Complaints Procedure

COMPLAINTS POLICY

HEBDEN BRIDGE SCHOOL

CREATED FEBRUARY 2016

PERSON RESPONSIBLE: ANIL SARNA

TO BE REVIEWED ANNUALLY

NEXT REVIEW FEBRUARY 2018

Policy Agreement

We, the Board of Trustees of Hebden Bridge School having considered and reviewed the attached policy, agree to accept all the Statements, Principles and Procedures as listed in the document.

Policy Ratified at Full Governors:                                           

Signed Anil Sarna____________              Signed Wendy Hollway
(Lead teacher)                                            (Chair of Trustees)
Date: 17/02/2017                                        Date: 17/02/2017

 

With ref to :Anti-bullying; Complaints Procedure; Discipline and Exclusions; Ex-offender; Health and Safety; Promoting Good Behaviour; Special Educational Needs, Safeguarding, Child protection.

COMPLAINTS POLICY

Our values, insofar as they affect this policy are:

  • Our school is a collaborative learning community where we seek to use every members creativity and resources and where everyone feels they belong
  • Diversity of views, experiences, ideas and skills among pupils, staff, parents/carers and in the curriculum is strength to be celebrated. We promote awareness of and respect for cultural, individual and role differences, including those due to age, gender, race ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, philosophical orientation and socioeconomic status. We challenge views and actions that lack respect for others or promote notions of superiority and inferiority between people.
  • Only through a system which encourages openness and transparency can we best safeguard children, young people and staff we encourage our pupils, parents/carers, staff and Local Authority clients to complain about any aspect of our service that could be improved on. We are vigilant about keeping our pupils safe and we ensure they are aware of how to keep themselves safe.
  • We want to improve and welcome all opportunities so to do. We are a learning community and seek to learn from our partners, internal colleagues and consultants and external inspectors and others with expertise to share. Our staff are committed to Continuing Professional Development.
  • Finally, to reiterate: we are a learning community. Mistakes may be made by all members of the community from time to time. These are our opportunities for learning and change. We work with hope for a better tomorrow when today has been hard.

Introduction

The aim of this Complaints Policy and Procedure is to ensure that every parent/carer and pupil involved in Hebden Bridge School understands our policy and has access to an informal and formal procedure that supports and enables them to raise concerns or complain about any aspect of our school and service. This policy is in place for all parents/carers and pupils in our school. (Staff who have concerns or complaints are expected to raise these through the school staff grievance procedure.)

Initial Concerns: When any concern is raised, staff must be clear about the difference between a concern and a complaint. Taking informal concerns seriously at the earliest stage will reduce the numbers that develop into formal complaints. The underlying principle is that concerns ought to be handled, if at all possible, without the need for formal procedures. The requirement to have a complaints procedure should not undermine efforts to resolve the concern informally. In most cases the class teacher or the individual delivering the service will receive the first approach. It would be helpful for everyone if staff are able to resolve issues on the spot, including apologising where appropriate.

Formal Procedures: The formal procedures will need to be invoked when initial attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further.

ANIL SARNA, the Lead Teacher is the School’s nominated member of staff with responsibility for the operation and management of the school complaints procedure.

Framework of Principles:

The Complaints Policy and Procedure will:

  • encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
  • be easily accessible and publicised;
  • be simple to understand and use;
  • be impartial;
  • be non-adversarial;
  • allow swift handling with established time-limits for action and keeping people
  • informed of the progress;
  • ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary;
  • respect people’s desire for confidentiality;
  • address all the points at issue and provide an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary;
  • provide information to the school, so that services can be improved.

Complaints; The Policy

We want everyone involved in HEBDEN BRIDGE SCHOOL to be able to tell us if they think we are doing something wrong or acting unfairly. When concerns are raised or complaints are made, we will do everything in our power to put things right as quickly as possible. Our first action will always be to ensure, from the outset, that everyone involved is given a copy of the ‘Complaints Leaflet’ and has the procedure explained to them.

We recognise that it is essential to be open to criticism or complaint from any source and that only by being open to criticism or complaints can we hope to improve our service and the attainment of the pupils we teach. Therefore we welcome concerns and complaints. We anticipate that these and other issues can be quickly and informally resolved through improved communication and immediate response. If an informal complaint is not resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, it may be necessary to use the formal complaints procedure. It is important that this choice is always available.

  • Being Healthy – have access to regular exercise, know about and make healthy lifestyle choices, understand sexual health risks and the dangers of smoking and substance abuse, are encouraged to eat and drink healthily, recognize the signs of personal stress and have available strategies to deal with it.
  • Staying Safe – display concern for others, refrain from intimidating and anti-social behaviour; feel safe from bullying and discrimination; feel confident to report bullying and racist incidents; act responsibly in high risk situations
  • Enjoying and achieving – have positive attitudes to education, behave well and have a good attendance record.
  • Making a positive contribution – understand legal and civil rights and responsibilities; show social responsibility, and refrain from bullying and discrimination; express their views at school and are confident their views and ‘voice’ will be heard; initiate and manage a range of organized activities in school and community organizations
  • Achieving economic and social well-being – develop basic skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT; develop their self-confidence and team working skills; become enterprising, able to handle change, take initiative and calculate risk when making decisions; become financially literate and gain an understanding of business and the economy and of their career options; develop knowledge and skills when they are older, related to workplace situations

In particular this policy will enable pupils to stay safe and make a positive contribution.

Standards

The following standards set out clearly the responsibilities of managers and staff for responding to and resolving concerns and complaints when they are first raised, unless they are of a very serious nature or are about the Lead Teacher in which case the matter will be dealt with as a formal complaint under the procedure set out below.

Staff: responding to Concerns and/or Complaints in an informal manner:

When a concern or complaint is first raised all staff should keep in mind ways in which it could be resolved. It might be sufficient to acknowledge that the concern or complaint is valid in whole or in part. In addition, it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:

  • an apology;
  • an explanation;
  • an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better; an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
  • an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again;
  • an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint.

All concerns or complaints must be written up and reported to the Lead Teacher with a clear explanation of what the concern or complaint was, what was done about it and whether the complainant was satisfied with the response. If the concern or complaint cannot be resolved or the complainant is not satisfied the matter should be referred to the Head Teacher for investigation and the complainant informed that this action has been taken
The Lead Teacher must ensure, when they investigate complaints, that they:

  • establish what has happened so far, and who has been involved;
  • clarify the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved;
  • meet with the complainant or contact them (if unsure or further information is necessary)
  • clarify what the complainant feels would put things right
  • interview those involved in the matter and/or those complained of,

allowing them to be accompanied if they wish

  • Keep notes of the interview.
  • Complainants will be encouraged to state what actions they feel might resolve the problem at any stage during the resolution of the complaint.
  • This procedure should identify areas of agreement between the parties and clarify any misunderstandings that might have occurred to ensure that a positive atmosphere in which to discuss any outstanding issues will be created.
  • Any complaints, substantiated or not are considered by the staff and trsutees and appropriate action is taken to improve procedures, whilst maintaining confidentiality.

Complaints: The Formal Procedure

  • In most cases any concern or complaint, regardless of whose attention it is initially brought to, should be discussed informally (stage 1) before being submitted at any of the following consecutive formal stages.
  • However, occasionally there will be circumstances under which it is unsuitable for complaints to be dealt with in this way.
  • In all cases where the complaint concerns the school’s Lead Teacher directly, the complaint will go to (stage 3) of the formal complaints procedure.
  • In some cases, it may be deemed inappropriate for individuals to discuss their concerns informally.
  • In such cases, complainants must be directed to contact the Lead Teacher directly. Complainants may choose to contact the Lead Teacher directly of their own accord. (Stage 2)
  • In these cases it will be at the discretion of the Lead Teacher as to whether or not it is appropriate for the complainant to discuss the matter informally (return to stage 1).

Who can complain?

This policy may be used by anyone who has a concern or complaint about any aspect of the school. In the main this will mean the pupils, or the parents or carers of the school’s pupils, but may include the County Council, partner agencies, neighbours of the school, or members of the local community.

Aims and objectives of the policy

This complaints policy aims to:

  • Encourage the resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
  • Ensure that concerns are dealt with quickly, fully and fairly and within clearly defined time limits
  • Provide effective responses and appropriate redress;
  • Maintain good working relationships between all people involved with the school.

Monitoring complaints

At all formal stages of the complaints procedure, the following information will be recorded:

  • The name of the complainant;
  • The date and time at which complaint was made;
  • The details of the complaint
  • The desired outcome of the complainant;
  • How the complaint is investigated (including written records of interviews held);
  • Results and conclusions of investigations;
  • Any action taken;
  • The complainant’s response (satisfaction or further pursuit of complaint).

The Lead Teacher will act as the ‘complaints co-ordinator’, and will have the responsibility for the operation and management of the school complaints policy and will be responsible for monitoring complaints. Records will be retained for the periods specified in the procedure guidance. In the event of the complaint being made against the Lead Teacher, the Chair of Trustees will take on the ‘complaints co-ordinator’ role and the complaint will go straight to Stage 3.

Upholding or not upholding complaints

At each stage of the complaints procedure, the conclusion will be either:

  • That the complaint is upheld (in part or in full) and, where appropriate, some form of action is taken.

Or

  • That the complaint is not upheld and reasons for this are clearly given.

In the first instance, it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:

  • an apology;
  • an explanation;
  • an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better;
  • an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
  • an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again;
  • an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint.

In the second instance, the complainant may either choose to take no further action or to take their complaint to the next relevant stage.

Publicity and communication

It is a legal requirement to publicise complaints procedures.

This policy will be included within the School’s information in a number of ways:

  • information about the policy will be included in the school prospectus
  • information will be given to new parents when their child joins the school
  • information will be given to pupils at the school within a week of their admission
  • home school bulletins and/or newsletters will remind parents/carers about the policy

All staff and members of Parkview Academy management will be made aware of the complaints procedure and the various stages involved. At all stages of the complaints procedure, everybody involved will be clear about what is happening and what their responsibilities are. Written records will be kept as evidence of procedures followed. In addition, the complainant will be told how to proceed to the next stage of the procedure if and when their complaint is not upheld.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is vital. All conversations and correspondence will be treated with discretion. Complainants have the right to know what use will be made of personal information and accordingly, personal information will only be shared between staff on a ‘need to know’ basis.

(The exception to this is the requirement of the school to provide parents and other interested parties with information about the number of complaints registered under the formal procedure during the preceding year, and to inspectors conducting inspections under section 162A of the education act 2002, as amended by schedule 8 of the education act 2005, or to the Secretary of State, should they ask for such records.)

Equal access, accompaniment and representation

Steps will be taken to ensure that any individual has the opportunity to raise their concerns or submit a formal complaint. This includes the right to be accompanied or represented by a friend or relative at discussions and hearings and/or to submit formal complaints which have been written by another individual on their behalf. Should any meeting need to be held where any parties would have difficulties in terms of access, we will assist with providing an appropriate venue.

It is an expectation that equal respect will be granted to each person involved within the process and that differences between people will be respected and understood.

Time between stages

Although each of the stages within the procedure should occur consecutively, it is not necessary for each stage to immediately follow the last. Complainants may need some time to decide whether or not they wish to pursue the matter any further.

After each stage, the complainant and the individual who is dealing with their complaint at that time should agree an appropriate time limit within which the next stage should be accessed, if at all. If the complaint is not submitted to the next stage within this agreed time limit it will be considered as closed.

Changes to time limits and deadlines

In general, the time limits and deadlines contained within this policy should be adhered to. However, in certain circumstances it may be deemed inappropriate or impossible to guarantee that this is possible. Where a complaint leads to criminal proceedings this will always be the case. If and when it becomes necessary to alter the time limits and deadlines set out within this policy, the complainant should be told and given an explanation as to why this has been the case.

Appeals

If at any stage, as the result of a complaint, a decision or course of action is taken with regards to an individual (apart from the complainant) which they feel is ungrounded, unjustified or incorrect they have the right to appeal. The School’s appeal procedures will facilitate this.

The Steps in the Complaints Process are outlined below in detail:

  • When a complaint is made, whether formally or informally, it must always be recorded in the ‘Complaints File’, to show the date and time of the complaint being made; the name of the person making it; the nature of their complaint; any response required/given; and the name of the person(s) dealing with it. Details of any complaint must always be carefully recorded, along with any supporting information such as to whom the complaint was made or evidence in support of the complaint.
  • The person assigned to investigate the matter must be independent of the substance of the complaint. If necessary, a senior member of staff from another site may be asked to undertake the investigation.
  • A written record will be kept throughout of all communication and actions planned or taken, so that the progress of any investigation can be monitored. The records will indicate whether the complaint was resolved satisfactorily at the preliminary stage or proceeded to a panel hearing.
  • The matter should then be looked into and responded to, if not in full, within 3 working days providing written details of how the matter has been dealt with or the timescale during which it will be investigated and fully addressed.
  • The reference number and name of person dealing with the complaint must be given to the person making the complaint within 24 hours or 1 working day of the complaint being received.
  • When a formal complaint is made, it must be recorded in the ‘Complaints File’ and given a reference number based upon the date the complaint is received, the name of the person dealing with it, the name of the education site involved and the initials of the HBS person making the complaint. (Stage 2) For example: Complaint reference number – 30.9.04 / (PR) / site name / (CI)
  • The person making the complaint must be given the opportunity for their complaint to be dealt with informally in the first instance, (stage 1) with the assurance that their complaint will be taken seriously. They must also be assured that if they are not satisfied with the response they are given, they have the right to make their complaint formal. A copy of the ‘Complaints leaflet’ should be given to them.
  • A decision must also be made at this stage as to how and when to inform any third party (ies) who may be the subject of the complaint.
  • Information about any complaint made must be passed immediately to a senior manager in the school, for them to make an initial assessment as to its seriousness and to monitor how complaints are being handled.
  • If the complaint cannot for any reason be investigated and responded to fully within 3 working days, the complainant should receive a written and verbal explanation stating what steps have been taken and the time frame for completion. The process of investigation and response should not exceed 10 working days, except in rare and exceptional circumstances. If this does occur it is vital that the Complainant is informed as to when they may expect a full response. It is essential throughout that the Complainant is kept fully informed of the progress of their complaint.
  • Where the Complainant wishes to appeal against the response provided, an Appeal hearing will be arranged by the Lead Teacher of Hebden Bridge School,. The appeal will be heard by a panel of at least 3 people, who have not previously been involved in the Complaint. At least one panel member will be nominated by the Local Education Authority, to be fully independent of Hebden Bridge School
  • The complainant may attend the panel meeting and may also be accompanied by a friend.
  • The Appeal hearing will be arranged and an Appeals panel convened by the Managing Director within 15 working days, with at least three working days’ notice given.
  • Panel members will be asked to consider the substance of the original complaint and the response provided to this complaint by the Lead Teacher. They will then be free to make their own findings and recommendations.
  • The outcome of any Appeal hearing will be formally recorded and copies of the findings and recommendations distributed within 5 working days to the Complainant, the Lead teacher, and, where possible, any person(s) about whom the complaint has been made.
  • In response to any formal complaint, a written report must be prepared for the Lead Teacher, who will consider the investigator’s report and make a formal response. Should the matter then remain unresolved to the Complainant’s satisfaction, he or she has the right to appeal the outcome, within four weeks of the Lead Teacher’s report being received.
  • The outcome of any Appeal hearing will be formally recorded and copies of the findings and recommendations distributed within 5 working days to the Complainant, the Lead teacher, and, where possible, any person(s) about whom the complaint has been made.
  1. REFERRAL TO THE COMPLAINTS COORDINATOR
    Introduction
    This is Stage 1 of the formal complaints process and, as a result, all communications between parties need to be carefully recorded and monitored as set out in the ‘monitoring complaints’ section of this document.

Informal discussion with Lead teacher

Before proceeding with a formal investigation, the Lead teacher will meet with the individual and discuss their concerns and wishes. It may still be appropriate and satisfactory to reach an informal resolution at this point. If not, the head teacher will decide whether the individual’s complaint will be dealt with by this policy or another statutory procedure and advise them on what they will need to do.

Submitting a formal complaint

By this stage it must be clear that the concern is a definite complaint which will be dealt with according to this policy and should be formally submitted in writing to the Lead teacher. As indicated within the ‘equal access, a complainant and representation’ section of this policy, all complainants have the right to submit formal complaints, at this or any stage, which have been written by another individual on their behalf.

Acknowledgement and time scales

The head teacher should formally acknowledge the complaint within 3 school days of receiving it and begin an investigation.

The investigation

The head teacher will need to investigate the complaint and review any relevant documentation and information. If necessary, the head teacher will interview witnesses and take statements from those involved. If the complaint centres on a pupil, the pupil will also usually be interviewed. As indicated within the ‘equal access, accompaniment and representation’ section of this document, all individuals have the right, at this or any other stages, to be accompanied or represented by a friend or relative at discussions and hearings. This includes the right of teachers to be accompanied by a representative from their Trade Union. When pupils are interviewed, an additional member of staff should always attend.

Response

The Lead teacher will provide the complainant with a full written response within 10 school days of acknowledging it. This response will determine whether or not the complaint has been upheld, the reasons why, and what action (if any) will be taken.

Options for complainant

If the individual is dissatisfied with the response they have been given and would like to take their complaint further, they should be referred to the school’s complaints procedure and accompanying public guidance leaflet and told how to move on to the next stage.

This policy has been developed after consulting:

  • The Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 Standard 7(a –l)
  • DfES School Complaints Procedure Guidance;
  • The best practice of local authorities;
  • ‘Running a Complaints System’ (The Local Government Ombudsman);
  • Advisory Centre for Education; DfES School Government Team 2
  • School details are here:Contact
  • Ofsted contact details are:Ofsted
    Piccadilly Gate
    Store Street
    Manchester
    M1 2WD

    enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk