There may be times when, as parents, you will have cause to complain about issues that arise at your child's school. There are a number of reasons why this may happen from bullying to the standard of education being delivered. As parents you have the right to submit a complaint and all schools must have a written complaints procedure that is made readily available to parents upon request. However, there are different procedures to follow depending on the type of school.
In the first instance it is important to try and resolve matters internally as parents are often looking for practical solutions to their problems. Failing a resolution at the first stage, parents are encouraged to diligently follow the complaints procedure which requires you to set out your complaint in writing. If the school fails to deal with your concerns internally and you feel that the Board of Governors and/or the Local Authority have acted unreasonably, you can escalate the matter to the Secretary of State. This is only relevant for schools that are not Academies. If the school is an Academy and you have exhausted the internal procedures, the matter can be escalated to the Education Funding Agency.
Complaining to Ofsted
Parents can also complain to Ofsted about an issue which is likely to affect the whole school rather than an isolated issue affecting their child. This could include issues with the quality of education or poor management at the school. Ofsted will, however, expect you to have exhausted the internal complaints procedures first, including writing to the Secretary of State where applicable. Ofsted will only consider a “whole school” issue if, for example, it could lead to an inspection of the school.
Complaining to Independent Schools
For independent schools, you should request a copy of the complaint procedures and write to the school first. If you remain dissatisfied with the response received, you can pursue your complaint in writing to the Independent and Boarding Team at the Department for Education.
Post 16 Provision
For post 16 provision, parents should write to the institution itself first. If you remain dissatisfied, you can write to The Skills Funding Agency.
Local Government Ombudsman
The Local Government Ombudsman can no longer investigate complaints about the management of the school (from 31 July 2012) but can still investigate a number of school related issues such as school transport, admissions and allocations, exclusions, some aspects of Special Educational Needs and complaints about tuition at home.
The team at Match Solicitors have assisted many parents through internal complaints procedures.
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“ I found the overall service extremely professional, knowledgeable, efficient and sensitive with regard to my matter. I felt Match always kept me informed and abreast of procedures with legal explanation wherever necessary. arose I would have no hesitation in approaching Match again and would have pleasure in recommending their services to anyone in need of professional educational assistance. ”
“ Match Solicitors were highly recommended to us not only for their undisputed comprehensive knowledge of the SEN legal minefield, but for their understanding of autism and other disorders and consequent compassionate work ethic. Their diligence and consummate professionalism ensured that the Local Authority were forced to take our son’s case seriously. It is almost impossible to articulate how grateful we are to Rishi and Anita for their hard work and dedication. ”
“ The service was first class and I was encouraged by the Solicitors sound knowledge of education law. Having a child with special needs is a challenge to any parent and the whole process of going to an educational tribunal can be quite daunting. Match Solicitors was able to get the job done professionally and to the highest standard and yet still retaining a very caring and human side which was very reassuring. ”