Complaints Policy


We believe that Vernon Terrace Primary School provides an excellent education for all our children, and that the headteacher and other staff work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents. However, the school is obliged to have procedures in place in case there are any complaints by parents. The following policy sets out the procedure that the school follows in such cases.

If any parent is unhappy with the education that their child is receiving, or has any concern relating to the school, we encourage that person to talk to the child’s class teacher immediately. 

We deal with all complaints in accordance with guidance and procedures set out by the Local Authority.


Aims and objectives

At Vernon Terrace Primary School we aim:

§  to work in partnership with parents and guardians;

§  to be fair, open and honest when dealing with any complaint;

§  to give careful consideration to all complaints and deal with them as swiftly as possible;

§  to resolve any complaint through dialogue and mutual understanding and, in all cases, we put the interests of the child above all other issues;

§  to provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed, and then resolved.

The complaints process

Stage 1 – Initial Approach

§  If a parent is concerned about anything to do with the education that we are providing at our school, they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter informally with their child’s class teacher. Most matters of concern can be dealt with in this way. All teachers work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school, and is making good progress; they always want to know if there is a problem, so that they can take action before the problem seriously affects the child’s progress.

§  If the class teacher first contacted cannot deal with the matter immediately, s/he should make a firm arrangement to deal with it at a future date or refer the matter to the headteacher or another appropriate member of staff. A record should be kept of the complainants name, date and outline of complaint.

§  The staff member/headteacher dealing with the complaint will make sure that the complainant is clear about what will happen next (if anything). This should be put in writing if it seems the best way of making the next steps or outcomes clear.

§  If the concern relates to the headteacher and the parent feels unable to raise it with the headteacher they should contact the chair of governors who is obliged to investigate it. The chair of governors will do all they can to resolve the issue through an informal dialogue with the school, but if a parent is unhappy with the outcome, s/he can make a formal complaint, as outlined below.

Stage 2 – Formal Complaint to the Headteacher or Chair of Governors

Only if an informal complaint fails to resolve the matter should a formal complaint be made to the Headteacher or the Chair of Governors. This complaint must be made in writing, stating the nature of the complaint, how the school has handled it so far and their desired outcome. The parent should send this written complaint to the Headteacher or Chair of Governors.

§  The  headteacher  or chair of governors must  acknowledge all written complaints within three days of receipt giving a brief explanation of the complaints procedure and a target date for providing a response. Ideally this should be within ten working days. If it is not possible to deal with the matter in this time, the complainant should be informed of when it is likely to be concluded.

§  The headteacher or chair of governors may offer an opportunity for the complainant to meet with her/him. The complainant should, if he/she wishes, be allowed to be accompanied by a friend or relative who can speak on his/her behalf. Interpreting facilities will be made if required.

§  If necessary the headteacher or chair of governors will interview any witnesses and take statements from those involved. If the complaint centres around a pupil, the pupil should also be interviewed, normally with a parent/carer present. In some circumstances this may not be possible or appropriate and a senior member of staff with whom the pupil feels comfortable should attend him/her. If a member of staff is complained against advice may be sought from Education Personnel.

§  The headteacher or chair of governors will keep written records of meetings, telephone conversations and other documentation.

§  Once all the relevant facts have been established, the headteacher or chair of governors should write to the complainant informing them of the outcome of their complaint or arrange a meeting to resolve the matter. This meeting should be followed up with a letter summarising the outcome of the meeting evidence.

§  The complainant will be advised in this letter that if they remain unhappy with the outcome, he/she may appeal to a panel of governors. The complainant should notify the chair of governors within ten working days of receiving the letter detailing the outcome of the complaint.


Stage 3 – Appeal to a panel of governors

The aim of the appeal to a panel of governors is to resolve the complaint and achieve a reconciliation between the school and the complainant. The governing body has a panel of three nominated governors for any hearing. The panel members will have no prior involvement with the complaint and the chair of governors will not be on the panel if he has been involved at an earlier stage. A suitable clerk to the panel is appointed. Upon receipt of a written request from the complainant for the complaint to proceed to Stage Three, the following procedure is followed:

§  The clerk will write acknowledging receipt of the written request, informing the complainant that it will be heard by a committee of the governing body within fifteen working days of receipt. 

§  The clerk will convene a meeting of the complaints committee which is convenient for the complainant and the school.

§  The clerk will ensure that the complainant, headteacher and any other witnesses are given at least five working days notice in writing of the date, time and place of the hearing. The complainant will be informed of their right to be accompanied by a friend or relative who can act as an advocate. The chair will ensure that interpretation facilities for the hearing are offered and made available if requested and the complainants right to submit further written evidence to the committee.

§  The clerk will invite the headteacher to attend the hearing and to submit a written report for the committee in response to the complaint. The headteacher may also invite the chair of governors or any other members of staff directly involved in matters raised by the complainant. Any involvement of other staff will be at the discretion of the chair of the committee.

§  All relevant documents should be received by all parties, (including the complainant) at least five working days before the meeting of the panel.

§  An Education Services or Diocesan Education officer may be invited to attend the meeting to advise the committee.

§  The panel will elect a chairperson who should ensure that proper minutes of the meeting are taken.

§  The chair of the panel should try to ensure that the proceedings are as sufficiently informal as possible and that the complainants and other participants feel at ease. 

§  At the conclusion of the representations and questions, the chair should explain that the panel will consider the issues and write to both the school and the complainant. 

§  All except for the governors’ panel and any advisers will then withdraw and the panel will consider the evidence. This should include: a judgement about the validity of the complaint; appropriate action to be taken by the school and/or the parent; and where appropriate, recommendations on changes to the school’s system or procedures to ensure similar problems do not arise in the future.

§  The school will ensure that a copy of all correspondence and notes is kept confidentially on file in the school while the pupil remains at the school. This will be separate from the pupil’s personal records.

§  The broad outcomes of the panel can be reported to the next full governing body or appropriate committee with the identity of all those taking part kept confidential. The governing body should monitor implementation of the recommendations.

The primary responsibility for resolving complaints rests with the governing body. (1998 Education Act, Part II, Chapter 3, Para. 39 (1)). Education Services role in school complaints is to provide advice to all parties.


Monitoring and review

The governors monitor the complaints procedure, in order to ensure that all complaints are handled properly. The headteacher logs all complaints received by the school and records how they were resolved. Governors examine this log on an annual basis.

Governors take into account any local or national decisions that affect the complaints process, and make any modifications necessary to this policy. This policy is made available to all parents, so that they can be properly informed about the complaints process.




Annex A - Model Procedure for the Conduct of a Stage 3 Governors Panel Hearing

Annex B – Dealing with Complaints about Racism in Schools


Signed:………………………………………………..       Date:……………………………….

Chair of Governors



Model Procedure for the Conduct of a Stage 3 Governors Panel Hearing


1.      The chair of the committee should invite all parties (except any witnesses) into the room, introduce them and explain the role of each person.


2.      The chair should explain to all present that the purpose of the hearing is to review the complaint and try to resolve it and achieve a reconciliation between the school and the complainant. However, it may only be possible to establish the facts of a situation and make recommendations about future action.


3.     The chair should then ascertain whether the proposed procedure is 

       acceptable. If so, the meeting will proceed along the following lines:


     i.     The complainant describes his/her complaint and may call witnesses.


    ii.     The headteacher may seek clarification from the complainant and any witnesses.


   iii.     The governors’ panel or its advisers may seek clarification from the complainant and any witnesses.


   iv.     The headteacher will respond to the complaint and may call witnesses.


    v.     The complainant may seek clarification from the headteacher and any witnesses.


   vi.     The governors’ panel (including any Advisers) may seek clarification from the headteacher and any witnesses.


 vii.     The headteacher will be given the opportunity to sum up.


viii.     The complainant will be given the opportunity to sum up.


   ix.     Both parties will leave the room to allow the panel to deliberate but any advisers may remain to offer technical and procedural advice.


4.    The panel should make a decision or judgement on:-

the validity of the complaint; appropriate action to be taken by the school and/or parent and where appropriate, recommendations on changes to the school’s systems or procedures to ensure similar problems do not arise in the future.


5.    The decision or judgement will be confirmed in writing within 5 working days.


NB  If there is more than one complainant this procedure should be followed for each one in turn, unless the complainants agree to the complaint being heard with all present in one sitting.


Dealing with Complaints about Racism in Schools


1.    Racist Behaviour to a Child or Student

The procedures to be followed are contained in the Schools  Service’s guidance “Notification of Racist Incidents”


2.   Racist Incident Alleged Against School Staff


    i.     The report/complaint should be made to the head teacher, or if the head teacher is the subject of the report/complaint, to the Chair of Governors;


   ii.     As racism is a disciplinary offence, the normal disciplinary procedures are followed.


3.    Institutional Racism

Parents who perceive that racist practice or policies are operated by the school should pursue these through the General Complaints Procedure