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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Making a complaint to your child's school

If your child has a problem at school you should be able to sort it out through an informal discussion with your child's teacher. If you can't resolve a problem informally, the school should have a formal complaints procedure that you can follow.

Contacting your child's school

If you're worried about your child's learning or welfare at school, your child's class teacher or head of year is the best person to approach first. Teachers will usually be in the classroom during the day, but you can leave messages with the school office asking the teacher to get back to you.

If the teacher can't help, or you are not satisfied with their response, you can talk to the headteacher. You should be able to arrange a meeting or a telephone conversation with the headteacher through the school office. If this isn’t practical, you may wish to make a written complaint.

Complaining to the governing body

If your complaint is not resolved, the next stage is to approach the governing body of the school. All state-funded schools are required to have a procedure to deal with any complaints relating to the school, or to any facilities or services that the school provides for the local community.

If you want to complain to the governing body, ask the school for a copy of its complaints procedure. All complaints to the governing body must be in writing.

Complaining to your local authority

Some procedures may allow for an additional stage if the local authority (LA), Diocesan Body (for Church of England or Roman Catholic schools) or another external agency provides an independent appeal or review. LAs are also required to set up a procedure for dealing with certain types of complaints, for example complaints about the curriculum or collective worship in a school.

Complaining to the Secretary of State

If you think your school's governing body or your local authority is acting 'unreasonably' you can write to the Secretary of State for Education. Complaints to the Secretary of State are handled by the government’s Department for Education (DfE).

This should be a last resort, and you should highlight in your letter the steps you have already taken to resolve the problem. The DfE will not usually be able to investigate your complaint if your child no longer goes to the school where the incident took place.

Complaining to Ofsted

Ofsted has powers to investigate certain types of complaint from parents to help them to decide whether to inspect a school - though in most cases, you should raise any problems with the school first.

Types of complaint to which Ofsted can respond include:

  • the school is not providing a good enough education
  • the pupils are not achieving as much as they should, or their needs are not being met
  • the school is not well led and managed, or is not using its resources efficiently
  • the pupils’ personal development and well-being are being neglected

When considering a complaint, Ofsted can require the school or local authority to provide information, or require the school to arrange for a meeting of parents to seek their views.

Ofsted can also record parents’ concerns for consideration during the school’s next inspection.

Where a complaint is very serious, Ofsted can arrange an immediate inspection of the school.

For further information, call the Ofsted helpline on 08456 404 045 or follow the link below.

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