(Click here to download a complaint form)
Greenfields is committed to encouraging the involvement of parents in their children’s education. One aspect of this commitment is reflected by recognising that from time to time things may occur which cause parents concern. But it is important that parents know what steps to take to make sure any problems are satisfactorily resolved. These notes are intended to provide guidance to help parents with this process.
Every complaint is a matter of concern to Greenfields and will be investigated with due urgency and thoroughness. Whenever a complaint is upheld every effort will be made to rectify the issue and if necessary action will be taken to try to prevent a recurrence of the problem. The school will not investigate anonymous complaints or allegations but confidentiality will be respected and the identity of complainants will be protected where necessary.
WHO SHOULD I TALK TO?
Most concerns can be dealt with most quickly and effectively through informal discussion with members of staff at the school. Parents are always welcome to come into school to discuss any concerns or problems that have arisen and are encouraged to talk to their child’s teacher in the first instance as the teacher having knowledge of both your child and events in school is often the best placed person to help.
WILL WHAT I SAY BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL?
You can expect matters you raise will be treated in confidence but parents also need to understand that to resolve problems and find the best way forward the teacher may have to make further enquiries. When this is the case you can expect that this will be done with care and that teachers will be sensitive to how such circumstances may affect your child. This is true for any investigation undertaken by the school at any time.
WHAT IF IT IS DIFFICULT TO TALK TO MY CHILD’S TEACHER ABOUT MY CONCERN?
Sometimes you may feel that approaching your child’s teacher could be awkward especially if the matter you wish to discuss may affect a member of staff. If this is the case, or if talking to the teacher on a previous occasion does not seem to have resolved the particular problem, you should seek help from the Headteacher. The Headteacher has responsibility for the day to day running of the school and recognise that situations like this can be difficult and sensitive. You can expect the Headteacher to take the appropriate steps to follow up your concerns and to discuss the outcome with you. Obviously, sometime needs to be allowed for this to take place but in most cases the Head teacher will contact you again within a relatively short space of time (ideally within 3 working days).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INFORMAL AND FORMAL COMPLAINT?
Each of the situations above is an example of how concerns may be addressed informally. Good communication and discussion of problems allow issues to be dealt with quickly. The process is a verbal one and usually one directly involves you and the parent and a member of staff or the Headteacher. Dealing with matters informally does not mean that the concerns are not taken seriously nor that agreed action will not be followed through. The complaint becomes formal when you feel that your concern is too serious to be dealt with informally or when you feel that informal approaches to the school have not been adequately dealt with. Formal complaints should be made in writing to the Headteacher and all investigations resulting from this and any responses made by the school will be documented.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I NEED TO MAKE A FORMAL COMPLAINT?
Formal complaints need to be made to the Headteacher in writing. If the complaint itself relates to the Headteacher then the complaint needs to be made in writing to the Chair of the Governing Body. Certain types of complaint are already covered by statutory procedures laid down by Shropshire Council and the Government. These cover complaints about the curriculum, admissions and exclusions of children from school. You can expect to receive written acknowledgement of your complaint from the school within three working days on receiving your letter or email and if the complaint is covered by one of these statutory procedures the school will provide you with details of how these procedures work. You will also be offered an opportunity to discuss the process and to provide the school with any further information you think should be considered. This will happen even if your concern falls outside of the areas covered by the statutory arrangements because the school follows some of the principles to deal with complaints about other aspects of school life.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
When you receive a formal acknowledgement of your complaint from the Headteacher you will also be given an estimated date by which you can expect a full response. The Headteacher will provide you with an opportunity to discuss the process and to add any additional information you feel is important. The Headteacher will also take the appropriate steps to investigate the matter and will keep written records of the investigation. As soon as the relevant facts have been established you will receive a written response from the Headteacher which includes an explanation of the decision which has been reached. The reason for the decision and the actions needed to be taken to resolve your complaint. The Headteacher may also wish to discuss this with you directly beforehand. You can expect to receive your formal response within ten working days of the original acknowledgement of your complaint. If a delay is anticipated the school should keep you informed in writing of progress and when you are likely to receive details of the outcome of the investigation. If complaints were to be made about the actions of a Headteacher it would be normal for the Chair of the Governing Body to carry out the investigation at this stage.
I STILL FEEL THAT THE MATTER HAS NOT BEEN RESOLVED WHAT SHOULD I DO?
It is very rare that a complaint will reach this stage but if it does the next step in the process will involve an independent and impartial review by the Complaints Committee of the Governing Body. You should write to the Chair of the Governing Body requesting that your complaint proceeds to this stage. The Chair will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and will explain that the Complaints Committee will meet to review your complaints within ten working days. The Committee will consist of three Governors who have had no prior involvement in the matter in question. All relevant documents relating to the complaint will be provided to the Committee beforehand. You will receive notification of a date that the Committee will meet five days in advance of the meeting. You will also be informed that you have the right to attend the meeting and to be accompanied by a friend or legal representative. The Headteacher will also be invited to attend the meeting. Whilst discussions at the meeting will be documented the meeting will be as informal as possible with the main aim to resolve the problem raised and to achieve reconciliation between you and the school. It provides an opportunity for you to explain your complaint and concerns and for the Headteacher to explain response and for all people present to seek clarification through questions and discussions. Once the discussion has ended everyone apart from the Committee will leave the meeting and the Committee will review matters and reach its decision. A written decision on the complaint will be provided to you and to the school by the Committee within seven working days. You will also be advised of what options are open to you to appeal against the decision. If you prefer the complaint can be dealt with on the basis of written representations but the same time scale and reporting back procedures will be followed.
If you have any queries or questions about any of the process please do not hesitate to contact the school for clarification.