Complaints Policy

 

 

 

 

Compliments and Complaints Procedure

 

 

Directors Approval – July 2020

 

Review – September 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust Prayer

 

We thank you, God of Love, for the gift of children,

bless the work of our Trust, that in all we do

young people may grow in wisdom and stature,

and so come

to know you,

to love you

and to serve you

as Jesus did.

We make our prayer in his name who is God

with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

1.     Our Mission. 4

2.     Introduction. 4

3.     Compliments and Complaints 4

4.     The Process 8

5.     Appendix. 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Our Mission

To create a Trust in which our schools will thrive under the leadership of headteachers, supported and challenged by Local Governing Bodies and accountable to the Board of Directors.

We will achieve this by living our values of:

  • Collaboration
  • Valuing the Local
  • Valuing Difference
  • Inclusion

We want to ensure that all our children grow in wisdom and stature and reach their full potential, within the explicit Christian culture of our schools.

 

  1. Introduction


We believe that we are fulfilling this command when we enable children of all faiths and none to flourish in our schools. In order for this to happen, the Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust (LDST) works in collaboration with all stakeholders, valuing the differences within each local context, so that children can grow and achieve excellence.  LDST believes teachers, parents, carers, pupils and all members of each school’s community can make a significant contribution to the education of young people, and therefore should be listened to if there are things that could be improved. We aim to work with parents and carers in a spirit of hope and compassion, to overcome any complaints and issues and this Policy sets out how we will achieve this together.

 

  1. Compliments and Complaints

 

 

Availability of the Compliments and Complaints Procedure

The Compliments and Complaints Procedure must be published on both the school and the Trust website.

 

Compliments

It is always good to receive positive feedback, this can be given verbally or in writing to the School Office. It is encouraging to hear when situations go well and are appreciated, and your comments will always be shared with staff and pupils where appropriate. There is also an opportunity to give compliments through regular school questionnaires or Parent View.

 

 

 

 

 

 Who can make a complaint?

This complaints procedure is not limited to parents or carers of children that are registered at any of our schools. Any person, including members of the public, may make a complaint to the *Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust about any provision of facilities or services that we provide. Unless complaints are dealt with under separate statutory procedures (such as appeals relating to exclusions or admissions), we will use this complaints procedure.

*The Local Governing Body (LGB) has delegated responsibility on behalf of the Board of Directors for our school and for ensuring that all pupils receive an appropriate and high standard of education. The Headteacher is responsible for making decisions on a daily basis about the school’s internal management and organisation. Therefore any complaints should be made to the school in most circumstances.

The difference between a concern and a complaint

A concern may be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’.

A complaint may be defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.

It is in everyone’s interest that concerns and complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to use the formal stages of the complaints procedure. The Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust takes concerns seriously and will make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

If you have difficulty discussing a concern with a particular member of staff, we will respect your views. In these cases, the headteacher will refer you to another staff member. Similarly, if the member of staff directly involved feels unable to deal with a concern, the Headteacher will refer you to another staff member. The member of staff may be more senior but does not have to be. The ability to consider the concern objectively and impartially is more important.

We understand however, that there are occasions when people would like to raise their concerns formally. In this case, the Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust will attempt to resolve the issue internally, through the stages outlined within this complaints procedure. 

How to raise a concern or make a complaint

A concern or complaint can be made in person, in writing or by telephone. They may also be made by a third party acting on behalf of a complainant, as long as they have appropriate consent to do so.

Complaints against school staff (except the headteacher) should be made in the first instance, to Mrs Richardson via the School Office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

Complaints that involve or are about the headteacher should be addressed to Mrs Diane Pennington/Mr Keith Grattan via the School Office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.
*please note that the Chair of Governors will inform the CEO of any complaint involving or about the headteacher

Complaints about any individual governor should be addressed to Mrs Diane Pennington/Mr Keith Grattan,M  via the School Office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

Complaints about the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chair of the Local Governing Body or a Director of the Trust, should be addressed to Chair of the Board of Directors via the trust office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

For ease of use, a template complaint form is included at the end of this policy. If you require help in completing the form, please contact the School Office. You can also ask a third-party organisation for example like the Citizens Advice to help you.      

In accordance with equality law, we will consider making reasonable adjustments if required, to enable complainants to access and complete this complaints procedure. For instance, providing information in alternative formats, assisting complainants in raising a formal complaint or holding meetings in accessible locations.

Anonymous complaints

We will not normally investigate anonymous complaints. However, the headteacher or Chair of Governors, if appropriate, will determine whether the complaint warrants an investigation.

Time scales

You must raise the complaint within three months of the incident or, where a series of associated incidents have occurred, within three months of the last of these incidents. We will consider complaints made outside of this time frame if exceptional circumstances apply.

Complaints received outside of term time

We will consider complaints made outside of term time to have been received on the first school day after the holiday period.

Scope of this complaints procedure

This procedure covers all complaints about any provision of community facilities or services by The Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust other than complaints that are dealt with under other statutory procedures, including those listed below.

Exceptions

Who to contact

  • Admissions to schools
  • Statutory Assessments of Special Needs

Concerns about admissions or Statutory Assessments of Special Needs should be handled through a separate process – either through the appeals process or via the local authority.

  • Matters likely to require a Child Protection Investigation

Complaints about child protection matters are handled under our child protection and safeguarding policy and in accordance with relevant statutory guidance.

If you have serious concerns, you may wish to contact the local authority designated officer (LADO) who has local responsibility for safeguarding or the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

LADO: Information found at https://sthelenssafeguarding.org.uk/scp/scp/workforce/allegations-against-professionals-lado

MASH Telephone: 01744 676 600

 

  • Exclusion of children from school*

Further information about raising concerns about exclusion can be found at: www.gov.uk/school-discipline-exclusions/exclusions.

*complaints about the application of the behaviour policy can be made through the school’s complaints procedure. Link to policies on Rainford CE Primary School website: https://www.rainfordcofe-pri.st-helens.sch.uk/page/policies/12811

  • Whistleblowing

We have an internal whistleblowing procedure for all our employees, including temporary staff and contractors.

The Secretary of State for Education is the prescribed person for matters relating to education for whistle-blowers in education who do not want to raise matters direct with their employer. Referrals can be made at: www.education.gov.uk/contactus.

Volunteer staff who have concerns about our school should complain through the school’s complaints procedure. You may also be able to complain direct to the LA or the Department for Education (see link above), depending on the substance of your complaint.

  • Staff grievances

Complaints from staff will be dealt with under the school’s internal grievance procedures.

  • Staff conduct

Complaints about staff will be dealt with under the school’s internal disciplinary procedures, if appropriate.

Complainants will not be informed of any disciplinary action taken against a staff member as a result of a complaint. However, the complainant will be notified that the matter is being addressed.

 

If other bodies are investigating aspects of the complaint, for example the police, local authority (LA) safeguarding teams or Tribunals, this may impact on our ability to adhere to the timescales within this procedure or result in the procedure being suspended until those public bodies have completed their investigations. If this happens, we will inform you of a proposed new timescale.

If a complainant commences legal action against Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust in relation to their complaint, we will consider whether to suspend the complaints procedure until those legal proceedings have concluded.

Resolving complaints

At each stage in the procedure, the Trust wants to resolve the complaint. If appropriate, we will acknowledge that the complaint is upheld in whole or in part. In addition, we may offer one or more of the following:

  • an explanation
  • an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better
  • an assurance that we will try to ensure the event complained of will not recur
  • an explanation of the steps that have been or will be taken to help ensure that it will not happen again and an indication of the timescales within which any changes will be made
  • an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint
  • an apology.

Withdrawal of a complaint

If a complainant wants to withdraw their complaint, we will ask them to confirm this in writing.

 

 

  1. The Process

 Stage 1 – Informal complaints

It is to be hoped that most concerns can be expressed and resolved on an informal basis.

Concerns should be raised with either the class teacher, year head / subject head or headteacher. Complainants should not approach individual governors to raise concerns or complaints. They have no power to act on an individual basis and it may also prevent them from considering complaints at Stage 3 of the procedure.

At the conclusion of their investigation, the appropriate person investigating the complaint will provide an informal written response within ten school days of the date of receipt of the complaint.

If the issue remains unresolved, the next step is to make a formal complaint. 

Stage 2 – Formal complaints

Formal complaints must be made to the headteacher (unless they are about the headteacher), via the School Office. This may be done in person or in writing (preferably on the Complaint Form)-  to be marked as Private and Confidential.

The headteacher will record the date the complaint is received and will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within three school days.

Within this response, the headteacher will seek to clarify the nature of the complaint, ask what remains unresolved and what outcome the complainant would like to see. The headteacher can consider whether a face to face meeting is the most appropriate way of doing this. 

Note: The headteacher may delegate the investigation to another member of the school’s senior leadership team but not the decision to be taken.

During the investigation, the headteacher (or investigator) will:

  • if necessary, interview those involved in the matter and/or those complained of, allowing them to be accompanied if they wish
  • keep a written record of any meetings/interviews in relation to their investigation.

At the conclusion of their investigation, the headteacher will provide a formal written response within ten school days of the date of receipt of the complaint.

If the headteacher is unable to meet this deadline, they will provide the complainant with an update and revised response within seven working days.

The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions that will be taken to resolve the complaint.

The headteacher will advise the complainant of how to escalate their complaint should they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 2.

If the complaint is about the headteacher or a member of the Local Governing Body, the Chair of Governors will complete all the actions at Stage 2. These complaints should be made to the Clerk, via the School Office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

 

Complaints about the CEO, Chair of the Local Governing Body or member(s) of the Board of Directors must be made to the Chair of Directors, via the Clerk, at the registered address of the Trust. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

If the complaint is:

  • jointly about the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors or
  • the entire or majority of the Board of Directors

Directors will appoint an independent investigator to consider the complaint. At the end of their investigation, the independent investigator will provide a formal written response to the Board of Directors.

 

Stage 3 – Panel Hearing

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage 2 and wishes to take the matter further, they can escalate the complaint to Stage 3 – a panel hearing consisting of at least three people who were not directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint with one panel member who is independent of the management and running of the school. This is the final stage of the complaints procedure.

A request to escalate to Stage 3 must be made to the Clerk, via the School Office, within ten school days of receipt of the Stage 2 response, and marked Private and Confidential. Requests received outside of this time frame will only be considered if exceptional circumstances apply. The Clerk will record the date the complaint is received and acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within five school days.

The Clerk will write to the complainant to inform them of the date of the meeting. They will aim to convene a meeting within twenty school days of receipt of the Stage 3 request. If this is not possible, the Clerk will provide an anticipated date and keep the complainant informed. If the complainant rejects the offer of three proposed dates, without good reason, the Clerk will decide when to hold the meeting. It will then proceed in the complainant’s absence on the basis of written submissions from both parties.

If the complaint is:

  • jointly about the Chair and Vice Chair or
  • the entire governing body or
  • the majority of the governing body

Stage 3 will be heard by the Board of Directors and an independent panel member.

A complainant may bring someone along to the panel meeting to provide support. This can be a relative or friend. Generally, we do not encourage either party to bring legal representatives to the committee meeting. However, there may be occasions when legal representation is appropriate. For instance, if a school employee is called as a witness in a complaint meeting, they may wish to be supported by union and/or legal representation.

Note: Complaints about staff conduct will not generally be handled under this complaints procedure. Complainants will be advised that any staff conduct complaints will be considered under (Human Resources) staff disciplinary procedures, if appropriate, but outcomes will not be shared with them.

Representatives from the media are not permitted to attend.

At least ten school days before the meeting, the Clerk will:

  • confirm and notify the complainant of the date, time and venue of the meeting, ensuring that, the dates are convenient to all parties and that the venue and proceedings are accessible
  • request copies of any further written material to be submitted to the committee at least seven school days before the meeting.

Any written material will be securely circulated to all parties at least five school days before the date of the meeting. The committee will not normally accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without the informed consent of all parties being recorded.

The committee will also not review any new complaints at this stage or consider evidence unrelated to the initial complaint to be included. New complaints must be dealt with from Stage 1 of the procedure.

The meeting will be held in private. Electronic recordings of meetings or conversations are not normally permitted unless a complainant’s own disability or special needs require it. Prior knowledge and consent of all parties attending must be sought before meetings or conversations take place. Consent will be recorded in any minutes taken.

The committee will consider the complaint and all the evidence presented. The committee can:

  • uphold the complaint in whole or in part
  • dismiss the complaint in whole or in part.

If the complaint is upheld in whole or in part, the committee will:

  • decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
  • where appropriate, recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to prevent similar issues in the future.

The Chair of the Committee will provide the complainant and Rainford CE Primary School with a full explanation of their decision and the reason(s) for it, in writing, within ten school days.

The letter to the complainant will include details of how to contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) if they are dissatisfied with the way their complaint has been handled by Rainford CE Primary School.

The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions Rainford CE Primary School will take to resolve the complaint. 

The panel will ensure that those findings and recommendations are sent securely by electronic mail or otherwise given to the complainant and, where relevant, the person complained about. Furthermore, they will be available for inspection on the school premises by the proprietor and the headteacher.

A written record will be kept of all complaints, and of whether they are resolved at the preliminary stage or proceed to a panel hearing.

 

Complaints about the Trust, CEO or Director

If a complainant wishes to complain directly about the Trust, then the complaint should be sent to the CEO to be investigated. The CEO will write to the complainant acknowledging the complaint within five working days of the date that the written request was received. The acknowledgement will confirm that the complaint will now be investigated under Stage 2 of this Complaints Policy and will confirm the date for providing a response to the complainant.

Following the investigation, the CEO will write to the complainant confirming the outcome within ten working days of the date that the letter was received. If this time limit cannot be met, the CEO will write to the Complainant within seven working days of the date that the letter was received, explaining the reason for the delay and providing a revised date.

If the complaint concerns the CEO or a Director, the complaint should be investigated by the Chair of the Board of Directors. If a formal complaint form is received about the Chair, the complaint will be referred to the Vice Chair for investigation.

NB. Where the Chair of the Board of Directors has investigated the complaint, they will write the letter of outcome to the Complainant and provide a copy to the CEO.

If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the previous stage, the complainant should write to the Clerk to the Board of Directors asking for the complaint to be heard before a Complaint Panel, within ten working days - to be marked Private and Confidential. The Clerk will record the date the complaint is received and acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within five working days. Requests received outside of this time frame will only be considered if exceptional circumstances apply.

The Clerk will write to the complainant to inform them of the date of the meeting. They will aim to convene a meeting within twenty working days of receipt of the Stage 2 request. If this is not possible, the Clerk will provide an anticipated date and keep the complainant informed. If the complainant rejects the offer of three proposed dates, without good reason, the Clerk will decide when to hold the meeting. It will then proceed in the complainant’s absence on the basis of written submissions from both parties.

If the complaint is:

  • jointly about the Chair and Vice Chair or
  • the entire Board of Directors or
  • the majority of the Board of Director

Stage 3 will be heard by a completely independent Complaints Panel. The Complaints Panel will consist of three members. None of the three members of the Complaints Panel will have been involved in the incidents or events which led to the complaint, or have been involved in dealing with the complaint in the previous stages, or have any detailed prior knowledge of the complaint.

One of the Complaints Panel members will be independent of the management and running of the Trust. This means that the independent Complaints Panel member will not be a Director or an employee of the Trust.

A complainant may bring someone along to the panel meeting to provide support. This can be a relative or friend. Generally, we do not encourage either party to bring legal representatives to the committee meeting. However, there may be occasions when legal representation is appropriate. For instance, if a trust employee is called as a witness in a complaint meeting, they may wish to be supported by union and/or legal representation.

Note: Complaints about staff conduct will not generally be handled under this complaints procedure. Complainants will be advised that any staff conduct complaints will be considered under staff disciplinary procedures, if appropriate, but outcomes will not be shared with them.

Representatives from the media are not permitted to attend.

At least twelve working days before the meeting, the Clerk will:

  • confirm and notify the complainant of the date, time and venue of the meeting, ensuring that, the dates are convenient to all parties and that the venue and proceedings are accessible
  • request copies of any further written material to be submitted to the committee at least seven school days before the meeting.

Any written material will be securely circulated to all parties at least five school days before the date of the meeting. The committee will not normally accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without the informed consent of all parties being recorded.

The committee will also not review any new complaints at this stage or consider evidence unrelated to the initial complaint to be included. New complaints must be dealt with from Stage 1 of the procedure.

The meeting will be held in private. Electronic recordings of meetings or conversations are not normally permitted unless a complainant’s own disability or special needs require it. Prior knowledge and consent of all parties attending must be sought before meetings or conversations take place. Consent will be recorded in any minutes taken.

The committee will consider the complaint and all the evidence presented. The committee can:

  • uphold the complaint in whole or in part
  • dismiss the complaint in whole or in part.

If the complaint is upheld in whole or in part, the committee will:

  • decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
  • where appropriate, recommend changes to the Trust’s systems or procedures to prevent similar issues in the future.

The Chair of the Committee will provide the complainant and LDST with a full explanation of their decision and the reason(s) for it, in writing, within ten working days. The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions LDST will take to resolve the complaint.  The panel will ensure that those findings and recommendations are sent securely by electronic mail or otherwise given to the complainant and, where relevant, the person complained about. The letter to the complainant will include details of how to contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) if they are dissatisfied with the way their complaint has been handled by LDST.

A written record will be kept of all complaints, and of whether they are resolved at the preliminary stage or proceed to a panel hearing.

 

Stage 3 Agenda for the Hearing

The Chair of the panel will have been nominated in advance of the meeting.

Both parties are invited to join the meeting, unless a decision has been made to invite parties to present their information to them separately.

1. Introductions

2. The complainant is invited to present their case and any supporting documents to the panel. If appropriate, the complainant's witnesses will be heard at this point.

3. The panel will be entitled to question the complainant and any witnesses.

4. The Investigator will present the report on the investigation to the Committee, together with any supporting documents, including details of any actions taken to resolve the complaint. If appropriate, witnesses will be heard at this point.

5. The panel will be entitled to question the Investigator and any witnesses.

6. The complainant is then invited to sum up their complaint.

7. The Chair is then invited to sum up the Trust's/school’s response to the complaint.

8. The Chair explains the arrangements for notifying both parties of the outcome of the meeting.

9. Both parties then leave the meeting to allow the panel to reach a decision.

 

Note:

  • Other Committee members may ask questions at any point.
  • Any reasonable request for an adjournment should be allowed at the discretion of the Chair.

 

Next Steps

If the complainant believes the school / trust did not handle their complaint in accordance with the published complaints procedure or they acted unlawfully or unreasonably in the exercise of their duties under education law, they can contact the ESFA after they have completed Stage 3. 

The ESFA will not normally reinvestigate the substance of complaints or overturn any decisions made by LDST. They will consider whether LDST has adhered to education legislation and any statutory policies connected with the complaint and whether they have followed Part 7 of the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014. The complainant can refer their complaint to the ESFA online at: www.education.gov.uk/contactus, by telephone on: 0370 000 2288 or by writing to:

School Complaints and Customer Insight Unit

Education and Skills Funding Agency
Cheylesmore House

5 Quinton Road

Coventry

CV1 2WT

Appendix 1: Complaint Form – PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

 

Please complete and return to Headteacher, via the School Office who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken.

Your name:

Pupil’s name (if relevant):

 

Your relationship to the pupil (if relevant):

 

Address:

Postcode:

Day time telephone number:

Evening telephone number:

Email address:

 

Please give details of your complaint, including whether you have spoken to anybody at the school about it.

 

What actions do you feel might resolve the problem at this stage?

 

Are you attaching any paperwork? If so, please give details.

 

Signature:

 

Date:

Official use

Date acknowledgement sent:

 

By who:

Complaint referred to:

 

Action taken:

Date:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name of School

 

Name of Complainant

 

Date

 

Time

 

Location

 

Appendix 2 – Stage 3 Agenda

 

 

Name of Participant

Position

Purpose

 

 

Panel member 1 (Chair)

 

 

Panel member 2

 

 

Panel member 3

 

 

Complainant

 

 

Complainants Companion

 

 

School Representative

 

Item Number

Item

Responsible

1

Introduction and meeting procedure

Chair

2

Summary of complaint

Complainant

3

Questions to the Complainant

Panel

4

Representations from the Investigator

Investigator

5

Questions to the Investigator

Panel

6

Summing up from the Complainant

Complainant

7

Summing up from the Panel

Chair

8

Withdrawal of Complainant, Investigator and Complainants Companion

Chair

9

Consideration of case by Panel

Panel

10

Return of Complainant, Investigator and Complainants Companion

Chair

11

Decision of the Panel

Chair

 

Item Number

Supporting Documentation Provided with Agenda

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

 

 

Appendix 3: Roles and Responsibilities

Complainant

The complainant will receive a more effective response to the complaint if they:

  • explain the complaint in full as early as possible
  • co-operate with the school in seeking a solution to the complaint
  • respond promptly to requests for information or meetings or in agreeing the details of the complaint
  • ask for assistance as needed
  • treat all those involved in the complaint with respect
  • refrain from publicising the details of their complaint on social media and respect confidentiality.

Investigator

The investigator’s role is to establish the facts relevant to the complaint by:

  • providing a comprehensive, open, transparent and fair consideration of the complaint through:
  • sensitive and thorough interviewing of the complainant to establish what has happened and who has been involved
  • interviewing staff and children/young people and other people relevant to the complaint
  • consideration of records and other relevant information
  • analysing information
  • liaising with the complainant and the complaints co-ordinator as appropriate to clarify what the complainant feels would put things right.

The investigator should:

  • conduct interviews with an open mind and be prepared to persist in the questioning
  • keep notes of interviews or arrange for an independent note taker to record minutes of the meeting
  • ensure that any papers produced during the investigation are kept securely pending any appeal
  • be mindful of the timescales to respond
  • prepare a comprehensive report for the headteacher or complaints committee that sets out the facts, identifies solutions and recommends courses of action to resolve problems.
  • The headteacher or complaints committee will then determine whether to uphold or dismiss the complaint and communicate that decision to the complainant, providing the appropriate escalation details.

Clerk to the Local Governing Body / Board of Directors

The Clerk is the contact point for the complainant and the committee and should act as the Complaints Co-ordinator:

  • ensure that all people involved in the complaint procedure are aware of their legal rights and duties, including any under legislation relating to school complaints, education law, the Equality Act 2010, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • set the date, time and venue of the meeting, ensuring that the dates are convenient to all parties (if they are invited to attend) and that the venue and proceedings are accessible
  • collate any written material relevant to the complaint (for example: stage 1 paperwork, school and complainant submissions) and send it to the parties in advance of the meeting within an agreed timescale
  • record the proceedings
  • circulate the minutes of the meeting
  • notify all parties of the committee’s decision.

Committee Chair

The committee’s chair, who is nominated in advance of the stage 3 complaint meeting, should ensure that:

  • both parties are asked (via the Clerk) to provide any additional information relating to the complaint by a specified date in advance of the meeting
  • the meeting is conducted in an informal manner, is not adversarial, and that, if all parties are invited to attend, everyone is treated with respect and courtesy
  • complainants who may not be used to speaking at such a meeting are put at ease. This is particularly important if the complainant is a child/young person
  • the remit of the committee is explained to the complainant
  • written material is seen by everyone in attendance, provided it does not breach confidentiality or any individual’s rights to privacy under the DPA 2018 or GDPR.

 

If a new issue arises it would be useful to give everyone the opportunity to consider and comment upon it; this may require a short adjournment of the meeting

  • both the complainant and the school are given the opportunity to make their case and seek clarity, either through written submissions ahead of the meeting or verbally in the meeting itself
  • the issues are addressed
  • key findings of fact are made
  • the committee is open-minded and acts independently
  • no member of the committee has an external interest in the outcome of the proceedings or any involvement in an earlier stage of the procedure
  • the meeting is minuted
  • they liaise with the Clerk (and complaints co-ordinator, if the school has one.

Committee Member

Committee members should be aware that:

  • the meeting must be independent and impartial, and should be seen to be so. No governor / Director may sit on the committee if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or in the circumstances surrounding it.
  • the aim of the meeting should be to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant

 

We recognise that the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the meeting does not find in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations.

  • many complainants will feel nervous and inhibited in a formal setting

Parents/carers often feel emotional when discussing an issue that affects their child.

  • extra care needs to be taken when the complainant is a child/young person and present during all or part of the meeting

Careful consideration of the atmosphere and proceedings should ensure that the child/young person does not feel intimidated.

The committee should respect the views of the child/young person and give them equal consideration to those of adults.

If the child/young person is the complainant, the committee should ask in advance if any support is needed to help them present their complaint. Where the child/young person’s parent is the complainant, the committee should give the parent the opportunity to say which parts of the meeting, if any, the child/young person needs to attend.

However, the parent should be advised that agreement might not always be possible if the parent wishes the child/young person to attend a part of the meeting that the committee considers is not in the child/young person’s best interests.

  • the welfare of the child/young person is paramount.

 

Appendix 4: Managing serial and unreasonable complaints

 

LDST is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who complain. We will not normally limit the contact complainants have with our school. However, we do not expect our staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour and will take action to protect staff from that behaviour, including that which is abusive, offensive or threatening.

LDST defines unreasonable behaviour as that which hinders our consideration of complaints because of the frequency or nature of the complainant’s contact with the school, such as, if the complainant:

  • refuses to articulate their complaint or specify the grounds of a complaint or the outcomes sought by raising the complaint, despite offers of assistance
  • refuses to co-operate with the complaints investigation process
  • refuses to accept that certain issues are not within the scope of the complaints procedure
  • insists on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the complaints procedure or with good practice
  • introduces trivial or irrelevant information which they expect to be taken into account and commented on
  • raises large numbers of detailed but unimportant questions, and insists they are fully answered, often immediately and to their own timescales
  • makes unjustified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issues, and seeks to have them replaced
  • changes the basis of the complaint as the investigation proceeds
  • repeatedly makes the same complaint (despite previous investigations or responses concluding that the complaint is groundless or has been addressed)
  • refuses to accept the findings of the investigation into that complaint where the school’s complaint procedure has been fully and properly implemented and completed including referral to the Department for Education
  • seeks an unrealistic outcome
  • makes excessive demands on school time by frequent, lengthy and complicated contact with staff regarding the complaint in person, in writing, by email and by telephone while the complaint is being dealt with
  • uses threats to intimidate
  • uses abusive, offensive or discriminatory language or violence
  • knowingly provides falsified information
  • publishes unacceptable information on social media or other public forums.

Complainants should try to limit their communication with the school that relates to their complaint, while the complaint is being progressed. It is not helpful if repeated correspondence is sent (either by letter, phone, email or text), as it could delay the outcome being reached.

Whenever possible, the headteacher or CEO will discuss any concerns with the complainant informally before applying an ‘unreasonable’ marking.

 

If the behaviour continues, the headteacher will write to the complainant explaining that their behaviour is unreasonable and ask them to change it. The Trust will resist abuse of the complaints procedure and may reserve the right not to investigate complaints considered to be vexatious or malicious or where the headteacher or CEO is satisfied with the action that the school has already taken or proposes to take to resolve the complaint.

For complainants who excessively contact LDST causing a significant level of disruption, we may specify methods of communication and limit the number of contacts in a communication plan. This will be reviewed after six months.

In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, we will immediately inform the police and communicate our actions in writing. This may include barring an individual from an LDST school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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