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Over the past few years, schools are reporting higher numbers of complaints than ever before. This is attributed to a number of factors; specifically the political and social climate, as well as the rise that we have seen in the use of social media.

All schools, academies, and trusts are required to publish clear procedures for handling complaints and are required to consider every complaint they receive from a parent, student, or any member of the public.  All complainants should have the opportunity to complete the procedure in full, apart from perhaps in very specific circumstances related to serial, anonymous, or vexatious complaints.

Top tips for handling complaints

  • Get into the position at the earliest possible stage where you are able to ask the complainant what they think could be done to resolve their issue.
  • Ensure that complaints are investigated fully and impartially at the earliest opportunity to avoid the complaint escalating.
  • Ensure that communication with the complainant is prompt and clear – the purpose of the process is resolution.
  • Don’t be ambiguous – say what you found and what you didn’t find, be clear about what you will do rather than what you may do.
  • Provide more rather than less information – explaining your decision-making rationale in clear detail will assure the complainant that their complaint has been investigated fully.
  • Be prepared to acknowledge that a specific issue could have been dealt with differently.

Perhaps most importantly, remember that the purpose of complaints procedures is to provide swift resolution to issues that may affect pupil outcomes or welfare. Try to keep perspective that it is not about proving who is right and who is wrong, rather it is about allowing all stakeholders to have a voice in your school community.

Our experienced team of governance professionals are available to provide specialist advice and guidance to support your governing body. We provide both in-school support and a readily available advice and guidance service to enable your governing body to carry out its duties effectively. Please contact us if you would like further information on any of the services we offer.

Penny Levack

Penny Levack

Penny has more than ten years’ experience in the classroom, in assessment design, and in leadership roles in both schools and universities. Her most recent role before joining Juniper Education was in governance, compliance, and communications in a multi-academy trust in South London. Penny is a governor herself and is passionate about school governance and the impact that it can have on school improvement. She has a degree in Education Studies from the University of Cambridge.