Schools and rules – raising a grievance at a school
22 August 2018 by Neemah Ahamed
Summer holidays are almost over and children will start or move schools and enter new grades or key stages. It is important to give them time to adjust. If after some time you feel a complaint is warranted against a school, there are different ways to lodge it depending on whether your child attends a state or private school or has special education needs.
Types of complaints
- Bullying by a pupil or a teacher;
- Policy changes; and
- Failure to provide support to children with special education needs.
Raising a complaint
Follow the school’s complaints procedure which can usually be found on its website. You may need to first raise your grievance in writing with the head teacher; state all facts on which it is based. Allow the school time to consider your concerns. If they are not addressed adequately then you may need to write to the school governors or academy trustees. After you have exhausted the internal procedure, you may be able to lodge your complaint with the Department for Education.
If you feel that the school is not run properly you can refer the matter to Ofsted. However, you must have already followed the school’s internal procedure. Ofsted should respond to your complaint within 30 working days to let you know whether it will carry out an investigation.
As in the case of state schools, follow the grievance procedure first. If your complaint is not dealt with then escalate it to the school’s governors. The Department for Education (DfE) cannot investigate individual complaints about private schools. However, it has certain powers as a regulator if the school is not meeting its standards on issues such as education, pupil welfare, health and safety, school premises, staff suitability and making information available to parents. DfE will consider any reports of a major failure to meet the standards. It can organise an emergency inspection to review pupil welfare and health and safety, and ensure serious shortcomings are dealt with. DfE can also ask the school inspectorates to take minor complaints into account when the school is next inspected. You can complain to the DfE by filling in the school complaints form.
Issues with SEN support
If your child has special needs and the school has not provided the level of support required by the SEN statement of education or health and care (EHC) plan, you should discuss this initially with the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). If the situation does not improve then follow the school’s complaint procedure. This may include arranging a meeting with the head teacher to discuss the issue. As a last resort, you can make a complaint to your local authority.
You can complain to the Education Funding Agency instead of the local authority if the school is an academy or free school and your complaint is not about an SEN statement or an EHC plan.
Outcome of a grievance
If you are thinking of raising a grievance it is important to consider what you would like the outcome to be. Depending on the circumstances you may want the school to offer one or a combination of the following:
- an apology or expression of regret
- a review of the decision
- a change of policy, procedure or practice
- a refund of parent payments
- the provision of student counselling or other support
We have successfully represented parents file grievances with schools. If you would like us to (1) advise you on the merits of your complaint, (2) review school policies and (3) prepare a letter of complaint or appeal, please contact Neemah Ahamed by calling 01206 700113 or email [email protected].
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