The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Complaints

How to Complain about a School

Check which complaints process you need to complain about a school or a childminder. This section explains the procedure for protesting about staff behaviour in schools.

SCHOOL COMPLAINTS: There are several different reasons why people express their dissatisfaction.

Methods for complaining about a school differ in Scotland, Wales, and in Northern Ireland. School complaints in England get dealt with by:

Ways to Complain about a School

There are three different ways to make a complaint about a school. The procedure to follow will depend most on whether:

Note: Any school can decide not to consider complaints about behaviour if it happens outside the usual hours of schooling or outside the school premises.

Different Types of School Complaints

Different agencies deal with different types of complaints. The 'Child Law Advice' is an organisation offering free legal advice about schooling and education problems.

Complain about a State School

Note: Any time you think a child is in danger you should contact your local council or your local police on 101. Always Call 999 if a child is in immediate danger.

State schools include maintained schools and academies or free schools. Follow these 3 steps to make a complaint about a state school. But, only move to the next step if your complaint does not get resolved.

  1. Complain in writing to the headteacher of the school.
  2. Complain in writing to the governing body of the education facility.
  3. Complain to the Department for Education (DfE).

School complaints procedures inform you how they deal with internal issues. Typical examples include bullying and bad behaviour. If you do not have a child at academies or free schools then you may not be able to make a direct complaint to them.

Complain about the Running of a Whole School

What if you have concerns about the way your child's state school is being run? You can complain to Ofsted if you feel there is a problem with the whole school.

You must first follow the complaints procedure of the school. Following that, Ofsted will decide whether the school needs inspecting.

As a rule, Ofsted will respond back to you within 30 working days. They will inform you whether they plan to investigate or not. But, they may determine that no investigation is necessary.

Complain about a Private School

Follow these steps to make a complaint about a private school. But, only move to the next step if your complaint does not get resolved.

  1. Follow the school's complaints procedure (every school in England must have one).
  2. Complain in writing to the headteacher of the school.
  3. Complain in writing to the school's governing body.

Note: You must have a child attending the private school to make a direct complaint to them.

Department for Education Complaint Procedure

The DfE does not 'specifically' investigate individual complaints about private schools. But it has the regulatory powers to deal with reports of a major failure by a private school.

They would investigate if it does not meet the standards set out by the Department for Education. They can, and will, arrange an emergency inspection of certain standards including:

You can complain to the Department for Education by filling in the school complaints form. They will ask the school inspectorates to take minor complaints into account when the school is next inspected.

Complaints about Special Educational Needs

You should make any complaints about Special Educational Needs (SEN) while your child is still registered at the school. This also applies to complaints made about school SEN support and their education, health, and care plan (EHC).

Follow these steps to make a complaint. But, only move to the next step if your complaint does not get resolved.

  1. Talk to the schools special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).
  2. Follow the complaints procedure of the school (every school in England must have one).
  3. Complain to your local authority if you are unhappy with how the school has dealt with your complaint.

You may need to aim your complaint to the Education Funding Agency instead of the local authority. Do so if both these apply:

Note: A different process applies if you disagree with a decision the local authority makes on an SEN statement or an EHC plan.

Disability Discrimination Complaints

What if a school discriminates against someone because of their disability? If this happens, you should follow the complaints process at the school.

What if this fails to solve the problem, or you prefer not to complain to the school first? In some cases you can complain to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) tribunal.

Complain about a Childminder

Childminders who are Registered with a Childminder Agency

You can often solve problems with childminders by talking to them in person and discussing your complaint. But, you can also complain to the childminder agency if you cannot resolve the issue.

Details of the agency get recorded on the childminder's certificate of registration. A childminder must show the certificate if you ask to see it. They are also required to display it at the premises where they work.

Childminders who are Registered with Ofsted

What if you are unable to solve the problem by talking to the childminder or their agency? In this situation you can make a complaint to Ofsted.

How to Complain about a School or Childminder in the United Kingdom