Title of Policy: Complaints Policy/Procedure (LBR Model) Stage one
Person responsible: J Hamill
Date for review: 2017
At Oaks Park High School our objective is to provide a secure, calm and welcoming environment for students and staff. We recognise that these aspirations can only be achieved by the wholehearted commitment and support of the whole school community. Occasionally, situations will occur which prevent the fulfilment of those aims and give cause for complaint.
In order to bring any such occurrences to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion, Oaks Park has adopted a Complaints Procedure based on the local authority’s advice and as used in many other schools in Redbridge.
It is important that complaints are raised at the earliest possible opportunity to enable the matter to be dealt with speedily and effectively. An early informal approach is often the best means of resolution of minor problems. The Department for Education expects complaints to be made at the earliest opportunity and consider 3 months to be an acceptable timeframe to lodge a complaint.
This document sets out a summary of stage one and stage two of the procedure and how to move forward with Stage One: Local resolution of the problem- The Informal stage. For more detailed information on Stage Two: The Formal stage please click here:
Dealing with a Complaint
Stage One: Local resolution of the problem – The Informal Stage
In the vast majority of cases a problem can and should be resolved by contacting the class teacher, subject teacher or member of staff directly involved with the problem. The initial communication with the member of staff may be by letter, telephone conversation or in person by prior appointment. Should this action not lead to a satisfactory resolution, the complaint should be dealt with through the formal stages of this procedure.
Stage Two: The Formal Stage
a. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the member of staff at Stage 1 or if the complaint is of a serious nature, the complainant should be advised to put their complaint in writing to the Headteacher (Stage Two). When writing to the Headteacher, the complainant should include details that might assist in the investigation, such as names of witnesses, dates and times of events and copies of relevant documents.
b. The Headteacher will be responsible for carrying out an investigation or alternatively appoint another senior member of staff to carry out the investigation. The senior member of staff (investigator) will report their findings to the Headteacher, who will then reach a conclusion based on the investigation. The person appointed as the investigator should keep notes of any interviews held as part of the investigation. To clarify the specific details of the complaint, the nature of the complaint and any background to the complaint, the investigator may feel it necessary to meet with the complainant first. In these circumstances it is good practice to supply interviewees with the notes and ask them to sign the notes for accuracy.
c. In the meantime the Headteacher should write to the complainant within 5 school days of receipt of their letter. The letter should provide information on who is conducting the investigation and advise that the Headteacher will contact the complainant within a further 20 school days, setting out the actions taken to investigate the complaint and their findings. However, the investigation period for a more complex complaint may take longer than 20 days and the complainant should be advised if this is the case.
d. Before the investigator interviews a member/members of staff, they must be informed that they may be accompanied by a colleague or representative from a recognised union or professional association.
e. Once satisfied that the investigation has been concluded and a decision on the complaint has been reached, the Headteacher will notify the complainant in writing of the conclusion and decision made. The complainant will be informed of any action that will be taken as a result of the complaint, except where this would be a breach confidentiality – eg. taking any formal action against individual members of staff, which would remain confidential. The letter should generally be issued no later than 20 school days from the date of the first letter to the complainant, as set out in paragraph (c) above. The Headteacher may feel it appropriate to meet with the complainant to communicate the findings in person; however in this event, the decision should also be confirmed in writing.
f. The outcome of the investigation would usually be one of the following, but not limited to:
- The evidence indicates that the complaint was substantiated and therefore upheld;
- The complaint was substantiated in part and only the part identified is upheld;
- There is insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion, therefore the complaint is inconclusive and not proven;
- The complaint is not substantiated by the evidence and therefore not upheld.
g. In the outcome letter, the complainant will also be informed that if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation they may request that the Governors Complaints Review Panel reviews the process followed by the Headteacher in handling the complaint.
h. Should the complainant wish to pursue the matter to Stage 3, they must be advised in writing exactly who to contact and the timescale by which they should make this contact. (Stage 3 is set out below).
i. This request must be made in writing to the Clerk to the Governing Body within 10 school days of receiving the outcome from the Headteacher. The request must include a statement specifying the reasons for the review and any perceived failures arising from the outcome of the investigation.
Where the complaint is regarding the actions of the Headteacher:
Stage One: Local resolution of the problem – The Informal Stage:
In the vast majority of cases a problem can and should be resolved by speaking to the Headteacher directly in an effort to resolve the problem or concern. The initial communication with the Headteacher may be by letter, telephone conversation, in person or by appointment. Where this action does not lead to the problem being resolved then the complaint should be dealt with through the formal stage of this procedure.