Complaints Procedure

Effective from 1 August 2012

 

 

Introduction

Dundonald Primary School is committed to providing a high quality service to all its pupils and parents/carers. When things go wrong, the School should be informed promptly, as everyone should be treated fairly.  Any complaint by a pupil, parent or carer is a serious matter and will be dealt with promptly. The School will fully investigate the circumstances of the complaint and any issues that are raised by it. 

The School will use the results of the investigation to help prevent any further similar complaints and to put in place any systems and procedures which will ensure improvements.

 

Our Complaints Procedure

Dundonald Primary School has a procedure for dealing with complaints, which is set out below.  Any formal complaints made about either a member of staff or the Headteacher will be investigated thoroughly.  These complaints are recorded in a central register.

a)  Complaints about the actions of a member of staff other than the Headteacher

Informal Stage – you may communicate directly with the member of staff concerned. 

Formal Stage – if the complaint is not resolved at the informal stage, you may put the complaint in writing, if possible, and pass it to the Headteacher, who will be responsible for its investigation.  You should include details, which might assist the investigation, such as names, dates and times of events, and copies of relevant documents.  The Headteacher will acknowledge receipt of the complaint by letter within 5 school days. Thereafter, the Headteacher will conduct the investigation and inform you of the outcome within 15 school days, which may be one of the following:

  • There is insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion, so the complaint cannot be upheld;
  • The complaint is not substantiated by the evidence;
  • The complaint was substantiated in part or in full (some details may then be given of action the School may be taking to review procedures, but details of  any disciplinary procedures will not be released).
  • The complaint has been fully investigated and appropriate procedures, which are strictly confidential, are being followed (e.g., where staff disciplinary procedures are being followed).

Where a substantive response cannot be provided within the prescribed period (for instance, where a significant amount of investigation is required), the Headteacher will advise of this, and, if possible, provide a time by which a substantive response will be provided.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you will have the right to follow the procedure outlined in ‘b’ below.

 

b)  Complaints about the actions of the Headteacher or School Policy
 

Informal Stage – you should arrange to speak directly to the Headteacher.  If the matter is not resolved, and both parties agree, then a third party (e.g., the Deputy Headteacher) may be invited to act as mediator at a further meeting. 

Formal Stage – if not resolved at the informal stage, the complaint may be put in writing, if possible, and passed to the Chair of Governors, who will set up a Governing Body Review panel to investigate the complaint.

 

Governing Body Review

The review should be conducted by a panel of up to three members of the Governing Body, who will not have had any previous involvement in consideration of the complaint.

The panel will first receive written (and oral, if being considered) evidence from the complainant.

You should include all relevant details to assist the investigation.  You may be invited to meet the Governing Body Review panel to discuss or clarify the complaint in person or by telephone.  The Governing Body Review panel may interview witnesses and collect any further information.  The Headteacher should be provided with a copy of the complaint and any additional evidence provided.  Once s/he has received this information, s/he will be invited to discuss the complaint with the Governing Body Review panel. 

The panel may invite the Headteacher to respond in writing to the evidence.

The panel may also access the records related to the entire complaint.

All parties will be notified in writing of the outcome, within 15 school days of any investigation being concluded.  This may be to the effect that:

  • There is insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion, so the complaint cannot be upheld;
  • The complaint is not substantiated by the evidence;
  • The complaint was substantiated in part or in full, but the procedural failure did not affect the outcome significantly, so the matter is now closed;
  • The complaint was substantiated in part or in full, and the Governing Body will take steps to prevent a recurrence and/or to rectify the situation (some details may then be given of action the School may be taking to review procedures, but details of any disciplinary procedures will not be released)

Where a substantive response cannot be provided within the prescribed period (for instance, where a significant amount of investigation is required), the panel will advise of this, and, if possible, provide a time by which a substantive response will be provided.

 

c) Further action

If you remain unsatisfied, you have  the right to pursue the complaint with the Secretary of State for Education.  Website: www.education.gov.uk/schoolcomplaints (using their online school complaints form). Making a complaint to the Department should only happen once the School’s complaints procedure set out above has been followed.

 

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and local authority will continue to accept complaints directly from young people and their parents or carers about:

  • school transport services
  • special educational needs
  • school admissions
  • permanent exclusions from a school
  • children who are out of school

In such cases you may contact the local authority at childrensservicescomplaints@merton.gov.uk

As well as inspecting schools and monitoring how they perform, Ofsted also considers complaints if they affect the school as a whole. For example:

  • the school is not providing a good enough education
  • the pupils are not achieving as much as they should, or their different needs are not being met
  • the school is not well led and managed, or is wasting money
  • the pupils’ personal development and wellbeing are being neglected.

 

You can contact Ofsted by calling its helpdesk from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday on 0300 1234 234 or by email at enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk. Staff on its helpdesk will discuss your concerns with you and advise you whether or not to put your complaint in writing. For more information visit http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/schools/for-parents-and-carers/how-complain.

 

d) Persistent or vexatious complaints

There are occasions when complainants behave in an unreasonable manner when raising and/or pursuing concerns. The consequences are that the actions of the complainants begin to impact negatively on the day-to-day running of the school and directly or indirectly the overall well-being of the children or staff in the school.

In these exceptional circumstances a governing body review panel will inform the complainant in writing that: his/her behaviour is now considered by the school to be unreasonable/unacceptable; the school will formally refuse to respond to the issues in the complaint; no further complaints from the complainant will be considered and that if this behaviour is not modified the school may take professional advice on further actions, having regard to the nature of the complainant’s behaviour and the effect of this on the school community. A complainant may pursue their complaint with a relevant authority listed in Section c above.

For the purpose of this policy, a persistent complainant is a parent/carer or member of the public who complains about issues, either formally or informally, or frequently raises issues that the complainant considers to be within the remit of the school, and whose behaviour is unreasonable. Such behaviour may be characterised by:

a) actions which are obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific, repetitious;

b) prolific correspondence or excessive e-mail or telephone contact about a concern or complaint;

c) use of Freedom of Information requests excessively and unreasonably

d) an insistence upon pursuing unsubstantial complaints and/or unrealistic or unreasonable outcomes;

e) an insistence upon pursuing complaints in an unreasonable manner;

f) an insistence on only dealing with the headteacher on all occasions irrespective of the issue and the level of delegation in the school to deal with such matters;

g) an insistence upon repeatedly pursuing a complaint when the outcome is not satisfactory to the complainant but cannot be changed, for example, if the desired outcome is beyond the remit of the school because it is unlawful.

 

For the purpose of this policy, harassment is the unreasonable pursuit of such actions as in (a) to (g) above in such a way that they:

a) appear to be targeted over a significant period of time on one or more members of school staff and/or

b) cause ongoing distress to individual member(s) of school staff and/or

c) have a significant adverse effect on the whole/parts of the school community and/or

d) are pursued in a manner which can be perceived as intimidating and oppressive by the recipient. This could include situations where persistent demands and criticisms, whilst not particularly taxing or serious when viewed in isolation, have a cumulative effect over time of undermining confidence, well-being and health.

 

Reviewed by: The Personnel Committee – 19 March 2014

Approved by: The Governing Body – 25 March 2014