To ensure complainants can feel assured from the outset of a fair hearing in line with the procedure for dealing with issues that have not immediately been resolved. We also hope that a staged framework might prevent an early and unnecessary escalation of the problem. In addition we will ensure the lessons learned from the investigation of complaints will prove useful to improve the School's policy and practice.
1. What constitutes a complaint in our procedure?
We accept the Local Government Ombudsman's definition of a complaint, which when applied to a school, covers the following areas:
"A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions, or lack of actions, by a school or its staff affecting an individual or a group."
Members of the public, parents/carers and students may legitimately express dissatisfaction about aspects of our work.
The consideration of a complaint will include all relevant statutory requirements, LEA advice and accepted good practice, together with the reasonableness of the actions or omissions giving rise to the complaint having regard to all the circumstances of the case.
2. Why have we adopted a General Complaints Procedure?
We hope that the adoption of a clear complaints procedure will help to ensure that most complaints are resolved quickly and smoothly and as close to the source of misunderstanding or problem as possible. In this way complainants can feel assured from the outset of a fair hearing, in line with a defined procedure for dealing with issues that have not immediately been resolved. We also hope that a staged framework might prevent an early and unnecessary escalation of the problem. In addition, we will ensure that lessons learned from the investigation of complaints will prove useful to improve school's policy and practice.
3. The Policy's Guiding Principles
The guiding principles behind our Complaints Procedure include:
Simplicity - simple well publicised stages;
Access - complainants knowing exactly where, how and to whom they should complain;
Speed & Clarity - complaints being dealt with promptly, effectively and professionally within stated time limits and at as early a stage as possible;
Action - action being agreed & reviewed, with complainants kept informed of progress throughout each stage of the procedure;
Objectivity - beyond the first informal stage of Investigation of a complaint against an individual, the subject of the complaint will not deal with it but will instead refer to his or her manager or Chair of governors where appropriate;
Development - opportunities for the school to consider changes to current practice on the basis of what complainants are saying.
4. Our Procedure for Handling Complaints
We believe that most complaints can be resolved satisfactorily by informal discussion either over the telephone or through a meeting involving the key people involved.
We will acknowledge written complaints within 5 working days and give a full response to complainants within 2 weeks. If the complaint is judged to involve complex issues, complainants will be informed within 2 weeks when they can expect a full response. Complainants will be kept informed of progress if a lengthy investigation is involved. The main aim throughout the process is to resolve the matter as quickly and effectively as possible, to everybody's satisfaction.
Stage One: Informal Complaints
Parents/carers and others should raise informal complaints or concerns with the child's Head of Department, Form Tutor or Year Co-ordinator - whoever is most appropriate. Parents will be encouraged to make prior appointments to discuss any issues that are not a routine nature. Criticisms of the professional conduct or competence of a member of staff which may be brought to a teacher's attention will be referred to the Headteacher.
If a parent believes that a complaint or concern is sufficiently serious or sensitive she/he should talk to the Deputy Head or the Headteacher, who will investigate or arrange for the complaint to be investigated, and then report back in writing or, more usually at this informal stage, through a discussion with the complainant.
Every effort will always be made to resolve the problem at this informal stage. Complainants who remain dissatisfied at this stage will be informed that they have the opportunity to make a formal complaint.
In some cases, matters affecting general school policy may be judged by the Headteacher, in consultation with the Chair of Governors to be an appropriate area for discussion at Governing Body level, in order to resolve the complaint. In these circumstances care will be taken to ensure that the identity of the complainant and the individual complained of are not disclosed in case further, more formal procedures are involved at a later stage.
Stage Two: Formal Complaints
Formal complaints should be made in writing and will normally be investigated by the Headteacher.
Any governors or members of the PTA in receipt of complaints will refer them to the Headteacher or the Chair of Governors, as appropriate, and must not become further involved themselves.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the Headteacher's response, they should contact the Chair of Governors.
The Chair of Governors will determine a method of further investigation and of formal response to the complainant. The Education Officer (Schools and Colleges) will be available to advise the Chair of Governors over the investigation and response.
If written complaints are received by the LEA, the Education Officer (Schools and Colleges) will refer these back to the Headteacher.
The complainant will receive a written response to his/her complaint. A meeting may also be arranged to convey the response to the complaint.
In some cases, a complaint may lead to disciplinary action against an individual, for which there are separate procedures. If this is the case the complainant will be informed that the complaint will be pursued through disciplinary action. Under the Governing Body's disciplinary procedures, the outcome of these procedures is confidential.
At each stage a record will be kept of the issues raised and discussed and actions agreed.
All such records will be kept in a complaints file.
Le Rocquier School endeavours to resolve all complaints as quickly and professionally as possible, however complainants must present their complaint through the correct channels. Abusive, threatening, bullying or intimidating behaviour, letters, phone calls or e-mails will be referred to the police.