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Complaints Procedure

Date issued: 2018

Date to be reviewed: Governing Body to determine

The procedure has been reviewed with reference to the guidance produced by the Education
Funding Agency (EFA)* and the Education [Independent Schools Standards (England)] Regulations 2014.

Throughout the procedure the aim of all parties should be not only to resolve the complaint but also to develop and sustain good relationships between all members of the school community. However formal or serious the complaint, or however dissatisfied the complainant, the aim will always be reconciliation between all parties and a renewed commitment to work together amicably.

This Complaints Procedure does not apply to members of staff, who should use their own grievance and discipline procedures, or to any matter for which separate provision is made, such as admissions and exclusions complaints.

Where a parent or party has a concern about matters covered by these arrangements, he should, in the first instance, seek to resolve the matter informally with the school. Confidential records of letters, conversations, phone calls or other communications should be kept for future reference.

Normally, the formal procedures should only be used when it has not been possible to resolve an issue by other means and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further, using the formal complaints procedure set out below.

Urgent complaints will be considered as quickly as possible. If it is clear that investigation of a relevant complaint will take some time, the complainant will be informed of this and of progress during consideration of the complaint.

Where the complaint concerns the Headmaster, the complainant should write formally to the Chairman of Governors, at the school address. In these circumstances, the procedure will be as set out below, except that at stages 1 and 2, ‘Chairman of Governors’ shall be substituted for ‘Headmaster’; and at stage 3, ‘Vice Chairman’ shall be substituted for ‘Chairman’.

Formal Procedure

         Stage 1

1.1     The complainant should write formally to the Headmaster setting out the 
          grounds of the complaint.
1.2     On receiving a formal complaint, the Headmaster will decide whether to refer
          the atter to another member of staff who will investigate and determine the 
          complaint.
1.3     If the Headmaster decides that the complaint should not be referred to another
         member of staff, he will move the complaint to stage 2.
1.4     If in the Headmaster's view the complaint falls outside the scope of the
         arrangements, he will advise the complainant of any other recourse he may
         have.
1.5     If the matter is not resolved at this stage, the matter shall be referred to the 
         Headmaster under stage 2.
1.6    An initial response to a Stage 1 complaint will be made within five school days. If
         further investigation is required, this will be dealt with within a further period of
         five school days.

Stage 2

2.1     The Headmaster will investigate and determine the complaint.
2.2     The Headmaster will inform the complainant of the decision he has reached
          and the reason for it and of any action to be taken.
2.3     If the complainant is dissatisfied with the Headmaster’s response, the 
          complainant may refer the complaint to the Governing Body by informing the
          Clerk (stage 3).
2.4     A Stage 2 complaint will be dealt with within ten school days.

Stage 3

3.1    The complaint will be considered and disposed of by a committee of three
         members set up by the Governing Body, excluding the Headmaster, to include
         an Independent Member, to be appointed by the Chairman for the purpose. The
         Independent Member shall not be connected to the running or the
         management of the School. The Clerk shall not be a member of the Committee.
         The Chairman of the Governing Body shall appoint the Chairman of the
         Committee. The Clerk will write to the complainant with details of how the 
         Committee will consider the complaint and will provide him a copy of these
         arrangements.

3.2    If the complaint appears to be urgent, the Clerk will convene a meeting of the 
         Committee to consider the complaint within 10 school days (or such shorter 
         time as may be expedient in the circumstances) of receiving the complaint. If
         the complaint is not urgent, the Clerk will convene a meeting to consider the
         complaint within 25 school days. The Clerk will give the complainant a minimum
         of seven calendar days' notice of the date, time and place of the meeting.

3.3    The Committee may receive written evidence from the complainant on the
         complaint and from the Headmaster on what action has been taken to resolve
         the complaint.  Any written evidence will be circulated to all parties before the
         hearing. Any such material must be submitted to the Clerk no later than five
         calendar days before the meeting.

3.4    The complainant may make his representations to the Committee in person,
         accompanied by a friend if he so wishes.

3.5    The Headmaster shall be entitled to attend any meeting of the Committee at
         which a complaint is considered and may be accompanied by a friend, who
         shall not be a member of the Governing Body or any of its committees, if he so
         wishes.

3.6    The Committee may agree to either the Complainant or the Headmaster calling
         witnesses, in which case the Clerk should normally be informed five calendar
         days before the meeting.

3.7    Where the complainant chooses to attend in person, the usual order of 
         proceedings shall be as follows:

         -  the Chairman of the Committee will welcome the complainant and any 
             friend,introduce those present and explain the procedure to be followed;
         -  the complainant may be questioned by the Committee and by the
             Headmaster;
         -  the Headmaster may make a statement to the Committee regarding the
             matter of the complaint and may be questioned by the Committee or by the
             complainant through the Chairman;
         -  the complainant may summarise the complaint;
         -  the Headmaster may summarise his position; and
         -  the Headmaster, the complainant and any friend accompanying the
             Headmaster or the complainant will be asked to withdraw while the 
             Committee considers the matter.

  3.8  The Committee may:
          -  decide to reject the complaint;
          -  decide to uphold the complaint;
          -  decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint; or
          -  recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure that
              problems of a similar nature do not recur.
          -  investigate the complaint further.

          3.9  The Clerk shall inform the complainant and the Headmaster in writing within 
                 five calendar days:
                 -  of the decisions reached by the Committee and the reasons for the
                     decisions; and
                 -  if the complaint was upheld, of any action taken or proposed, including
                    details of any request to those complained against to take particular actions
                    to resolve the complaint.

3.10   Where under paragraph 3.9.5 the Committee decides to investigate the
          complaint further, the Clerk shall inform the complainant of the steps to be  
          taken and of the progress made. Any subsequent meeting of the Committee 
          shall be subject to the provisions described above in so far as they are relevant.

         3.11  The Committee shall have conduct of its own proceedings and, subject to this 
                  policy, may take any decisions in order to facilitate the expeditious hearing of
                  complaints, including giving directions on the evidence required, the
                  adjournment of hearings or altering of time limits where it believe it necessary
                  to do so.

         3.12  Pupils attending the School will be called to give oral evidence only in 
                  exceptional circumstances and entirely at the discretion of the Committee.
                  Where it is considered appropriate or in the best interests of pupils, names of
                  pupils may be withheld in reports, documents and oral evidence.

         3.13  Advice about these arrangements may be obtained from the Headmaster or the 
                 Clerk to the Governing Body.

         3.14  Appeals against a decision of the Governing Body committee should refer to
                  the EFA* document “Procedure for dealing with complaints about academies”.

 

This policy should be read in conjunction with all other policies and not as a standalone
policy.

In establishing, implementing and assessing this policy, the School will have regard to its duty, as a public authority and within its ethos, to advance equality of opportunity and eliminate discrimination. The Governing Body will review the impact of this policy on staff and pupils with protected characteristics as part of its regular assessment of its public equality duty.

* Renamed the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in April 2017.