In the event that you have a concern or complaint about the school, please complete the College Complaint Form which can be downloaded from the link shown below. If you are unable to print a copy of this form, contact Mrs Claire Williams, Clerk to Governors, via the School Office who will be able to provide you with a copy.
The College’s aim is to set out a procedure in relation to the Education
(Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 for resolving
parental concerns and complaints in that it:
keeping people informed of the progress;
1.1 Complainants will be offered an opportunity to discuss their concern with the appropriate member of staff designated to deal with the situation who will clarify with the complainant the nature of the concern, and reassure them that the school wants to hear about it. The member of staff may be able to explain to the complainant how the situation happened. It can be helpful to identify at this point what sort of outcome the complainant is looking for.
1.2 If the member of staff first contacted cannot immediately deal with the matter, s/he wil make a clear note of the date, name, contact address or phone number and a brief note on the nature of the complaint.
1.3 All members of staff should know how to refer on a concern, if necessary, to the person with responsibility for the particular issue raised by the complainant. S/he should check later to make sure that the referral has been successful.
1.4 The Headteacher may decide to deal with concerns directly at this stage.
1.5 If the concern relates to the Headteacher, the complainant will be advised to contact the Chair of the Governing Body, giving them details of how to do so.
1.6 The staff member dealing with the concern will make sure that the complainant is clear what action (if any) or monitoring of the situation has been agreed, putting this in writing only if this seems the best way of making things clear. However, a note should be made of the action and retained.
1.7 Where no satisfactory solution has been found within a maximum of 15 school days, complainants will be asked if they wish their concern to be considered further. If they do then they will be given clear information, both orally and in writing, about how to proceed and about any independent advice available to them.
2.1 The Headteacher (or designate) will acknowledge the complaint orally or in writing, within a maximum of 3 school days of receiving the complaint, confirming the exact nature of the complaint. The acknowledgement should give a brief explanation of the school’s complaint procedure and a target date for providing a response to the complaint. This should be within 15 school days, if this proves impossible, a letter should be sent explaining the reason for the delay and giving a revised target date for a response.
2.2 The Headteacher (or designate) will provide an opportunity for the complainant to meet him/her to supplement any information provided previously. It should be made clear to the complainant that if s/he wishes, s/he may be accompanied to any meeting by a friend, relative, representative, or advocate who can speak on his or her behalf; and that interpreting facilities are available if needed.
2.3 If necessary, the Headteacher (or designate) could interview witnesses and take signed statements from witnesses and those involved. If the complaint concerns a pupil, the pupil identified should be interviewed. The pupil should preferably be interviewed with another member of staff present and in the case of a serious complaint with their parents present.
2.4 It is strongly advised that the Headteacher (or designate) should keep a written record of interviews, telephone conversations, and other documentation.
2.5 Once all the relevant facts have been established, the Headteacher (or designate) will then produce a written response to the complainant, or may wish to meet the complainant to discuss/resolve the matter directly.
2.6 A written response should include a full explanation of the decision and the reasons for it. Where appropriate, this should include what action the school will take to resolve the complaint. The complainant should be advised that if s/he wishes to take the complaint further s/he should notify the Chair of the Governing Body within a maximum of 10 school days of receiving the outcome letter.
2.7 If a complaint is against the action of a Headteacher, the Chair of the Governing Body should carry out all the Stage 2 procedures.
This stage in the procedure can follow Stage 2 where the earlier stage has been investigated by a senior member of staff other than the Headteacher.
If the complainant is not content with the decision reached by the designate in response to their complaint they may then refer the matter to the Headteacher..
The Headteacher should endeavour to resolve any complaint referred to them at this stage and should seek to arrange a meeting with the complainant as soon as practical.
The meeting offers an opportunity to reassess all the issues, discuss any further findings from the Headteacher’s investigation, clarify the action to be taken by the school and ally the complainants worries in order to seek reconciliation.
In some circumstances it may be appropriate to invite a Diocesan representative to act as conciliator.
Should the complainant still be dissatisfied then they will be directed to put their complaint in writing to the Chair of Governors.
APPEAL TO A COMMITTEE OF GOVERNORS DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS
The procedure for review by the Governing Body
3.1 Upon receipt of a written complaint appropriate to this stage of the procedure or where a complainant appeals against the decision of the Headteacher (Stage 2 of the procedure) within an agreed period, within a maximum of 15 school days of receipt of the decision letter, the Headteacher must notify the Chair of Governors so that a review can be instituted.
3.2 The Clerk to the Governing Body will write to the complainant to acknowledge the Chair of Governors has received a written request for a review. The letter will also explain that the complainant has the right to submit any further documents relevant to the complaint. These should be made available immediately so that they can be circulated to all committee members.
3.3 The committee of the Governing Body will set a timetable for the investigation and will communicate the timetable to the complainant.
3.4 The Clerk to the Governors will arrange to convene the Complaints’
Committee elected from members of the Governing Body. (It may be necessary for the Governing Body to appoint reserves to this committee to ensure that three governors are available to carry out their task within the set time).
3.5 The Complaints’ Committee members should be governors who have had no prior involvement with the complaint. If s/he has not previously been involved, the Chair of the Governing Body should chair the committee; otherwise the Vice-Chair should do so. Generally it is not appropriate for the Headteacher to have a place on the committee.
3.6 The Chair/Vice Chair should ensure that the complaint is heard by the committee within a maximum of 20 school days of receiving the letter. All relevant correspondence regarding the complaint must be made available to the committee members at least 5 school days before the hearing.
3.7 The Chair/Vice-Chair should write and inform the complainant, Headteacher, any relevant witnesses, and members of the committee at least 5 school days in advance, of the date, time and place of the meeting. The notification to the complainant should also inform him/her of the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend/advocate/interpreter. The letter should also explain how the meeting will be conducted and the complainant’s right to submit further written evidence to the committee.
3.8 The Chair/Vice-Chair of the Governing Body should invite the Headteacher to attend the committee meeting and prepare a written report for the committee in response to the complaint. The Headteacher may also invite members of staff directly involved in matters raised by the complainant to respond in writing or in person to the complaint. Any relevant documents including the Headteacher’s report should be received by all concerned – including the complainant – at least 5 school days prior to the meeting.
3.9 The involvement of staff other than the Headteacher is subject to the discretion of the Chair of the committee.
3.10 It is the responsibility of the Chair of the committee to ensure that the meeting is properly minuted.
3.11 The aim of the meeting should be to resolve the complaint and achieve a reconciliation between the school and the complainant. However, it has to be recognised that sometimes it may only be possible to establish facts and make recommendations which will satisfy the complainant that his or her complaint has been taken seriously.
3.12 The committee should remember that many complainants are unused to dealing with groups of people in formal situations and may feel inhibited when speaking to the committee. It is therefore recommended that the Chair of the committee ensures that the proceedings are as informal as possible.
3.13 If either party should intend to introduce previously undisclosed evidence or witnesses, it is in the interests of natural justice to adjourn the meeting so that the other side has time to consider and respond to the new evidence.
3.14 The meeting should allow for
- the complainant to explain their complaint and the Headteacher to explain the school’s response
- the Headteacher to question the complainant about the complaint and the complainant to question the Headteacher and/or other members of staff (if invited to be present by the Chair of the committee) about the school’s response
- committee members to have an opportunity to question both the complainant and the Headteacher
- any party to have the right to call witnesses (subject to the approval of the Chair) and all parties having the right to question all the witnesses
- final statements by both the complainant and the Headteacher.
3.15 The Chair of the committee should explain to the complainant and the Headteacher that the committee will consider its decision, and a written decision will be sent to both parties within a maximum of 15 school days. The complainant, Headteacher, other members of staff and witnesses should then leave.
3.16 The committee should then consider the complaint and all the evidence presented and (a) reach a unanimous, or at least a majority, decision on the complaint and (b) decide upon the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint and (c) where appropriate, suggest recommended changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not happen again.
3.17 A written statement outlining the decision of the committee must be sent to the complainant and Headteacher.
3.18 The chair should ensure that parents are aware that they can complain to the Ombudsman (in rare circumstances but particularly in relation to admissions) or the Secretary of State for Education if they are unhappy with the outcome of the review.
3.19 The school should ensure that a copy of all correspondence and notes are kept on file in the school’s records.
Complaints concerning the teacher/s with responsibility for investigating complaints
Where a complaint concerns in whole or part the conduct of the teacher responsible for investigating complaints, the teacher should, on receipt of the formal complaint, immediately refer the matter to the Headteacher.
The Headteacher may either designate another member of staff to act as the teacher with responsibility for investigating the complaint, or s/he may her/himself may deal with the complaint.
Complaints concerning the Headteacher, a Governor or the Governing Body
In these cases the Chair of the Governing Body must investigate the complaint.
The complainant can appeal against the decision of the Chair within a maximum of 15 school days of receipt of the decision letter. The Governing Body can either delegate the appeal to the complaints’ committee, or may, where they think it appropriate, appoint 3 other governors to form a complaints’ panel to investigate and make a recommendation by majority decision to the Governing Body.
Complaints concerning the Chair of Governors
A senior member of staff or Headteacher, upon receiving a formal complaint against the Chair, must notify the clerk, who must then table the complaint at an extraordinary meeting of the Governing Body. The Chair must withdraw from any discussion. The Governing Body may either decide to refer the matter to the LA or appropriate diocesan authority, or must refer the complaint to the Complaints’ Committee of the governing body.
Withdrawal of Complaints
Formal complaints may be withdrawn at any stage by notice in writing.
Complaints by members of the Governing Body and pupils
Governing Bodies shall establish such procedures, as they feel appropriate for dealing with complaints from members of the Governing Body and pupils.
A complaint by a governor may be discussed at a full meeting of the Governing Body.
A Governing Body can delegate the responsibility of managing complaints by pupils to the professionals. Pupils need to know clearly how they can register their complaint and they need assurance that it will be dealt with expediently.
CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS ABOUT SCHOOLS
GUIDANCE NOTES FOR PARENTS
If you have a concern or complaint
We would like you to tell us about it. We welcome suggestions for improving our work in the school. Be assured that no matter what you are wanting to tell us, our support and respect for you and your child in the 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 which has happened some time ago.
What to do first
Most concerns can be sorted out quickly by speaking with your child’s form tutor or head of year. Any teacher or the office staff can help you find the right member of staff. If you have a concern which you feel should be looked at by the Headteacher in the first instance you can contact him/her straightaway 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 in to the College office. You can take a friend or relation to the appointment with you if you would like to so that they can support you.
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 teacher’s response (or with the Headteacher’s initial reaction if he/she has already been involved) you can make a complaint to the Headteacher. This should be made in writing.
If your complaint is about an action of the Headteacher personally, then you should refer it to the Chair of Governors now. You can contact him/her by the Clerk to the Governors c/o St Mary’s Catholic College.
You may also find it helpful at this stage to have a copy of the full statement of the General Complaints’ Procedure as this explains in detail what procedures are followed.
This is available from the College office.
The Headteacher will ask to meet you for a discussion of 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 by this stage. However, if you are still not satisfied you may wish to contact the Chair of the Governing Body to ask for referral of your complaint to the Complaints Committee of the governing body. It will then be heard by a group of three governors who have no previous knowledge of the problem and so will be able to give it a fresh assessment. You will be invited to attend and speak to the committee at a meeting which the Headteacher will also attend. The General Complaints’ Procedure statement explains how these meetings operate.
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 Ombudsman (in rare circumstances but particularly in relations to admissions) or the Secretary of State for Education. Again there is more information on this in the General Complaints’ Procedure.
Parents and carers can receive independent advice from both the National
Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations and the Advisory Centre for Education,
1c Aberdeen Studios, 22 Highbury Grove, London N5 2DQ.
Both organisations may offer advice but will not support individuals in pursuit of a complaint.