Complaints about Schools

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 on the website. If you are in a federation you must put the policy on each of the school’s websites and the central website where appropriate. The policy must be “easily accessible”.

Academies also have to have a procedure that is publicised. The information below is specifically for maintained schools.

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.

If you have external providers on your school site they must have their own complaint policy in place.

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 the school website.
  • 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 and staff subject to complaint can supported by a friend or adviser.

Complaints must be investigated in a fair and detailed manner

  • 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.

  • Persistent and serial 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 and governors should be briefed in handling complaints to seek to ensure that a consistent approach is taken to all complaints received.

NYCC offers complaints training for all head teachers and governors. It is offered on a termly basis across the county and can be booked through NYES.

Useful Downloads

The DFE model school complaints policy can be downloaded below.  The NYCC policy document has now been withdrawn. It is strongly recommended that you adopt the new DFE model policy as soon as possible as the DFE have the expectation that all maintained schools will use this newly revised policy and guidance.

Go to

You will need to download the following documents:

If you have any questions please contact the DFE helpline on 0370 000 2288, use the DFE’s contact form or write to the DFE at

School Complaints Unit, Department for Education, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester M1 2WD