Complaints Policy

Concern or a Complaint

At Educate U we work closely with our families, children, agencies, professional and have an Open Door Policy to help with any issues as they arise. We strongly believe that open dialogue is the best and most effective way of working through difficulties, but we do also recognise that it is important to have a transparent and effective formal way of raising concerns or making a complaint.  We take all complaints and concerns seriously and make every effort to resolve them quickly and efficiently.

  • A ‘concern’ may be treated as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’.
  • A complaint may be generally recognised as ‘an expression or statement of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.

If you have a concern or complaint, please speak to the headteacher or SMT who will endeavor to work with you to resolve the issue, but if this is not possible, please follow the procedure below.

Anyone can make a complaint about our provision or services that Educate U provides.

Complainants will be given the opportunity to complete the complaints procedure in full, unless you possess clear evidence that the complaint meets the serial complaint criteria.

Complaint's Procedure

Our complaints procedure is simple to understand and use it is impartial and is non-adversarial. It enables a full and fair investigation and respects confidentiality. It will address all the points at issue and provides an effective response and appropriate redress. It provides information to SMT and Monitoring Committee so that services can be improved.

We ask the complainant at the earliest stage what they think might resolve the issue – an acknowledgement that the school could have handled the situation better is not the same as an admission of unlawful or negligent action.

We advise the complainant of any escalation options at each stage of the procedure – for example, when communicating the outcome of the stage 1 process, include the details of the stage 2 process. In line with Section 29(1)(b) of the Education Act 2002, we will publicise your complaints procedures on our website copies can be obtained from the office.

Complaints will be considered and resolved as quickly, and efficiently as possible. We will give realistic and reasonable time limits it will be realistic and reasonable time limits for each action within each stage. Where further investigations are necessary and the clear published timescales cannot be met, we will:

  • set new time limits
  • send the complainant details of the new deadline and explain the delay
  • allow a reasonable timeframe for complaints to be raised after an incident arises
  • We consider 3 months to be an acceptable time frame in which to lodge a complaint. Additional time can be given in exceptional circumstances.
  • You can include a cut-off time frame for:
  • raising a complaint
  • escalating a complaint

We will take exceptional circumstances into account when deciding whether to accept or progress a complaint.

Any decision made by a school, must also be made in line with the principles of administrative law.

This means a decision is:

  • lawful – it complies with education and other law, including human rights and equality law, such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010

we will ensure we are rational, reasonable, fair and proportionate in all our decision making.

Stages

First stage – informal

  • If you are concerned about your child’s education, you must first talk to your child’s teacher.
  • If you write to the school your complaint will be passed to the class teacher or a designated staff member to investigate.
  • You must allow at least five days for the designated staff member to respond.

Second stage – formal

  • If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage one, you must talk to the Headteacher
  • You can also write to the school, outlining your concerns and what you would like the school to do to help you with the matter.
  • The school will acknowledge your complaint within five days. You must allow at least 20 days for the designated person to investigate the problem and respond.

stage – formal

  • If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage two, you can complain to the Board of Directors
  • You will need to write to the chair of Directors and address the letter as care of the school. The letter must outline the reason(s) for your complaint and why you are still not happy.
  • The school will acknowledge your complaint within five days. You must allow at least 20 days for the chairperson to investigate the problem and respond.

Fourth stage – formal

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage three, you can complain to the Independent review. This is the final stage.

  • You will need to write to the independent review to tell them why you are still unhappy.
  • The chair or vice chair will hold a meeting to hear the complaint.
  • The independent review will acknowledge your complaint within 10 days.

We will comply with our obligations under the Equality Act 2010. It’s common practice to ask for complaints to be made using a complaint form or in writing. However, complainants may have communication preferences due to:

  • disability
  • learning difficulties
  • difficulties using English

we will therefore allow alternative methods of contact. Below are some recommendations on how complaint information should be processed.

A complaint may be made:

  • in person, by telephone or in writing
  • by a third party acting on behalf of the complainant
  • You should make sure you have written consent from the complainant before disclosing information to a third party.

We will take brief notes to prevent any later challenge or disagreement over what was said, brief notes of meetings and telephone calls. These will be kept securely, encrypted where appropriate, copies of any written response will be added to the record, and we will be recording all meetings.

If there are communication difficulties, you may suggest using recording devices to ensure the complainant is able to access and review the discussions at a later point. All parties would need to agree in advance to being recorded.

Educate U is responsible for ensuring there is a fair and reasonable purpose for allowing complainants to record meetings and may need to consider the following statements.

  • how any decision to allow recordings may affect any third parties called to act as witnesses
  • how the impact and consequences on the individuals involved in the complaint in the event recordings are lost or leaked
  • to allow Audio or video evidence

Complainants should make sure they obtain informed consent from all parties present before recording conversations or meetings.

Unless exceptional circumstances apply, we’ll support the school who refuse to accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without informed consent of all parties being recorded. We recommend this is made clear in complaints procedures.

 

Recording complaint progress

We will:

  • record the progress of the complaint and the final outcome
  • determine who is responsible for these records and make sure the data is kept secure
  • As a school we are data controllers in our own right, governing bodies will decide for themselves how long they keep records, unless statutory regulations apply. For example, copies of attendance registers must be retained for 3 years.
  • Under the General Data Protection Regulations (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR), data must not be kept longer than is necessary.
  • Complainants may have a right to copies of these records under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR. In this instance we would take advise from our legal advisors.

Independent review

We’re confident that Monitoring Committee will deal with complaints impartially. However, details of complaints should not be shared at any stage while they are still being considered, in case a complaints committee needs to be organised.

Handling complaints fairly

We will ensure that complainants are treated fairly and offered a chance to state their case either in person or in writing, at each stage of the procedure.

Complainants can request an independent complaints committee if they believe there is likely to be bias in the proceedings. They should provide the Headteacher with evidence of bias in support of their request. We will make every effort to make the process fair and just.

When we have made reasonable attempts to accommodate complainants with dates for complaint meetings and they refuse or are unable to attend, we will:

  • convene meetings in their absence
  • reach a conclusion in the interests of drawing the complaint to a close
  • Communicating the outcome

We will inform the complainant of:

  • the conclusion and reasons for any decisions in writing
  • any further rights of appeal

Copies of the minutes are issued to the complainant.

 

Reviewing your procedure

We will review this policy yearly to ensure that all legislative changes and new guidance are included.

Bias in the proceedings

We will ensure that all meetings are fair any persons who have a conflict of interest will not take part in the complaints process, including proceedings independent meetings and committees. If there’s any reasonable doubt as to a person’s ability to act impartially, they should withdraw from considering the complaint. Where a committee member has a financial interest in any related matter, they should also withdraw.

When making a decision we will not act with any bias we will follow the principle that

  • justice must not only be done but be seen to be done.

Whistleblowing

We have an internal whistleblowing procedure for our employees, including temporary staff and contractors.

All safeguarding concerns will implement the safeguarding policy and procedures.

 

Complainant who remain dissatisfied

Educate U will always do their best to be helpful to people who contact us with a complaint or concern or request for information.  However, there will be occasions when, despite all stages of the complaint procedure having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied.

when a complainant tries to re-open the same issue, we will inform them that the procedure has been completed and that the matter is now closed.

If the complainant contacts us again on the same issue, the correspondence may then be viewed as ‘serial’ or ‘persistent’.  Educate U would Under not marked a complaint as ‘serial’ for exercising their right to refer their complaint to their MP, regardless of which stage the complaint has reached.

We will as a company record when to stop responding. The decision to stop responding will not be taken lightly. This will happen when we are able to say yes to the following.

  • We have taken every reasonable step to address the complainant’s concerns
  • the complainant has been given a clear statement of your position and their options
  • the complainant contacts you repeatedly, making substantially the same points each time
  • The case to stop responding is stronger if you agree with one or more of these statements:
  • their letters, emails, or telephone calls are often or always abusive or aggressive
  • they make insulting personal comments about or threats towards staff
  • you have reason to believe the individual is contacting you with the intention of causing disruption or inconvenience

You should not stop responding just because an individual is difficult to deal with or asks complex questions.

Communication strategy for persistent correspondents

If an individual’s behaviour is causing a significant level of disruption, regardless of whether they have raised a complaint, the school can implement a tailored communication strategy. For example, they can:

  • restrict the individual to a single point of contact via an email address.
  • limit the number of times they can make contact, such as a fixed number of contacts per term.
  • However, regardless of the application of any communication strategy, you must provide parents and carers with the information they are entitled to under The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, within the statutory time frame.

Educate U will make sure that we have acted reasonably and consider any new complaint. We recognise that anyone has the right to raise a new complaint at any time and failure to respond could result in the school failing to act reasonably.