Complaints about Schools

It is a statutory requirement on governing bodies of schools to have a procedure to deal with complaints about the school and any facilities or services that the school provides. The procedure must also be publicised. From July 2012 the duty to consider complaints about the curriculum, sex education and religious worship in maintained schools has been removed. From August 2012, complaints about maintained schools not resolved by the school that would have been considered by the LGO or the Local Authority should be addressed to the Secretary of State for Education.

What is the definition of a complaint?

A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction about the school and any community facilities or services that the school provides.

The principles of any school complaints procedure should include:

  • Informal resolution - if possible, complaints should be resolved through informal discussion and negotiation.
  • the procedure should be easy to understand and to use - the language will be simple and can be made available in different languages and formats where necessary.
  • the procedure must be well publicised and easily accessible to all via:
    • posters;
    • leaflets sent out with other school material;
    • on the school website;
    • information at parents' days, and at other appropriate school events.
  • impartiality and confidentiality - all complaints should be dealt with impartially and subject to the need to investigate the matter fully, in confidence.
  • time limits - complaints should be dealt with within clear time limits and everyone will be kept fully informed.
  • support - complainants should be encouraged to be supported by a friend or adviser.
  • Full and fair investigation - 
    • the complaint should be fully investigated;
    • if necessary, and at the discretion of the Chair of the Governing Body, an independent person can be appointed by the Chair to conduct the investigation;
    • the principles of fairness and impartiality should be fully observed at all times.
    • If the complaint is justified appropriate redress should be offered.
  • Addressing any problems - any issues identified through the investigation of the complaint as requiring action should be addressed.
  • Support for staff - staff should be given the same level of support as the complainant.
  • Anonymous complaints - should be investigated but only in so far as it is possible and practicable.
  • Vexatious complaints - should be assessed to decide whether any new issues have been raised. If so then these should be investigated in accordance with the Complaints Procedure.
  • Training - all staff should be briefed in handling complaints to seek to ensure that a consistent approach is taken to all complaints received.
  • Persistent complainants - complaints should be thoroughly investigated but should not be re-opened unless relevant new issues are brought forward.

A model school complaints policy can be downloaded below. More information on making comments, compliments or complaints about County Council services can be found by following the link to the right of this page.

Useful Downloads

Model Governing Body Policy - General Complaints Procedure - Updated August 2016

Leaflet for Complainants- General Complaints Procedure - Leaflet for Complainants - August 2016

Best Practice Advice for School Complaints - January 2016