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”.
The DFE has the expectation that all maintained schools will use their policy and guidance so we strongly recommend that schools adopt the DFE model complaints procedure (see link below)
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.
NYCC has refreshed the complaints training on offer.
Complaints – an overview for all governors and staff: this is being delivered as a one-hour webinar and will give all delegates the confidence to recognise a complaint and know what action they need to take should a complaint be made to them. We recommend that all governors attend this session.
School Complaints – a focus on investigating complaints: a more in-depth look at handling and investigating complaints. It is suitable for headteachers, staff and governors who may be involved in this process.
To view training currently available please go to NYES (Click "Training and Events", search "Governor") You will be able to see the courses and their dates but it you would like to book on any of the courses you will have to contact your headteacher or school administrator to book you a place.
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