All Southwark schools want their pupils to do well and be happy. They recognise that parents and carers play an important part in making this happen. Therefore, schools aim to provide as many opportunities to inform and involve parents in their child’s progress as they possibly can. Regular reports, open days and visits all help. Questions and concerns are usually dealt with quickly and helpfully.
Occasionally things go wrong – concerns continue or differences of opinion develop. These can usually be resolved by speaking to the right person. Most concerns can be settled without too much trouble, but whatever the issue, even where you are seriously concerned about your child’s future at the school, it’s always important to try to find an answer. Disruption to a child’s education would be the most damaging result of all.
If you have a complaint about something that has happened at school, please take a few minutes to read this page first.
What actually happened?
Remember there is often more than one view about an incident or situation. For example, your child may well be telling the truth but it may not be the whole story.
What do you hope will happen as a result of your complaint?
It might help to talk this through with a friend or relative. When you make a complaint, remember that although you want to change a situation, you want it to end on a positive note with no bad feelings. So try to follow the procedures carefully and not put yourself or anyone else into a corner.
Making the complaint
When you are clear in your own mind as to what you believe has happened, speak to someone at the school. Although some schools, particularly for younger children, can see parents/carers who ‘pop in’, this is not generally possible. It is always best to pre-arrange an appointment with the headteacher where you can sit and talk things through calmly and without interruption. Investigating complaints takes time and the answers aren’t always readily available, but you will at least be able to decide whether the action taken, or not taken, was reasonable and whether any further steps would solve the problem.
Alternatively, write to the headteacher with details of your complaint. The school should acknowledge your letter within five days, followed by a fuller reply within ten days.
If you are still unhappy
In most cases, the problem will have been solved by this stage. However, if you are still unhappy, contact the chair of governors. The school will tell you how to contact this person. The chair of governors may help to resolve the problem informally, possibly by arranging a meeting between those involved. Once again you’ll have the opportunity to talk through your concerns with an independent party who is there to listen and to discuss what is being said.
If you are still not satisfied with the answer you can ask to make a formal complaint to the governing body.
Complaints to the governing body
This is a serious step. It is important that you have thought things through carefully and that every possible attempt has been made to solve your concerns by other means. Normally, a panel of governors will be called to hear your case and all sides will be asked to submit a written statement. You will also be invited to attend any hearing, to present your side of the story. The decision of the governors’ panel will then be sent in writing to all parties.
If you are still unhappy
If, after the governors have dealt with your complaint, you are still unhappy with their decision, you may contact Southwark Education (details below) for advice on what to do next. For example, if you feel that the governing body has acted unreasonably you can consider complaining to the Local Government Ombudsmen enquiries.Coventry@log.org.uk or Tel: 02476 820000.
Education complaints, Southwark Education, PO Box 64529, SE1P 5LX