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:
- The Department for Education
- The Education Funding Agency
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:
- Your child attends a state school.
- They attend a private school.
- The child has Special Educational Needs (SEN).
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
- Child Protection: Contact your local council.
- Criminal Behaviour: Contact the police.
- Data Protection – Seek advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- Discrimination: Call the Equality Advisory and Support Service.
- Employment: Refer the matter to an employment tribunal.
- Exam Malpractice or Maladministration: Contact Ofqual and the awarding body.
- Quality of Education or Leadership: Contact Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).
Complain about a State School
Note: Any time you think a child is in dangeryou 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.
- Complain in writing to the headteacher of the school.
- Complain in writing to the governing body of the education facility.
- 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.
- Follow the school’s complaints procedure (every school in England must have one).
- Complain in writing to the headteacher of the school.
- 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:
- Education, pupil welfare, and the school health and safety policy.
- School premises and staff suitability.
- Making information available to parents.
- Spiritual, moral, social or cultural development of students.
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.
- Talk to the schools special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).
- Follow the complaints procedure of the school (every school in England must have one).
- 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:
- The type of school is an academy or free school.
- The complaint is not about an SEN statement or an EHC plan.
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.