Parental Complaints Policy
- This document establishes the framework within which complaints by parents/carers will be addressed and the philosophy underpinning the framework.
2.0 Definition of a complaint
- A complaint is an expression of significant dissatisfaction, however made, by a person or persons with a legitimate interest in the college but not employed in the college about the conduct, actions or omissions of members of staff employed at the college or about the standard of teaching of members of the teaching staff.
- Complaints may be written or verbal. It is not always appropriate to ask for complaints to be put in writing as this might unnecessarily formalise the situation, resulting in the involved parties taking more defensive or entrenched positions thus making the conflict more difficult to resolve.
- When an anonymous complaint is made it will be left to Principals discretion to decide whether the gravity of the complaint warrants any further action.
- A concern is not a complaint. A concern is an expression of dissatisfaction which can be immediately resolved even where follow up is required; a general issue which the complainant does not view to be of significant concern and is satisfied with any explanation given; an issue which the complainant has raised, but does not wish to be pursued beyond the level raised.
3.0 Responsibility of the College
- While emphasis is placed upon the informal resolution of complaints, the Governing Body may be called upon to consider, resolve or adjudicate if complaints are referred to them by the Principal or by a complainant who is not satisfied with the result of the informal process
4.0 Values underpinning the Process
- Children learn best if there is an effective partnership between college staff and parents.
- All members of the college community are entitled to have their points of view heard.
- Unresolved complaints might result in unhealthy conflict.
- To enhance the college aims by giving due consideration to the complaints of parents/carers
- To ensure that all complaints are considered fully, fairly, carefully and confidentially
- To resolve complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant or to issue a clear decision that will enable the complainant, the Principal or the Governing Body to consider how, if at all, the matter should be taken further.
- It is important to bear in mind that every expression of concern is not a complaint. Discretion needs to be applied in determining whether action, over and above the normal day by day discussions on parental concerns, is needed. All senior members of staff are expected to exercise such discretion before referring matters to the Principal.
- Problems and expressions of concern be dealt with, as far as is possible, at the point of first contact. Continued dissatisfaction on the part of the parent/carer indicates a need for upward referral.
7.0 Informal stage
- Complaints will be dealt with promptly, thoroughly and in the first instance, on an informal basis
- Complaints should be dealt with at most appropriate level. This will be determined by the nature and seriousness of the complaint. Under no circumstances should teachers below the level of Vice Principal become involved in a discussion about the professional performance of a colleague. Where a member of staff feels that there should be upward referral of complaints the referral structure is given below. In the event of a complaint being made to a member of the Governing Body, the complainant should be advised to speak to the Principal or the Chair of Governors so that an attempt can be made to resolve the matter informally. Governors must not prejudice themselves by discussing the complaint as this would prevent them participating in a panel at a later stage.
Class Teacher/Form Teacher/Support Staff
Head of Year/Head of development
Senior line manager/ Vice Principal
- On occasions it will be appropriate to by-pass levels in the referral structure.
- When a complaint is made to the Principal, he may decide to deal with it or to refer it to an appropriate level in the structure. When the Principal has asked a colleague to deal with a complaint, feedback should be given to the Principal.
- On receipt of a complaint a copy of the complaint (if written), or a memo (if not written) recording the complaint will be passed to the employee as quickly as possible. A written response to the complaint will be made by the employee within 24 hours of receipt of the complaint by said employee.
- The complaint will be investigated and will include interviews with all participants involved, including any relevant witnesses. The investigator will produce a written report, containing recommendations for action.
- Where a teacher other than the Principal receives a complaint (as opposed to an expression of concern) and deals with it, the Principal should be notified to the complaint and how it was resolved.
- If a matter remains unresolved despite the involvement of the Principal, the Principal will ask the Chair of Governors to act as a facilitator who may seek the advice of appropriate officers of CCMS before initiating formal procedures.
- If all informal channels have been exhausted and there is still dissatisfaction, the complainant should be made aware of how formal procedures can be initiated.
8.0 Possible outcomes at the informal stage
- When informal procedures have been exhausted, complainants should be informed clearly by the Principal that:
a) the matter about which they complained has been dealt with appropriately by staff within the context of college policies and procedures
b) the complaint has been found by the Principal to be valid and that the Principal:
i) within his responsibility for overall internal management of the college will take appropriate action
ii) will refer the matter to the Governing Body for their consideration
9.0 Complaints made to the Governing Body
- In the event of a complaint being received directly by the Governing Body from a parent/carer or someone as described in 2.1, governors should have regard to the following:
- Any complaint to the Governing Body or a member thereof should be passed to the the Principal for investigation. The Principal, if he has not already done so, should follow the informal procedure outlined above to attempt to resolve the matter and report the outcome to the complainant and details of action taken to the Chair of Governors.
- If the Chair of Governors is satisfied that the informal procedures have been exhausted and the complaint is not resolved, he may, after further discussion with the Principal, decide to initiate the formal procedure.
- In the event of the complaint being about the Principal, the Chair of Governors will inform the Principal of the complaint and then attempt through an informal approach to resolve the matter.
- The complainant will be advised of the Chairs conclusions as is appropriate in the spirit of section 8 above.
10.0 The Formal Procedure
- If the informal attempts to settle the complaint have failed to satisfy the complainant(s) he should set out the complaint fully in writing to the Chair of the Governing Body. Where this is not possible because of literacy or second language considerations the complaint should be made verbally and where necessary, arrangements for interpretation should be made.
- Receipt of the complaint will be acknowledged in writing by the Chair of the Governing Body, the Vice Chair if the Chair is not available or the Clerk. A copy of the complaints procedure will be enclosed with the acknowledgement.
- The Governing Body will arrange for the complaint to be heard by a panel of three Governors who have not had involvement with the matter at an earlier stage. This standing panel should be set up at a properly convened meeting of the full Governing Body. The panel will, where possible, reflect a cross section of Governors, who have no direct interest or involvement in the case.
- The panel will be provided with copies of the complaint and all other relevant documentation.
- A least five working days notice of the hearing by the panel will be given to all concerned.
- All parties involved in the dispute may be accompanied, if desired, by a friend, representative or an interpreter and may call witnesses.
- The Principal (or the Chair of Governors if the complaint is against the Principal) will explain what has already been done and the outcome of any investigation. Then:-
i) The complainant will present his or her case and call any witnesses;
ii) The panel and the Principal will have an opportunity to question the complainant and witnesses
iii) The Principal will have the opportunity to respond to the complainant and to call witnesses if appropriate
iv) The panel and the complainant will have the opportunity to question the Principal and the witnesses.
v) Both the complainant and the Principal will summarise their positions;
vi) All but the members of the panel will withdraw while a panel decision in reached
- When the evidence has been fully considered and a decision made, the Panel will notify in writing the complainant and the Principal of the outcome, giving an explanation of the conclusion, the reason for it, and any action taken, including details of any request made of those complained against to take particular actions in respect of the complaint. This will be done as quickly as possible but within a maximum of five working days.
- The Governing Body should be informed at their next meeting that a complaint has been received and dealt with. Details should not be divulged to the full Governing Body as to do so would violate confidentiality.
- If the complainant is not satisfied by the outcome of the Governing Body Panel investigation they should be advised of their right to appeal. Otherwise appeals will not be considered.
12.0 Child Abuse
- If the complaint involves allegations of child abuse the above procedures will not apply. In these cases any recipient of a complaint will refer the matter directly to the Principal, as designated teacher, who will follow the agreed guidelines laid down by college policy and the appropriate agencies.