John Donne Complaints Policy 2014-15
This policy applies to all concerns and complaints other than Child Protection issues and
Exclusions, where separate procedures apply
This policy complies with Schedule 1, Part 7 of the Education (Independent School
Standards) (England) Regulations 2010.
We aim to resolve any complaints in a timely manner. Timescales for each stage of the
Complaints Procedure are set out below in the relevant paragraphs. For the purposes of this
policy, a "working day" is defined as a weekday during term time, when the academy is
open. The definition of "working day" excludes weekends and Bank Holidays.
Policy Aim and Statement
The aim of this policy is to ensure that a concern or complaint by a parent/carer is managed
sympathetically, efficiently and at the appropriate level and resolved as soon as possible.
Doing so is good practice, it is fair to those concerned and it helps to promote parents’ and
pupils’ confidence in our ability to safeguard and promote welfare. We will try to resolve
every concern or complaint in a positive way with the aim of resolving the issue in a
The school expects that most concerns can be resolved informally. All concerns will be taken
seriously kept confidential.
We need to know as soon as possible if there is any cause for dissatisfaction. We recognise
that a difficulty that is not resolved quickly and fairly can soon become a cause of
resentment, which could be damaging to relationships and also to our academy culture. We
intend that parents and pupils should never feel – or be made to feel – that a complaint will
be taken amiss or will adversely affect a pupil or his/her opportunities at the academy. The
policy, however, distinguishes between a concern or difficulty which can be resolved
informally and a formal complaint which will require further investigation.
Stage 1: Informal Complaints
Most concerns, where a parent/carer seeks intervention, reconsideration or some other
action to be taken, can be resolved informally. Examples might include dissatisfaction about
some aspect of teaching, disciplinary matters or issues outside the classroom.
Parents/carers should raise the concern initially with the Class Teacher or the Headteacher
as appropriate. The school will endeavour to ensure that informal complaints are resolved
within 10 working days of being raised.
2. Unresolved concerns:
A concern which has not been resolved informally within ten working days from the receipt of
the complaint can be notified as a formal complaint in accordance with Stage 2 below.
3. Record of concerns:
In the case of concerns raised under Stage 1 of this procedure, the only record of the
concern and its resolution will be file notes by the person dealing with the complaint and/or
file correspondence between the person raising the concern and the respondent.
Stage 2: Formal Complaints
An unresolved concern under Stage 1, or a complaint which needs investigation, or a more
serious dissatisfaction with some aspect of the school`s policies, procedures, management
or administration should be set out in writing with full details and sent with all relevant
documents and full contact details for the attention of the Headteacher of the Academy
concerned or the Chair of Governors, as appropriate (complaints regarding the Headteacher
should go to the Chair of Governors). Should a formal written complaint be received by
another member of the school’s staff, this should be immediately passed to the
The complaint will be acknowledged in writing normally within 3 working days of receipt
during term time and as soon as practicable during the holidays. The acknowledgement will
indicate the action that is being taken and the likely timescale for resolution.
6. Investigation and resolution:
The Headteacher may deal with the matter personally or delegate a senior member of staff
to act as “investigating officer.” The “investigating officer” may request additional information
from the complainant and will fully investigate the issue. In most cases the Headteacher or
investigating officer will meet or speak with the parent/carer to discuss the matter.
The aim is to inform any complainant of the outcome of an investigation and the resolution to
the complaint within 15 working days from the receipt of the complaint.
8. Record of complaints:
Written records will be kept of any meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint.
9. Unresolved Complaints:
Where the complainant is not satisfied with the school’s response to their complaint they
may have their complaint considered by an independent Complaints Panel.
Stage 3 – Complaint Heard by the Complaints Panel
A request for a complaint to be heard by a Complaints Panel (an appeal) must be made in
writing and within ten working days of the date of the school’s decision made at Stage 2.
Where an appeal is received, the school will within 3 working days refer the matter to the
Clerk of the Governors who will act as Clerk to the Complaints Panel. The Clerk will
acknowledge, in writing, receipt of the appeal within 3 working days and inform the
complainant of the steps involved in the process. The Clerk will be the contact point for the
12. Panel Hearing:
The Clerk will aim to convene an Appeal Panel hearing as soon as possible, normally no
later than 20 working days after receipt of the Stage 3 request.
13. Panel Membership:
The Panel will consist of two Governors who have not previously been involved in the
complaint and one person independent of the management and running of the school (the
process used for selecting the independent person will conform to relevant guidance). In
deciding the make-up of the Panel, Governors need to try and ensure that it is a crosssection
of Governors and sensitive to the issues of race, gender and religious affiliation. The
Panel will select its own Chair.
14. The Remit of the Complaints Appeal Panel:
The Panel can:
a) dismiss the complaint in whole or in part
b) uphold the complaint in whole or in part
c) decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
d) recommend changes to the academy’s systems or procedures to ensure that
problems of a similar nature do not recur
The aim of the hearing, which will be held in private, will always be to resolve the complaint
and achieve reconciliation between the academy and the complainant. The panel chair will
ensure that the proceedings are as informal as possible.
The following are entitled to attend a hearing, submit written evidence and address the
a) the parents/carers and/or one representative
b) the Headteacher and/or one representative
c) any other person who the Complaints Panel considers to have a reasonable and just
interest in the appeal and whose contribution would assist the Panel in their decision
All parties will be given the opportunity to submit written evidence to the Panel in support of
their position including;
b) chronology and key dates
c) written statements setting out further detail
The evidence will be considered by the Panel along with the initial submission.
All written evidence must be received by the Clerk no later than (five) 5 working days in
advance of the Panel Hearing. The Clerk will distribute the evidence to all parties no later
than (three) 3 working days in advance of the Panel Hearing.
17.Roles and Responsibilities
The Role of the Clerk:
All panels considering complaints must be clerked. The clerk would be the contact point for
the complainant and be required to:
a) set the date, time and venue of the hearing, ensuring that the dates are convenient
to all parties and that the venue and proceedings are accessible
b) collate any written material and send it to the parties in advance of the hearing
c) meet and welcome the parties as they arrive at the hearing
d) record the proceedings
e) notify all parties of the panel’s decisions
The Role of the Chair of Governors or Nominated Governor:
a) check that the correct procedure has been followed
b) if a hearing is appropriate, notify the clerk to arrange the panel
The Role of the Chair of the Panel:
The Chair of the Panel has a key role, ensuring that:
a) the remit of the panel is explained to the parties and each party has the opportunity
of putting their case without undue interruption
b) the issues are addressed
c) key findings of fact are made
d) parents or others who may not be used to speaking at such a hearing are put at ease
e) the hearing is conducted in an informal manner with each party treating the other with
respect and courtesy
f) the panel is open minded and acting independently;
g) no member of the panel has a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings or
any involvement in an earlier stage of the procedure;
h) each side is given the opportunity to state their case and ask questions;
i) written material is seen by all parties. If a new issue arises it would be useful to give
all parties the opportunity to consider and comment on it.
The Panel will reach a decision, and make any recommendations within ten (10) working
days of the hearing. The decision reached is final.
19.Notification of the Panel’s Decision:
The Panel’s findings will be sent, in writing, by the Clerk, to the parents/carers, the
Governors and the Headteacher and where relevant, to the person complained about. The
letter will state the reasons for the decision reached and any recommendations made by the
The school will keep a record of all appeals, decisions and recommendations of the