Complaints Procedure Policy
Lusitânia Primary School is committed to developing a strong sense of partnership with staff, parents/carers and other members of the local community. This provides a good basis for understanding and resolution when things appear to go wrong.
The policy and procedures are in place to ensure that staff, parents/carers and others are able to express their concerns in an open and honest way in accordance with a published Policy & Procedure.
The complaints procedure is designed to: -
- encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
- be easily accessible and well publicised
- be simple to understand and use
- be impartial
- be non-adversarial
- allow swift handling, with established time limits for action, and keep people informed of 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’s leadership team so that services can be improved with regard to investigating complaints.
At each stage, the persons investigating the complaint will make sure 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
- conduct the interview with an open mind and be prepared to persist in the questioning
- keep notes of the interview Response Standards. We believe that most complaints can be resolved satisfactorily by informal discussion either over the telephone or through a meeting involving the key people involved.
- We will acknowledge complaints within 5 school working days and give a full response to complainants within 10 school working days. If the complaint is judged to involve complex issues, complainants will be informed within 10 school working days when they can expect a full response.
Complainants will be kept informed of progress if a lengthy investigation is involved. The main aim throughout the process is to resolve the matter as quickly and effectively as possible, to everybody’s satisfaction.
Complaints against school staff
If the complaint amounts to or includes an allegation against a member of staff, this may need to be considered under the school's disciplinary procedure for employees, rather than the complaint procedure. The complainant will be advised if these procedures are to be used in dealing with the complaint.
It is in everyone’s interest that complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage.
As a way to encourage input from all stakeholders the school will place Suggestion Boxes in convenient locations.
Any suggestions, complaints, compliments etc. placed in these boxes should be signed and dated.
The boxes will only be opened by a member of the Board of Governors or the Headmaster and they will decide what the appropriate action should be, in terms of this policy if the matter is a complaint.
Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to invoke formal procedures. The School should take informal concerns seriously and make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
There are occasions when complainants would like to raise their concerns formally. In those cases, the school’s formal procedure should be invoked through the stages outlined within the procedure
In any case, ALL complaints should be recorded in a “Complaints Register” to be kept by the School Secretary.
The Register must include: the date the complaint is made and a short description of the nature of the complaint and the eventual action or decision taken to close the matter and the date on which the case was considered closed.
Informal complaints must be recorded simply as to the nature of the complaint and the action taken, if any, and no personal details of the complainant need be included in the register.
A formal complaint must be identified as such in the Register and the procedures outlined below invoked.
2. WHO CAN MAKE A COMPLAINT?
Any person, including members of the general public, may make a complaint about any provision of facilities or services that a school provides, unless separate statutory procedures apply, such as, but not limited to, complaints about abuse or any criminal activity.
The School must not limit complaints to parents or carers of children that are registered at the school.
a. Parents: Complaints’ Procedure
Lusitânia takes all complaints seriously. Complaints of all types are dealt with in accordance with this procedure:
Complainants can be assured that:
i. Their complaint will be addressed courteously and efficiently and within the timeframes set out in this policy.
ii. As far as is possible their complaint will be treated as confidential.
iii. They will be advised if and when necessary appropriate action will be taken to address their complaint and the results of that action.
b. Parents can, in particular, be reassured that their child will not be discriminated against because they have made a complaint.
c. Parents are encouraged, in the first instance, to raise a complaint of a general nature with their child’s teacher. If the complaint is of an academic nature parents are encouraged, in the first instance, to raise the matter with the Deputy Head.
3. STAGE 1 – INFORMAL RESOLUTION
a. It is normally the case that a complaint can be satisfactorily resolved informally i.e. by sensible liaison between the parties involved or by the matter being addressed by the relevant member of staff and unless the matter is of a serious nature the complainant should in the first instance raise the complaint informally (either orally or on paper).
b. The complaint will, under normal circumstances, be resolved within 48 hours and may or may not merit a written response. (A record of the outcome must however be made in the Complaints Register)
4. STAGE 2 – FORMAL RESOLUTION
a. If the complaint cannot be resolved on an informal basis or if the complaint is of a serious nature the complaint should be submitted in writing to the Headmaster.
b. Should the complaint involve either the Headmaster or the Deputy Head, the complaint must immediately be referred to the Board of Governors for resolution.
c. This letter must outline the nature of the complaint, the individuals against whom the complaint is made, if relevant, any steps that have been taken to resolve the complaint informally and should be dated and signed by the complainant.
d. Under Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) of this process:
i. The Headmaster will meet, or speak to, the complainant, within 48 hours of receiving the complaint.
ii. The Headmaster will, under normal circumstances, instruct the appropriate member of staff to investigate the complaint (e.g. if the complaint is of an academic nature the Deputy Head/or the relevant Head of Department will be asked to investigate the matter and if it is a Child Protection Policy then the CPO will investigate.)
iii. Where required, the Headmaster will conduct the investigation and advise the Board of Governors of the situation.
iv. Normally, following contact with the complainant, the investigation will be completed within 48 hours and the complainant & the Board of Governors will be informed in writing of the outcome of the investigation by the Headmaster
5. Stage 3 – HEADMASTER’S HEARING
i. If the complaint has been dealt with by the Headmaster under Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) of this procedure and the complainant is still not satisfied with the manner in which the complaint has been addressed or the outcome of the investigation under Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) of this process, he/she should proceed to Stage 3 (Headmaster’s Hearing).
ii. The complainant should write to the Headmaster within 3 working days of receiving the outcome of Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) of the process.
iii. This letter must outline both the original complaint and why the complainant believes that the complaint has not been resolved formally to his/her satisfaction under Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) of this procedure.
b. The Headmaster reserves the right to insist that the complaint is dealt with under Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) of the process if the complainant in the first instance, raises the matter under Stage 3 (Headmaster’s Hearing) of this process.
c. The Headmaster must inform the Board of Governors that the Complaint in question has been referred to Stage 3.
d. Under these circumstances:
i. The Headmaster will acknowledge the rejection of the proposed resolution under Stage 2 of the complaint in writing and schedule a hearing to take place as soon as practical and normally within 5 working days of receiving the complaint.
ii. The complainant will be invited to attend a meeting with the Headmaster together with the Deputy Head.
iii. After the meeting the headmaster will reach a decision concerning the complaint.
iv. The decision will be communicated to the complainant by the Headmaster in writing within 3 working days of the hearing. A copy of the findings will be sent to the Board of Governors, Complainant and the Deputy Head and any other relevant parties.
6. STAGE 4 - PANEL HEARING
a. If the complainant is still not satisfied with the manner in which the complaint has been addressed or the outcome of the investigation under Stage 3 (Headmaster’s Hearing), he/she should proceed to Stage 4 (Panel Hearing).
b. The complainant should write to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Lusitânia, within 5 working days of receiving the outcome of Stage 3 (Headmaster’s Hearing) of the process.
c. This letter must outline both the original complaint and why the complainant believes that the complaint has not been resolved formally to his/her satisfaction under Stage 3 (Headmaster’s Hearing) of this procedure.
d. The Chairman of the Board of Governors reserves the right to insist that the complaint is dealt with under Stage 2 (Formal Resolution) or Stage 3 (Headmaster’s Hearing) of the process if the complainant in the first instance, raises the matter under Stage 4 (Panel Hearing) of this process.
e. Under these circumstances:
i. The Chairman of the BOG will acknowledge the complaint in writing and schedule a hearing to take place as soon as practical and normally within 5 working days of receiving the complaint.
ii. The Chairman of the BOG will refer the matter for consideration to a Complaints Panel.
iii. The Complaints Panel appointed by the Chairman of the BOG will consist of three people not directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint, one of whom shall be independent of the management and running of the school.
iv. The Complainant will be invited to attend the Panel Hearing and may be accompanied at the hearing by one other person (a ‘friend’). Legal representation will not normally be appropriate and will only be permitted at the discretion of the Complaints Panel.
v. The Headmaster will also be invited to attend the Panel Hearing.
vi. After the hearing, the Complaints Panel will reach a decision concerning the complaint; this decision may include recommendations.
vii. The decision/recommendations will be communicated to the complainant by the Chairman of the BOG within 3 working days of the hearing. A copy of the findings and recommendations will be sent to the Headmaster.
viii. The decision of the Panel shall be final.
6. Action which needs to be taken under staff disciplinary procedures as a result of complaints will be handled in terms of the relevant School Policies and Legislation.
7. In all cases from Stage 2 onward, a record of the complaint will be kept on file for one year from the resolution of the complaint.
By the school having a clear, published procedure, the governors hope that this will help resolve problems and confirm good working relationships between all people involved with the school.