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Complain about an Apprenticeship Provider

The informal approach often avoids the need to complain about an apprenticeship provider (e.g. adult education institution, FE college).

Even so, there is a set process for apprentices to make a formal complaint. In some cases, it might also involve the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Making a direct complaint to the organisation can help you solve a dispute or disagreement ‘informally’ and fairly quickly.

So, be sure to tell your tutor, the human resources team (hr), or the line manager in the first instance.

If the informal method fails to solve the issue, the next step would be to make a formal complaint.

How to Make a Formal Complaint

You would need to follow the official complaints procedure as published by the actual organisation that you are apprenticed to. You can get a copy from the hr team (or the people manager).

The information contained in the organisation’s complaints procedure will tell you:

  • The required details for making a complaint about a further education college or apprenticeship (e.g. a completed form or some other written evidence).
  • Where you would need to send a formal complaint.
  • How the organisation involved is going to treat the complaint (e.g. who will see it and what the possible outcomes will be).
  • When to expect a decision about the complaint (e.g. within 30 days).

Important: You would need to follow a different procedure to appeal an exam result or to complain about a school or childminder.

How to Challenge the Outcome

As a rule, the organisation involved will handle any complaint made about them as an apprenticeship provider with propriety and with fairness.

But, you can also escalate a complaint to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) if you are unsatisfied about the way any of these types of adult education institutions handled your dispute:

  • Further education college.
  • Learning organisation offering apprenticeship schemes or other qualifications.
  • Sixth form college that is not an academy.
  • Learning organisation offering courses for people under the age of 25 with a learning disability.

Note: The ESFA does not deal with complaints that relate to issues about employment (e.g. an apprenticeship contract). They also use a different procedure when handling complaints about academies.

It is important to contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) within twelve (12) months of the date when the issue happened. You can send a complaint to the ESFA by email or by post.

ESFA Complaints Team
Email: [email protected]

Complaints Team
Education and Skills Funding Agency
Cheylesmore House
Quinton Road

Following that, you would then get a reply from the Education and Skills Funding Agency letting you know what is going to happen next.

Challenging the ESFA Response

There are further options if you feel unhappy with the way that the ESFA dealt with your complaint. You should follow the Department for Education complaints procedure to challenge a response given by the ESFA.

Make a Complaint about an Apprenticeship or FE College in United Kingdom