Compliments & Complaints Policy
General Policy Statement
At The Vale Federation we intend to provide a safe, secure, caring environment where every one is valued and respected equally. We aim to provide an inclusive education where children develop independent learning skills and are taught according to need whatever their age, gender, background, beliefs or abilities.
National legislation re disabilities, race relations and special education needs underpin this policy, which has also taken into consideration national, local and school policies on SEN, Equal Opportunities and Health and Safety.
Booker Park and Stocklake Park schools are delighted to receive compliments about its pupils and staff. It values compliments as indications of its success and realises that the pride which compliments engender is a powerful motivating force. To this end it strives to ensure that the achievements of pupils and staff are recognised and applauded.
Equally, we realises that it can learn from complaints. They can help us to put things right and provide a better service.
Complaints may come from an individual or group including staff.
They may be about
- A criticism of school policies and procedures
- The curriculum
- Allegations about behaviour of pupils and staff
It is our policy to
- Take complaints seriously – we understand that people complain when they believe something is wrong
- Give people time to explain their complaint
- Respond calmly and clarify what the issues are
- Explain how we will investigate complaints
- Report back to the person who made the complaint
Outcomes of Complaints
There are a number of different outcomes possible as a result of a complaint and an investigation
- No basis for complaint
- Apology to complainant for misunderstanding – the school may consider changing systems
- Apology to complainant for incident – staff rebuked
- Apology to complainant – staff member disciplined
- Apology to complainant – monitoring of staff performance, informal competence procedure
Due to the possibility of the last two outcomes it is important that there are clear procedures for handling complaints.
- Complaints should first be taken to the Head of School who will follow the LA guidelines
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the process they should be advised to refer to the Principal.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the process carried out they should refer to the Governing Body by writing to the Chair of Governors at the school address.
Our governing body has adopted this procedure to deal with concerns or complaints from members of the school community or general public.
Aims and Objectives
Our school aims to be fair, open and honest when dealing with any complaint and to resolve it through open dialogue and mutual understanding.
Careful consideration will be given to all concerns and complaints and we will deal with them as swiftly as possible. We will provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed.
In all cases we will put the interests of the child above all other issues.
Our procedure is underpinned by the following framework of principles: –
- encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
- be easily accessible and publicised
- be simple to use and understand
- be impartial
- be non-adversarial
- allow swift handling with established time-limits for action and keeping people informed of the progress
- ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary
- respect people’s desire for confidentiality, wherever possible (some information sharing may be necessary to carry out a thorough investigation)
- address all points of issue, providing an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary
- provide information to the school’s senior management team so that services can be improved.
Working together is at the heart of The Vale Federation. Our relationship with parents, carers and all the many professionals is central to supporting and helping our young people succeed. Everyone works to make this happen from supporting personal care to teaching a young person to communicate, from ensuring they get to school to sharing their day on their return – we all have a part to play. Together we work to provide the best that we possibly can to support the unique learning needs of all our young people.
Areas not covered by this procedure
This procedure does not apply to issues concerning the curriculum, collective worship, admissions, exclusion appeals, decisions about your child’s special educational needs or grievances by school staff. These are the subject of separate complaints procedures. In a maintained school such as ours, the Local Authority retains responsibility for:
- The National Curriculum
- Collective Workship in schools
- Provision of support services, eg SEN, education welfare, educational psychology
Complaints of this nature should be referred to the relevant officer at the local authority department.
In addition, Ofsted has the power to investigate certain (qualifying) complaints about maintained schools, including those from parents. A qualifying complaint is one that affects the whole school, not an individual. More information can be obtained from the school or Ofsted.
All other complaints are handled by the school according to the arrangements set out below.
Stage 1 – initial concerns
If you have any concerns about the school, or the education we are providing at any time, please discuss the matter with your child’s class teacher at the earliest opportunity. Please do not publicise any concerns you have on social networking sites, but speak to someone at the school as soon as possible.
The school considers any concerns very seriously and most problems can be resolved following discussion and a shared understanding of the issues. All members of staff work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school and is making good progress and they always want to know if there is a problem so they can help to resolve it.
Most concerns can be resolved at this level, however, if after speaking to your class teacher, you are still concerned, please discuss the matter with the Head of Department or Deputy Headteacher. If you have further concerns please direct this to the Principal or School Business Director.
Stage 2 – formal procedure
Most concerns are resolved at Stage 1, however if you remain dissatisfied and wish to take the matter further you will be asked to complete a complaint form (Annex 1).
The aim of the form is to ensure each party has a clear and common understanding of the complaint and includes a section on what actions might resolve the problem at this stage. It can be used by anyone making a complaint about the operation of the school which is not covered by an alternative procedure.
We are happy to provide the assistance of someone unconnected with the complaint, if you would like support in completing the form.
The form (see Appendix One) should be returned to the Principal, unless the complaint concerns the Principal or a governor, in which case it should be returned to the Chairman of the governing body at the school address, marking the envelope ‘FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION’.
You will receive an acknowledgement of the receipt of your complaint form within 5 working days.
An investigation will be carried out into the complaint and the way it has been handled by the school. This will include a review of any relevant documentation and information and seeking the views of relevant people, where necessary. The person undertaking the investigation will normally write to you with the outcome of this process within 15 working days of receiving the complaint.
If, at any time, it becomes apparent that the complaint is a disciplinary or capability issue, the matter will be dealt with by following the appropriate procedure rather than the complaints procedure. You will be notified if this is the case with your complaint, however, you are not entitled to know which procedure, or the final outcome, because of the right to confidentiality of the member of staff involved.
If, following the outcome of the investigation, you feel your concern has not been resolved, you may choose to refer your complaint to Stage 3 of the procedure. This must be done in writing to the school within 15 working days of the completion of Stage 2.
At this stage the complaint will be considered by a panel of 3 governors, who will meet to consider the complaint and make a final decision about it on behalf of the governing body.
The panel will consist of governors who have no detailed prior knowledge of the complaint, or connection with the complainant. The meeting will normally take place within 15 working days of your request.
You will have the opportunity to submit written evidence on the complaint prior to the meeting of the panel and also to attend, accompanied by a friend/partner if you wish, to put your case. The headteacher will be given the same opportunities. Appendix 2 outlines the process that will be followed at a panel hearing.
Outcome of the Panel Hearing
The panel will write to you with its conclusion within 5 working days of the meeting, and its decision is final.
If you are still not satisfied, you may wish to put your complaint to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, who can review whether the school has acted reasonably and followed the correct procedures. The address is Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1 3BT.
Note: If, for any reason, the adopted procedure cannot be followed, the governing body, in consultation with the Local Authority/Diocese, will put in place an alternative fair process.
Unreasonably persistent complainants and unreasonable complainant behaviour
Unfortunately, in a minority of cases, people pursue their complaints in a way which can either impede the investigation of their complaint or can have significant resource issues for the school.
These actions can occur either while the complaint is being investigated, or once the school has concluded the complaint investigation.
In such cases, the school will observe the Local Government Ombudsman’s Guidance Note on ‘unreasonably persistent complainants’ and ‘unreasonable complainant behaviour.’
Monitoring and Review
The governing body monitors the complaints procedure, in order to ensure that all complaints are handled properly. The headteacher logs all formal complaints received by the school and records how they were resolved. Governors examine this log on an annual basis and consider the need for any changes to the procedure.