At St. Saviour's and St. Olave's School we work closely with parents recognising the importance this has upon pupil achievement. We are always available to discuss concerns. Where possible, concerns will be resolved immediately. When this has not been possible complaints should be referred directly to the Headteacher. In the rare event that the Headteacher is unable to resolve a complaint the matter will be passed to the governing body who will follow the complaints procedure, a copy of which is available from the Clerk to the Governors.
RECEIVING A COMPLAINT
A complaint can be received by any member of staff from the school and can be oral or written, which will be passed to the relevant member of staff, probably a senior member of staff. If the complaint cannot be resolved immediately, then it may be necessary to apply stage 1 and 2 of this procedure.
The Headteacher will be made aware of any complaint that cannot be immediately resolved once it has been received. Any oral complaint should be summarised in writing by the member of staff who receives it, and should include the name and address of the complainant.
DEALING WITH THE COMPLAINT
We recommend that complaints received by schools should be dealt with in the first instance by senior staff (stage 1) and then referred to the Governing Body of the school stage 2 if the complainant remains dissatisfied.
1. Complaints dealt with by the Headteacher or her representative (Stage 1)
1.1 The written complaint or written summary of the complaint should be promptly referred to the Headteacher or appropriate person.
1.2 The Headteacher will decide whether to delegate the investigation of the complaint to another member of staff or whether to undertake the investigation herself.
1.3 In exceptional circumstances, such as an incident which could or has resulted in personal injury, the Headteacher must be informed immediately and may consider referring the matter for investigation direct to representatives of the Governing Body of the school. In cases of a serious complaint against the Headteacher, it may be appropriate for the Chair of Governors to seek further guidance from the SDBE.
1.4 The person investigating the complaint should ensure that a written or oral acknowledgement is provided to the complainant within 5 working days of receiving the complaint. The acknowledgement will give a brief explanation of the school's complaints procedure and will give a target date for providing a response to the complaint which should normally be within 10 working days.
1.5 The person investigating the complaint should seek to speak or meet with all appropriate people in order to establish all facts relating to the complaint. This includes the complainant, staff and any other person.
1.6 Once all the relevant facts have been established the person investigating the complaint will, or may wish to meet the complainant to discuss/resolve the matter directly or produce a written ·response to the complaint.
1.7 A written response should contain an outline of the complaint and a summary of the response to the complaint, including the decision reached and the reasons for it. Where appropriate, this should also include what action the school will take to resolve the complaint. This letter or report must be endorsed by the Headteacher. It should also inform the complainant that should he/ she wish the complaint to progress to Stage 2 of this procedure then he/ she should send a written request stating this to the Headteacher within 10 working days of receiving the response.
1.8 If no further communication is received from the complainant within 10 working days, it should be assumed that the complaint has been resolved and should subsequently be laid to rest.
2. Complaints referred to the Governing Body (Stage 2)
2.1 Upon receipt of a written request by the complainant for the complaint to proceed to stage 2 (i.e. the Governing Body hearing), the procedures outlined below should be followed.
2.2 The Clerk to Governors should write to the complainant to acknowledge receipt of the written request for the complaint to be heard by representatives of the Governing Body. The acknowledgement must be sent within 5 working days and should also inform the complainant that the complaint is to be heard by representatives of the school's Governing Body within 20 working days of receiving the complaint. The letter should also explain that the complainant has the right to submit any further documents relevant to the complaint These must be received at least 5 working days before the date of the hearing to allow adequate time for the documents to be circulated to the representatives.
2.3 The Clerk to the Governors should request that the Chair convenes a Governors'
Complaints Panel (GCP).
2.4 The Chair/Vice-Chair will ensure that the complaint is heard by the panel within 20 working days of receiving the letter outlined in paragraph 2.1. All relevant correspondence regarding the complaint should be distributed to each panel member as soon as the composition of the panel is confirmed.
2.5 The Chair/Vice-Chair will write and inform the complainant, Headteacher any relevant witnesses, and members of the GCP at least 5 working days in advance, of the date, time and place of the meeting. The notification to the complainant should also inform him/her of the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend/ advocate/interpreter. The letter will also explain how the meeting will be conducted and the complainant's right to submit further written evidence to the panel.
2.6 The Chair/Vice-Chair of the Governing Body should invite the Headteacher to speak to the panel and/or prepare a written report for the GCP in response to the complaint. If the Headteacher prepares a written report, a copy of this report should be sent to the complainant at least 5 working days before the date of the meeting. The Headteacher may also invite members of staff directly involved in matters raised by the complainant to respond in writing or in person to the complaint. Any relevant documents relating to the complaint should be received at least 5 working days prior to the hearing.
3. Hearing the Complaint at the Meeting
3.1 The aim of the meeting should be to resolve the complaint and achieve a reconciliation between the school and the complainant.
3.2 In the interest of natural justice, the introduction of previously undisclosed evidence or witnesses would be a reason to adjourn the meeting so that the other side has time to consider and respond to the new evidence.
3.3 The recommended conduct of the meeting is as follows:
(i) The Chair of the panel will welcome the complainant, introduce the panel members and explain the procedure.
(ii) The Chair of the panel will invite the complainant or advocate to explain the complaint.
(iii) The GCP may question the complainant about the complaint and the reasons why it has been made.
(iv) The Headteacher will be invited by the Chair of the panel to question the complainant about the complaint and why it has been made.
(v) The Chair of the panel will invite the Headteacher to make a statement in response to the complaint. At the discretion of the Chair of the panel, the Headteacher may invite members of staff directly involved in the complaint to supplement her response.
(vi) The GCP may question the Headteacher and/ or members of staff about the response to the complaint.
(vii) The Chair of the panel will invite the complainant to question the Headteacher and/ or members of staff about the response to the complaint.
(viii) Any party has the right to call witnesses, subject to prior approval of the GCP.
(ix) The GCP, the Headteacher and the complainant have the right to question any such witnesses.
(x) The Headteacher will be invited by the Chair of the panel to make a final statement.
(xi) The complainant will be invited by the Chair of the panel to make a final statement.
(xii) The Chair of the panel will explain to the complainant and the Headteacher that the decision of the panel will now be considered and a written decision will be sent to both parties within 10 working days. The Chair of the panel will then ask all parties to leave except for members of the GCP.
(xiii) The GCP will then consider the com plaint and all the evidence presented and:
(a) Reach a decision on the complaint and the reasons for it.
(b) Decide upon the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint.
(c)Where appropriate suggest recommended changes to the schools' systems or procedures to ensure complaints of a similar nature are not made in the future.
3.4 The minutes of the meeting will be recorded and kept on file.
3.5 A written statement outlining the decision of the GCP must be sent to the complainant and Headteacher. The statement sent to the complainant must explain that the decision of the GCP is final.
3.6 The school must ensure a copy of all correspondence and notes are kept on file in the school's records.