We believe that Bexton Primary School provides a good education for all our children, and that the Headteacher, staff and governors work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents. However, the school is required by law to have procedures in place in case there are complaints by parents. The following policy sets out the procedure that the school follows in such cases.
We deal with all complaints in accordance with procedures set out by the LEA. If the school cannot resolve any complaint itself, those concerned can ask the LEA to intervene.
All parents have the right, as a last resort, to appeal to the Secretary of State for Education, if they still feel that their complaint has not been properly addressed.
Our school aims to be fair, open and honest when dealing with any complaint. We give careful consideration to all complaints and deal with them as swiftly as possible. We aim to resolve any complaint through dialogue and mutual understanding and in all cases, we put the interests of the child above all other issues.
The Complaints Process
· Stage 1:
Initially complaints should be made verbally or in writing to the member of staff concerned who should inform the Headteacher even if the matter is resolved immediately.
· Stage 2
If the member of staff is unable to resolve the issue the Headteacher will consider the complaint and try to resolve the situation.
· Stage 3
If the matter is still unresolved, or if the complaint is about the Headteacher herself, the complainant should contact the Chairman of the Governing Body.
· Stage 4
If the matter remains unresolved at this stage the Chairman of the Governing Body will refer the matter to the Complaints Panel.
If the matter remains unresolved complaints may be made to the Local Education Authority, although the Authority has no power to intervene directly in most internal matters. Ultimately, complaints may be made to the Secretary of State for Education who has the power to direct the school.
It is in everyone’s interest that complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. The experience of the first contact between the complainant and the school can be crucial in determining whether the complaint will escalate. The complainant may become dissatisfied with the way in which the complaint was handled in the early stages, as well as pursuing their initial complaint.
The ability to consider the complaint objectively and impartially is crucial. The school will respect the views of a complainant who indicates that he/she would have difficulty in discussing a complaint with a particular member of staff. In these cases the staff member can refer the complainant straight to the headteacher or other member of the senior management team.
Where the first approach is made to a governor, the governor will refer the complainant to the appropriate member of staff and advise them of this complaints procedure. It is essential that governors do not act unilaterally on an individual complaint outside of this procedure, or be involved at the early stages in case they are needed to sit on a panel at a later stage. Complaints would not be heard by the full Governing Body at any stage, as this could compromise the impartiality of any panel set up for a disciplinary hearing (or appeal) against a member of staff.
All staff work very hard to ensure that every child is happy at school and is making good progress; they always want to know if there is a problem so that they can take action before the problem seriously affects the child’s progress. If a parent is concerned about anything to do with the education that the school is are providing they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with their child’s class teacher. Most matters of concern can be dealt with in this way.
§ Call in at the end of the day for an informal discussion
§ Make an appointment to see the class teacher through the school office
§ In an emergency the teacher can be released by the school to meet with a parent immediately
§ Arrange a series of appointments to ensure the issue is properly dealt with
Where a parent feels that a situation has not been resolved through contact with the class teacher or that their concern is of a sufficiently serious nature, they should make an appointment to discuss it with the Headteacher. The Headteacher considers any such complaint very seriously and investigates each case thoroughly. Most complaints are normally resolved at this stage.
If the complaint is not resolved the parent(s) should refer the issue to the governing body through the Chair of Governors. Should a parent have a complaint about the Headteacher, they should first make an informal approach to one of the members of the Governing Body who is obliged to investigate it. The governor in question will do all they can to resolve the issue through a dialogue with the school but if a parent is unhappy with the outcome they can make a formal complaint as outlined below.
Only if an informal complaint fails to resolve the matter should a formal complaint be made to the Governing Body.
If Stage 3 is reached then the complainant will be asked to formally put their complaint in writing to the Chairman of the Governing Body. The Chairman will ask the clerk of the Complaints Panel (normally the Clerk to the Governing Body) to convene a meeting.
The Governing Body has nominated a number of members with delegated powers to hear complaints. Their delegated powers are set out in the Personnel Committee’s terms of reference section of the governor’s Roles and Responsibility policy. The panel will be drawn form these nominated members and will consist of three people. The panel will elect its own chairman.
The panel can:
· Dismiss the complaint in whole or in part
· Uphold the complaint in whole or in part
· Decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
· Recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur.
The panel will:
· Be independent and impartial and be seen to be so. No Governor may sit on the panel if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or in the circumstances surrounding it.
· Aim to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant. However, it has to be recognised that the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the hearing does not find in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations, which will satisfy the complainant that his or her complaint has been taken seriously.
· Ensure that the hearing is held in private and make the proceedings welcoming and non-adversarial. Complainants may be nervous in a formal setting and may be emotional when discussing an issue, which affects their child.
· Recognise that the complainant may be a child. Careful consideration must be given to the atmosphere to ensure that the child does not feel intimidated. The views of the child must be given equal consideration to those of adults. Where child’s parent is the complainant they should be given the opportunity to say which parts of the hearing, if any, it is appropriate for the child to attend.
The clerk will:
· Be the contact point for the complainant
· Set the date, time and venue of the hearing making it convenient and accessible to all parties
· Collate written material and distribute it to the parties in advance of the hearing
· Meet and welcome the parties as they arrive
· Record the proceedings
· Notify all parties of the decision of the panel.
The Chairman of the Panel will ensure that:
· The remit of the panel is explained to the parties and that each party has the opportunity to put their case without undue interruption, to ask questions of the other party and to sum up at the end
· The issues are addressed
· Key findings of fact are made
· People are put at ease
· The hearing is conducted in and informal manner with each party treating each other with respect and courtesy
· The panel is open-minded and acting independently
· No member of the panel has a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings or any involvement in an earlier stage of the procedure
Following the hearing the panel will consider the matter and make a decision. The complainant will be notified the decision within five working days of the hearing.
If the complaint is not resolved a parent may make representation to the LEA. Further information about this process is available from the school or from the LEA. A further meeting is chaired by an independent person who considers all the evidence and makes a further judgement in an attempt to resolve the complaint.
If any parent is still not content that the complaint has been dealt with properly, then they are entitled to appeal to the Secretary of State for Education.
Monitoring and Review
The governors will monitor the complaints procedure annually in order to ensure that all complaints are handled properly. The Headteacher will log all complaints received by the school and record how they were resolved. Governors will examine this log on an annual basis.
Governors will take into account any local or national decisions that affect the complaints process and make any modifications necessary to this policy. This policy is made available to all parents in the Parents’ Policy File located in the school office so that they can be properly informed about the complaints process.
The complaints procedure is also available on the school’s website at www.bexton.cheshire.sch.uk