Responsibilities

Under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, the governing body of all maintained schools and nursery schools in England are required to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school and to any community facilities or services the school provides. The law also requires the complaint procedure to be publicised.

The governing body should note the following recommendations:

General parental complaints

The day-to-day running of the school is the responsibility of the headteacher, the governing body and the LA. Initially, it is recommended parents put their concerns in writing to the headteacher of the school and if this fails to resolve the issue, concerns should then be raised with the chair of governors. A complaint may be made to the Secretary of State for Education if a person believes a governing body or LA is acting unreasonably or is failing to carry out its statutory duties properly. The complaint should set out fully the concerns and reasons why the complaint is being submitted, enclosing all previous correspondence relevant to the complaint. The complaint should be mailed to the Department.

Roles and actions

Department guidance on developing and applying complaints policies and procedures strongly encourages schools and governing bodies to differentiate between concerns and complaints and in both cases, to keep procedures for dealing with them as informal as possible.

Guidance

The Department has produced extensive guidance, including example policies and procedures. Brief guidance on general complaints and curriculum complaints can be found in Chapters 3 and 6 respectively of the Guide to the law for school governors

The law

Consult the Education Act 2002 for further details.

  • Procedures relating to general complaints do not replace the LA's procedures relating to curriculum and collective worship complaints.
  • Certain forms of complaint, e.g. staff grievance or disciplinary procedures, also fall outside the scope of these general complaints procedures.
  • Third parties that use school premises for any purpose should be encouraged to adopt their own complaints procedures.
  • Schools and governors are encouraged to involve their LA and teachers' associations in drawing up these procedures:
    • establish a member of staff who will act as complaints coordinator and who will take the initial responsibility for handling complaints
    • take a two-stage (small schools) or three-stage (larger schools) formal procedure to reviewing and resolving complaints
    • have formal, published procedures with time limits
    • form a governors committee to deal with complaints that can not be resolved by the complaints coordinator or the headteacher
    • record complaints so the overall level, nature and outcome of complaints can be reviewed and any necessary steps taken to improve policies and procedures.