears to be deliberately targeted over a significant period of time at one or more members of school staff or others, without good cause;
o the way in which a complaint or other issues is pursued (as opposed to the complaint itself) causes ongoing distress to school staff or others;
o it has a significant and disproportionate adverse effect on the academy community, interfering with the daily business of the education of pupils.
The school will make the following response:
o inform the complainant informally that his/her behaviour is now considered by the school to be unreasonable or unacceptable, and request a changed approach
o If no change is forthcoming, inform the complainant in writing that the school considers his/ her behaviour is unacceptable, what action is being taken and the duration of that action.
o require all future meetings with a member of staff to be conducted with a second person present: in the interests of all parties, notes of these meetings may be taken
o inform the complainant that, except in emergencies, the school will respond only to written communication
Where a complainant continues to behave in a way which is unacceptable, the school may decide to terminate contact with that complainant and discontinue any investigation into their complaint. However the school will seek to limit any detriment to any pupils, as far as is reasonable within these circumstances e.g. access to parents evenings, newsletters, and any other correspondence.
The school has a duty of care to its staff and pupils and will take emergency measures should these become necessary in extreme cases.
The school will not tolerate any form of physical or verbal aggression against its staff. If staff are subject to this type of aggression the school may:
o ban the individual from entering the school site, with immediate effect o prosecute under Anti-Harassment legislation
There will be occasions when, despite all stages of the procedures having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied. If the complainant tries to reopen the same issue, the Chair of the Governing Body is able to inform them in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is now closed. If the complainant writes again on the same issue, then the correspondence may be recognised as vexatious and there will be no obligation on the part of the school to respond.
It is important to note, however, that should a complainant raise an entirely new and separate complaint that it will be responded to in accordance with this complaints procedure.
Although fulfilling a public function, schools are private places. The public has no automatic right of entry. The school will therefore act to ensure that the school and other premises remain a safe place for pupils, staff and other members of their community.
If a someone’s behaviour is a cause for concern, the school can ask him/her to leave school premises. In serious cases, the headteacher can notify them in writing that their implied licence to be on school premises has been temporarily revoked subject to any representations that they may wish to make. Schools should always give the person involved the opportunity to formally express their views on the decision to bar in writing.
The decision to bar should then be reviewed, taking into account any representations made by the person involved, and either confirmed or lifted. If the decision is confirmed the person involved should be notified in writing, explaining how long the bar will be in place.
Anyone wishing to complain about being barred can do so, by letter or email, to the headteacher or Chair of the Local Governing Body, as appropriate. However, complaints about barring cannot be escalated to the Department for Education. Once the school’s complaints procedure has been completed, the only remaining avenue of appeal is through the Courts; independent legal advice must therefore be sought.
Gilsland Church of England Complaint form (Appendix A)
Please complete and return to ………………………………………………. (name of staff member) who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken.
Your relationship to the pupil:
Day time telephone number:
Evening telephone number:
Please give details of your complaint. (continue on a separate page if necessary)
What action, if any, have you already taken to try and resolve your complaint. (e.g. Who did you speak to and what was the response?
What actions do you feel might resolve the problem at this stage?
Are you attaching any paperwork? If so, please give details.
Date acknowledgement sent:
Complaint referred to: