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Feedback and complaints

Complaints about schools

Schools are independently managed and governed. Therefore each school is responsible for dealing with the complaints. The areas where Devon County Council can instruct a school to take particular action are limited. It is the headteacher’s responsibility to ensure that all concerns and complaints are dealt with speedily, efficiently, fully and fairly within the school, in accordance with the policy of the school’s governing body.

How do I complain?

If your child has a problem at school you should first try to resolve it with an informal discussion with your child’s teacher. If you are unable to resolve a problem informally, the school will have a formal complaints procedure that you can follow. Please contact the school and obtain a copy before making your complaint.

The complaints process

Stage 1
An informal discussion of your concerns with your child’s teacher would be regarded as stage 1 of the complaints process. If your issue is not resolved at this stage you can go onto stage 2.

Stage 2
Contact the headteacher and ask for an appointment to discuss the matter or alternatively put your concern in writing. The headteacher will look into the issues you have raised and respond once the relevant facts have been established. If this does not resolve the issue for you proceed to stage 3 by writing to the chair of governors with your concerns.

Stage 3
The governing body will convene a small panel of governors, who have not been involved previously, to look in detail at the issues you raise. You may be invited to attend a meeting to discuss your complaint. After fully considering your complaint the governors will write to you to inform you of their decision.

If you believe that your school’s governing body is acting ‘unreasonably’ you can complain to the Department for Education. This should be a last resort, and you should highlight in your letter the steps you have already taken to resolve the problem locally and include any evidence you have.

Complain to Ofsted

Ofsted also has a role in investigating complaints about the work of a school as a whole. For example, if:

  • the school is not providing a good enough education
  • the pupils are not achieving as they should, or their different needs are not being met
  • the school is not well led and managed, or wasting money
  • the pupils’ personal development and well being are being neglected.

Ofsted cannot help with complaints about matters relating to an individual child. You can check what they can help you with before you contact them.

Mediation

Mediation is a process by which impartial facilitators (mediators) help people in dispute work out an agreement. The disputants, not the mediators, decide the terms of the agreement.

Mediation is a voluntary process which can transform the way people communicate, interact and manage conflict. This process is an informal alternative to the complaint process; however, at any time during the process either party can withdraw and seek a formal resolution to their issues.

Mediation seeks to meet the interests of both sides in a dispute. If you feel communication between yourself and the school has broken down – this may be an acceptable alternative.

For enquiries about whether mediation may be a suitable route to resolving your issue please telephone 07966 474364 or email mediation@devon.gov.uk.