complaints procedure


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st teresa s rc primary school darlington january 2011 school complaints procedure to be read in conjunction with la guidance key messages dealing with complaints ­ initial concerns it must be clearly established whether a matter is a concern or a complaint taking informal concerns seriously at the earliest stage will reduce the numbers that develop into formal complaints usually the class teacher will receive the first approach it would be helpful if staff were able to resolve issues on the spot including apologising where necessary dealing with complaints ­ formal procedures these are 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 complaints coordinator the head teacher complaints procedure framework aims to be informal wherever possible accessible simple to understand and use impartial non adversarial time limited with shared communication about progress fair and offer a full investigation confidential thorough and effective in response and appropriate re dress where necessary informative to ensure that services are improved investigating complaints it is vital to establish what has happened who is involved the nature of the complaint and what is unresolved what the complainant feels would put things right through interview persistent questioning but always with an open mind what those involved in the matter know and or those complained of allowing them to be accompanied if they wish a written record of the interview in any case that concerns an allegation of physical verbal or emotional abuse towards a child or member of staff the headteacher will refer immediately to the local authority designated officer for advice on how to proceed in such cases no internal interviews will be carried out resolving complaints it may be sufficient to acknowledge that the complaint is valid in whole or part in addition it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following :


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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 the light of the complaint it is useful to ask the complainant what actions they feel would resolve the situation at any point an admission that the school could have handled things better is not the same as an admission of negligence areas of agreement between the parties need to be established it is equally important to clarify any misunderstandings that might have occurred as this can create a positive atmosphere in which to discuss any outstanding issues vexatious complaints the frequency of this type of complaint will be minimised by following the guidance above however if a complainant continues to be dissatisfied and all stages of the procedure have been followed the chair of governors is able to inform the complainant in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and the matter is now closed time limits complaints need to be considered and resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible this policy has realistic time limits for each action within each stage where further investigations are needed new deadlines can be set and explained to the complainant managing and recording complaints school will record notes of all complaints which will be kept by the ht a complaint may be made in person in writing or by telephone details given of the complaint must be checked so that complainant and staff member in the first instance have the same understanding of what was discussed and agreed notice of the existence of the school complaints procedure will be published in the annual school brochure and through the school website details of the complaints procedure will be made available on request via the school office a pro forma for use by a complainant who wishes to take a complaint to the formal stage is contained in the procedures see appendix a in an effort to ensure that any underlying issues in school are positively addressed the ht will include a brief note in the ht termly report to governors of any complaints received this form of monitoring will also ensure that complaints are used to evaluate school performance the formal complaints procedure stage 1 complaint heard by staff member stage 2 complaint heard by ht stage 3 complaint heard by governing body complaints appeal panel


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summary complaint heard by staff informal notes taken ht informed makes own note issue resolved if issue is not resolved then complaint heard by ht acknowledge receipt of complaint explain what will be done explain who will be involved should not take longer than 5 working days write to complainant re outcome as soon as possible following investigation issue now resolved if issue is still not resolved then governor complaint panel meeting called issue invite to complainant to meeting issue letter confirming panel decision ensure ht informed of outcome depends on availability of panel members ­ may take 2 /3 weeks supplementary notes stage 1 ­ complaint heard by staff member it should be recognised that a complainant may have difficulty raising the complaint directly with the concerned staff member it is then appropriate for the ht to nominate another staff member to deal where the complaint is about the ht the matter is to be referred to the chair of governors if a member of staff feels compromised in dealing with the complaint the ht can allocate another staff member to the case if the first approach is to a governor then the complainant needs to be referred to the ht in the first instance if the complaint is about the ht then the appropriate pro forma should be used and addressed to the chair governors must be aware of acting unilaterally on an individual complaint outside the formal procedure or to be involved at the early stages in case they are needed to sit on a panel at a later stage of the procedure stage 2 ­ complaint heard by ht the way in which complaints are dealt with will be shaped by the ht `s influence in dealing of complaints in general if the complainant is still dissatisfied about how stage 1 had been handled then the ht will pursue the complaint the ht may delegate the task of collating relevant information to another staff member stage 3 ­ complaint heard by g b complaints appeal panel the complainant needs to put the complaint in writing to the chair the chair or nominated governor will convene a gb complaints panel individual complaints would not be heard by the gb at any stage as this would compromise the impartiality of any panel set up to hear a complaint the governing body nominates 3/5 members with delegated powers to hear complaints within the following frame of reference follow procedure enclosed herein


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hear individual appeals make recommendations on policy as a result of complaints panel elects a chair the panel can dismiss the complaint in whole or part uphold the complaint in whole or part decide on appropriate action to resolve matters recommend changes to policy to prevent re-occurrence of similar problems the panel needs to remember impartiality no governor can sit if there has been prior involvement in the complaint or the circumstances surrounding it privacy and confidentiality the aim is to resolve the matter and reconcile complainant and school the complainant may not be satisfied with the outcome if the hearing does not find in their favour it may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations that will satisfy the complainant that his or her complaint has been taken seriously the panel needs to acknowledge that complainants may feel nervous and inhibited in a formal setting parents or carers may feel emotional when discussing an issue to do with their child the panel needs to ensure that the venue and setting out of the hearing is as welcoming and informal as possible and not adversarial in any way extra care needs to be taken if the complainant is a child to avoid intimidation it should be made quite clear which parts of the hearing the child does not need to attend those governors on the panel must know the complaints procedure roles and responsibilities clerk this will the clerk to the committees and will be responsible for arranging the meeting a suitable venue and checking mutual convenience of same collating any written material and sending out to parties before the hearing welcoming parties to meeting recording the proceedings notifying all parties of the panel s decision chair or nominated governor role check that procedure has been followed if hearing is appropriate notify the clerk to arrange panel chair of the panel a key role ­ explain to parties the remit of the panel explain that each party will put their case without interruption and be able to ask appropriate questions the issues will be addressed key findings of fact will be made all will be put at ease especially those not used to such proceedings all will be put at ease and treated with respect and courtesy the panel must remain open minded and independent


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establish that no member has a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings or has been involved in an earlier stage of the procedure ensure that written material is seen by all parties notification of the panel s decision the chair of the panel needs to ensure that the complainant is notified of the panel s decision in writing with the panel s response the deadline for this is within 7days from the date of the hearing the response will also include details if needed of any further rights of appeal and if so to whom they need to be addressed school complaints procedure checklist for panel hearing needs to be as informal as possible witnesses only need to attend for the part of the hearing in which they give their evidence after introductions the complainant is invited to explain their complaint and be followed by their witnesses the ht may question both the complainant and their witnesses after they have spoken the ht is then invited to explain the school s actions and be followed by the school s witnesses the complainant may question both the ht and the witnesses after they have spoken the panel may ask questions at any point the complainant is then asked to sum up their complaint the ht is asked to sum up the school s actions and response to the complaint both parties leave together while the panel decides on the issues the chair explains that both parties will receive the panel s decision in writing within 7 days from the date of the hearing january 2011 review due 2013


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st teresa s rc primary school complaints procedure form strictly confidential please complete and return to the headteacher who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken your name pupil s name your relationship to the pupil your address postcode tel no details of your complaint what has school done already to resolve things who did you speak to what did they say what do you think would solve things now are you attaching any paperwork y n if yes please enclose your signature date



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