School Complaints Procedure

Policy

At The Radclyffe School we are proud of the quality of teaching and pastoral care provided to students and we are committed to continuous improvement. We therefore welcome feedback and all concerns are considered very seriously and always with a view to seeking a resolution at the earliest opportunity. It is The Radclyffe School Policy to investigate all concerns and complaints in a timely and non-adversarial manner.

All complaints and expressions of concern, whether raised informally or formally, will be treated confidentially and correspondence, statements and records will remain confidential except in so far as is required by paragraph 6(2)(j) of the Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2003; where disclosure is required in the course of the school’s inspection; or where any other legal obligation prevails.

In our experience most concerns can be resolved informally. Occasionally, however, a concern will be too serious to be handled in this way, perhaps needing greater investigation or because the person concerned may not feel that the answers given so far have been acceptable or adequate. In such circumstances, the concern will become a complaint and the formal procedure below will be followed. Even in these cases, every effort should be made to resolve the issue at Stage 2 of the procedure. It should be very rare that a complaint is unresolved and requires consideration at Stage 3 (Appeal to Governors).

The Governing Body will monitor the level and nature of complaints and review the outcomes on a regular basis to ensure the effectiveness of the procedure and make changes where necessary.

This Complaints Procedure does not apply to issues concerning the curriculum, admissions, exclusions or any decisions which are subject to separate appeals procedures.

Concerns from members of staff are dealt with under the school’s Grievance Procedure and concerns about staff conduct and capability are subject to separate procedures.

Procedure

Informal (Stage 1)

Any concerns about a student’s learning or welfare should, in the first instance, be raised informally with the appropriate Year Manager. Concerns about whole school issues or about the role of a member of the Governing Body should be raised directly with the school’s Complaints Co-ordinator. The Year Manager/Complaints Co-ordinator may refer the matter to the Head of Faculty or a member of the Senior Leadership team for a response. If the matter is a concern about the Head teacher, this should be directed to the Chair of Governors.

Informal concerns can be raised verbally or in writing.

The Year Manager/ nominated person will investigate and provide verbal or written feedback as appropriate and within 3 days of being notified of the concern.

In most cases concerns will be resolved at Stage 1 but if this is not the case and the outcome is considered unsatisfactory or unacceptable, details of this policy and the formal complaints procedure will be provided to the complainant, including a Stage 2 Complaint Form (please request from The Radclyffe School).

The complainant will be invited to complete the Stage 2 Complaint Form and return it to the Complaints Co-ordinator within 10 school working days of receipt of the form.

Formal (Stage 2)

On receipt of a completed Stage 2 Complaint Form (please request from The Radclyffe School) and within 3 school working days, the Complaints Co-ordinator will acknowledge receipt, clarify who will be investigating and give an indication of when a response will be given. If at all possible, the school will investigate and respond within 10 school working days. If this is not possible, the reason why will be explained and an alternative timescale agreed. A longer timescale may be necessary if meetings are required to fully understand the complaint and/or to investigate it.

At Stage 2, a complaint will normally be investigated and a response given by the Head teacher or a nominated member of the Senior Leadership Team. If the complaint concerns the Head teacher or a member of the Governing Body, it will be investigated by the Chair of Governors or a governor who has not previously been involved in the complaint.

Following investigation, a response will be given in writing and the complainant will be informed of their right of appeal to Governors (Stage 3). The concern will be recorded and notified to the Complaints Co-ordinator for monitoring purposes.

If dissatisfied, the complainant will be advised to complete a Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form (please request from The Radclyffe School) and return it to the Complaints Co-ordinator within 10 school working days of receipt of the form.

Appeal (Stage 3)

On receipt of a completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form (please request from The Radclyffe School) and within 5 school working days, the Complaints Co-ordinator will acknowledge receipt and notify the complainant of the date on which their appeal will be heard.

The Complaints Appeal Panel of the Governing Body will comprise of two nominated governors who have not previously been involved with the complaint. The panel normally meet within 20 school working days of receiving the completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form. Only matters arising from any complaint(s) considered at Stage 2 will be considered although the Panel may use its discretion to consider other relevant and related matters that may subsequently arise.

The following are entitled to attend the appeal, submit written representations and address the Panel:

  • The complainant and/or one representative;
  • The Head teacher and/or one representative (role subject to prior involvement in the complaint); and
  • Any person whom the Complaints Appeals Panel considers to have a reasonable and just interest in the appeal and whose contribution would assist the Panel in their decision-making.

Legal representation will not normally be appropriate.

All parties will be given the opportunity to submit written evidence to the Panel, including:

  • the completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form
  • documents in support of the complaint;
  • chronology and key dates relating to the complaint and the school’s response, and;
  • details of the decision made at Stage 2.

Documents will be collated by the Complaints Co-ordinator, who will then circulate the documentation to all parties, including the Panel members, along with an order of proceedings. Wherever possible, all written evidence must be received by the Complaints Co-ordinator no later than 10 school working days in advance of the appeal meeting. The Complaints Co-ordinator will distribute the written evidence to the relevant parties no later than 5 school working days in advance of the appeal meeting.

The appeal will be conducted in accordance with the agreed format for Complaint Appeals and with a view to ensuring that the nature of the complaint and the steps taken so far are understood and to enable a clear and final decision to be made.

In most cases it is anticipated that it will be possible for the panel to respond to the complaint immediately without the need for further investigation. Where further investigation is required, the Panel will decide how it should be carried out and agree next steps with the complainant. In such cases, it may be necessary for the Complaints Appeals Committee to meet again to determine final outcomes.

Once a final decision has been reached it will be notified in writing to the complainant within 3 school working days of the appeal meeting. The letter will state the reasons for the decision reached and any recommendations made by the Appeal Panel. A record of the meeting and outcomes will be kept and notified to the Complaints Co-ordinator for monitoring purposes.

Vexacious Complaints

In the unlikely event that, despite all stages of the procedure having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied, the chair of the Governing Body will inform them in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is now closed.