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Further Information

Complaints about Schools & Education: Advice for Parents

Leicestershire’s schools aim to create good relationships with parents and the local community. All schools want to improve and are pleased to receive comments on the service which they provide for children. Parents and other members of the local community often compliment schools; at other times they may want to bring to the school’s attention a concern about a specific matter.
The following information explains the processes whereby you can make your views heard. The processes exist so that your rights as a parent, your children’s rights as pupils and the rights of school staff and governors are all dealt with fairly. These processes are also there for members of the public. Fortunately, complaints are usually resolved informally and it is unusual for the formal complaints processes to be used.

The role of Leicestershire County Council

When a school complaint is made, the Council works in an impartial advisory role to both families and schools. The Council does not have the authority to make decisions on complaints, as schools have their own management structure and policies.
If the complaint is regarding an academy, the Council does not have any authority to investigate or deal with complaints. Please see below for further information.

The complaint process

Each school governing body is required to agree a process for parents and members of the public to follow in making a complaint. This will be based on guidance from the Department for Education but may vary from school to school. Each stage has to be exhausted before the complaint is escalated further.

What is the school responsible for?

The school is responsible for resolving complaints within a reasonable time allowing for school holiday periods. The school has a duty to have a school complaint procedure in place and will also have various policies in force which may relate to a particular issue raised in a complaint. These procedures and policies should be made available upon request as they will make the potential complainant aware of timings etc. in the handling of a complaint.
As well as the school making a copy of its complaints policy available it should also make available a copy of any policy to which the potential complaint relates e.g. bullying policy.
A typical school complaints procedure has four stages.

Steps to Take

Step 1

The first step is to try and resolve the problem informally with the school. Refer the matter in the first instance to the class teacher or supervisor unless it relates to a whole school issue. This will often generate an immediate or early response which will resolve the concern.

Step 2

If you have concerns about a whole school issue or about something which has happened at your child's school or a school in your community which has not been resolved by Step 1 the Headteacher or Principal of the school or college will need to know.
Unless the matter is extremely urgent, it is helpful to give details in writing or ask for an appointment to discuss the problem. This gives the Headteacher or Principal time to make enquiries and consider any appropriate remedies. Most complaints can be dealt with at this level. In a larger school it may be appropriate to contact the year head or a deputy or assistant principal.
It is advisable to be clear about what the concern is and how the school could assist you in this matter.

Step 3

If matters have not been resolved, the next step is usually to write down details of your complaint and send these to the Chair of Governors of the school or college. Correspondence for the Chair can be forwarded via the school or college or sent to the Governor Development Service, Children and Young People's Service (address in the Contacts Section) who are able to forward any correspondence to the Chair’s home address.
You should expect to receive an acknowledgement of your correspondence from the Chair of Governors and they should be able to resolve the complaint either by telephone, in writing or by arranging a meeting.

Step 4

If, after the Chair of Governors has investigated your complaint, you are still not satisfied, then you can ask the Chair to call together a Governors’ Complaints Panel. This panel is made up of governors who have no previous knowledge of the complaint. It will hear all the facts and make a decision about the complaint.
The aim of the panel is to impartially resolve the complaint and the panel may invite the complainant and other interested parties to meet the panel. This is at the discretion of the panel. All parties will be notified of the decision of the panel in writing. The governors' complaints panel is the last school based stage of the complaint process.

Secretary of State

If you feel that the procedures followed in dealing with your complaint against a school or college were incorrect, you can ask the Secretary of State for Education to investigate the way in which your complaint was handled.
The Secretary of State will not intervene or make a decision on the nature of the complaint or the decision outcome; he/she will look to ensure that the school’s governing body followed their own rules and policies and may ask the school to revisit the complaint.

When can OFSTED get involved?

OFSTED do not look at complaints unless the school complaints process has been fully explored. OFSTED do not normally investigate individual complaints, however they do try to provide support regarding complaints. OFSTED may log your complaint and look into it in a general way when it next inspects the school.
If your complaint is regarding the whole school, OFSTED can investigate. For example
  • Management of school resources
  • Standard of education children received
  • The leadership of the school
Examples include complaints relating to:
  • admission procedures (for voluntary aided and foundation schools)
  • Exclusions policy
  • providing education for pupils with special educational needs
  • religious education or the religious character of a school, or
  • temporary changes to the curriculum.
OFSTED are not in a position to:
  • investigate incidents that are alleged to have taken place
  • judge how well a school investigated or responded to a complaint, or
  • mediate between a parent and a school to resolve a dispute.
For further information please see OFSTED website

What if my child has a special educational need or is disabled?

Complaints that concern a child with special educational needs (SEN) will be handled by the specialist SEN team.  Usually, this would involve first discussing the concern informally with the class teacher and SENCO.
If the concern remains you will have to follow the school complaints procedure as described above. You can ask to see a copy of the school’s special educational needs policy.
The SEND Information Advice & Support Service can offer support to parents regarding special educational needs.
In some cases the Local Government Ombudsman can help with special education needs complaints however the Ombudsman will only consider complaints if the child or young person has a statement of education.
Further guidance has been made available by the Department for Education

What if my child attends an Academy school?

Parents/carers who have a complaint about their child’s Academy school will need to contact the Academy directly. Academy schools are independent of the Council and the Council has no authority to investigate complaints. All Academy schools should have a complaints procedure and parents/carers are advised to request a copy of the procedure.
In summary, the route for academy complaints is;
1. To the appropriate staff member or Head teacher
2. Contact the Academy Trust (this should be set out in the academies’ complaint procedure)
3. Contact the Department for Education
If your complaint is regarding standards of education you should contact the Academy in the first instance then contact OFSTED. (Please note, OFSTED will not usually look at complaints until the schools complaint procedure is fully explored.)
More information on academies and what schools are academies in Leicestershire

What if my child attends a faith school?

If your child attends a voluntary aided Church of England School the complaint process is as above and would have to be followed. The Diocesan Director of Education for Leicester role is to ensure the Church of England school has followed its own procedures; the Diocese does not provide a formal process for complaints or appeals.
If your child attends a Catholic school, again, the school complaints process as stated above  would have to be followed. If you have fully exhausted the process you can contact the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham which covers Leicestershire, however this is not a formal route for a complaints or appeals.

I want to remove my child from religious or sex education?

Complaints regarding;
  • Provision of curriculum, including religious education, collective worship and sex education. For more information on removing your child from sex education, please see the SRE & Parents leaflet provided by the Department of Education. If religious education, please see below.
  • The establishment of a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) and the review of an agreed syllabus for religious education required by the SACRE and dis-application of the requirement for schools to hold an act of worship of a broadly Christian nature.
For any complaints regarding religious or sex education please contact the Department for Education on

Complaints about Further Education (FE) & Community colleges

Definitions of learning providers

Further Education Colleges
A college of further education is a learning establishment which offers both vocational and academic courses for young people and adults from 16 years old upwards.
Apprenticeship Providers
Apprenticeship learning providers are either private training organisations or colleges of further education that are approved to offer a nationally recognised apprenticeship programme in a number of work areas.
Independent Specialist Providers
Independent Specialist Providers deliver learning for those individuals who cannot progress their education locally due to a learning difficulty or disability.
Complaints procedures
Where a parent, carer or young person is unhappy with the learning provision or the support received at a Further Education College, Apprenticeship learning provider or Specialist College in Leicester or Leicestershire, the young person or parent/carer should follow the learning providers’ published complaints procedure in the first instance.
If after working through this process the complaint is not resolved, details of the complaint should be forwarded in writing to the following address for FE Colleges and apprenticeship providers who will investigate the process undertaken ;-
Skills Funding Agency
Cheylesmore House
Quinton Road
Telephone: 0845 377 5000
Complaints concerning the following areas will be investigated :-
  • The quality or management of learning provision
  • Undue delay or non-compliance with published procedures
  • Poor administration by the Provider
  • Equality and diversity issues (except where there is a more appropriate mechanism for dealing with the matter through the court or tribunals orother organisations);
  • Health and safety concerns (unless these are matters for the Health and Safety Executive);
  • Although Higher Education (HE) courses in Further Education (FE) colleges are not funded by the Chief Executive, it has been agreed that the Chief Executive will investigate complaints made by learners

Complaints about a Youth Activity or Service

If you have a comment, concern or complaint regarding a Youth activity or service, please contact the responsible youth worker who is running the activity. He/she, in the first instance, may be able to deal with your concerns directly. If you are unsatisfied with this response, the Youth Service will try to help you with your enquiry and provide any reasonable solutions. Please ask for a Duty Manager on 0116 305 7960 or alternatively you can email the service at
If after contacting the Youth Service you feel that your enquiry has not been resolved, you will need to follow the C&FS Complaints process
Youth Service home page

Complaints about Childcare and Nursery Education Providers

Sometimes parents and other people with an interest in childcare have complaints or concerns about the quality of a Nursery Education within a Private, Voluntary or Independent Childcare provision.
The Complaints and Concerns about Childcare web page covers the complaints procedures for a range of different types of complaint.

Further Information

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Page Last Updated: 17 February 2015