Stage one : complaint heard by staff member
It is in everyone’s interest that complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. The experience of the first contact between the complainant and the school can be crucial in determining whether the complaint will escalate.
The school will respect the views of a complainant who indicates that he/she would have difficulty discussing a complaint with a particular member of staff. In these cases, the complaints co-ordinator can refer the complainant to another staff member. Where the complaint concerns the Headteacher, the complaints co-ordinator will refer the complainant to the Chair of Governors.
Similarly, if the member of staff directly involved feels too compromised to deal with a complaint, the complaints co-ordinator may consider referring the complainant to another staff member. The member of staff may be more senior but does not have to be. The ability to consider the complaint objectively and impartially is crucial.
Where the first approach is made to a governor, the next step would be to refer the complainant to the appropriate person in school and advise them about the procedure. It would be useful if governors did not act unilaterally on an individual complaint outside the formal procedure or be involved at the early stages in case they are needed to sit on a panel at a later stage of the procedure.
Stage Two: Complaint Heard by Headteacher (within 15 school days)
The complaint progresses to Stage Two if the complainant is dissatisfied with the way the complaint was handled at Stage One, or the response that was received. The Head will investigate the complaint further and collate any relevant information. The Headteacher should respond to this stage of the complaint in detail and in writing.
Stage Three: Complaint Heard by the Complaints Appeal Committee of the Governing Bodies (within 15 school days)
If the complainant is not satisfied with the Headteacher’s response, the complainant needs to write to the Chair of Governors c/o the school or the Clerk to the Governing Body c/o School and Governor Support Service, County Hall Durham, DH15UJ, giving details of the complaint. The Chair, will contact the Clerk to the Governing Body who will convene a GB Complaints Appeal Committee. The complainant and/or their representative will be invited to attend.
The governors’ appeal hearing is the last school-based stage of the complaints process, and is not convened to merely rubber-stamp previous decisions.
|The remit of The Complaints Appeal Committee
The committee can:-
* dismiss the complain in whole or in part;
* uphold the complaint in whole or in part;
* decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint;
* recommend changes to the school's systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur.
It is important that the appeal hearing is indepdent and impartial and that it is seen to be so. No governor may sit on the panel if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or in the circumstances surrounding it.
The aim of the hearing,which needs to be held in private, will always be to resolve the complain and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant. However, it has to be recognised the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the hearing does not find in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations which will satisfy the complainant that his or her complaint has been taken seriously.
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