School complaints procedure

St Charles’ RC Primary School aims to provide an excellent level of education and care for the children and families that it serves, with Jesus at the heart of everything we do. We welcome feedback about our successes and strengths, and also about those aspects of our work that are less successful. We try to serve as efficiently and as courteously as possible, but acknowledge that there are occasions when we fall short of the standards that are expected. We welcome comments and complaints as an opportunity to improve the quality of our provision.

If you feel that there has been a problem in the way that you or your child have been treated by St Charles’, or you are unhappy about the general standards provided, then you can make a complaint. This document explains how to do this, and the procedure for making sure that complaints are dealt with in a fair and consistent way. Please note that the school will not investigate complaints made anonymously.

Special procedures are available for complaints about the school failing to meet National Curriculum requirements, a child’s special educational needs, or a decision to exclude a child from school. Details of these procedures are available from school. The Children’s Services Department of Newcastle City Council has a complaints policy and procedures which relates to the services provided directly by the council.

The vast majority of concerns can be dealt with quickly and easily without the need to register a formal complaint. You may need clarification from school staff about particular issues, or have concerns which you wish to discuss. We aim to respond to queries quickly and to give an appropriate response. This avoids the need for time consuming and complicated procedures in all but exceptional circumstances. We believe that open and honest communication between home and school helps us to achieve success for every child that we work with.

At all times school leaders will:

  • Enable a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary
  • Respect people’s desire for confidentiality
  • Address all the points at issue and provide effective responses and appropriate redress, where necessary
  • Provide information so that services can be improved

Timeliness

Whilst we recognise that complaints need to be considered and resolved as quickly as efficiently as possible, we also recognise how 'individual' a complaint is. Throughout the stages below we will:

  • Set realistic and reasonable time limits for each action within each stage (where further investigations are necessary, set new time limits, send the complainant details of the new deadline and give an explanation for the delay);
  • Understand that the school does not consider excessive time limits to be reasonable or acceptable, except for extenuating circumstances;
  • Expect complaints to be made as soon as possible after an incident arises.

Raise your complaint

Stage 1

Any concern or complaint should be discussed, in the first instance, with the relevant member of staff. This will usually be your child’s class teacher, although it could be another member of staff such as the Deputy Head Teacher or Key Stage leader. Staff can be contacted by telephone, email (through school office), in writing or in person. Teaching staff usually have a teaching commitment from 8.50am each morning so you may need to arrange to speak to them later in the day rather than at that time. If you feel that you have not been able to resolve your concern or complaint at this stage, then you may choose to move to stage 2 or stage 3.

If your complaint is about the Head Teacher please go directly to Stage 3.

Stage 2

If your concern or complaint has not been resolved informally, you can request a formal investigation by the Head Teacher, or by another senior member of staff if appropriate. You will need to explain what your complaint is about, and what action you would like school to take to put things right. The member of staff will then investigate the problem and let you know the outcome of their investigation within five working days of receiving your request. If you are still not satisfied with the outcome you may choose to go to stage 3.

A record is kept of stage 2 concerns and complaints. This includes details of the complaint and the outcome of the investigation.  The Governing Body receives a report on the number and general nature of stage 2 complaints received each term, although the details of each individual complaint remain confidential. This information is used by the Governing Body to inform discussions about how effectively the school operates and whether there are ways in which the quality of provision can be improved.  

Stage 3

If your concern or complaint has not been resolved you may ask the matter to be referred to the Governing Body. The Chair of Governors will then investigate the problem and let you know the outcome of their investigation within ten working days of receiving your request. If you are still not satisfied with the outcome you may choose to go to stage 4.

A record is kept of stage 2 and stage 3. This includes details of the complaint and the outcome of the investigation.  The Governing Body receives a report on the number and general nature of stage 2 and stage 3 complaints received each term, although the details of each individual complaint remain confidential. This information is used by the Governing Body to inform discussions about how effectively the school operates and whether there are ways in which the quality of provision can be improved. 

Stage 4

The final stage is to make a request for an investigation by the Complaints Appeals Committee of the school’s Governing Body. This Committee is made up of a number of school Governors, none of whom are employed by the school. Its role is to conduct an independent review of the complaint, not to rubber stamp previous decisions.

You can register a complaint with the Governing Body by completing the attached form. The form can be handed in to the school office or sent in the post. It should be addressed to the Clerk to the Governing Body and marked ‘Confidential’.

You will receive a written acknowledgement of your complaint within two working days of it being received by the Chair of Governors.

Your complaint will be checked first of all, to make sure that it can be dealt with. If it can not be dealt with then you will be sent a letter explaining the reasons.

After it has been established that the complaint can be heard, you will be provided with a set of the procedures. These procedures include a meeting of the committee, where you will be able to explain your complaint and present any evidence.

After the Complaints Appeals Committee has taken place you will receive a written report setting out the committee’s decision regarding your complaint, together with any action proposed to remedy the situation. You will receive this report within 28 days of your complaint being received by the Chair of Governors.

The procedure outlined in paragraph two of Stage 2 above is also followed for Stage 3 complaints.

Resolving Complaints

The process of resolving the complaint will usually include identifying areas of agreement between the parties, and clarifying any misunderstandings that might have occurred.

Other possible outcomes may include one or more of the following:

  •          an acknowledgement that the complaint is justified;
  •          an apology;
  •          an explanation;
  •          an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better;
  •          an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
  •          an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen           again;
  •          an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint; 
  •          dismissal of the complaint in whole or in part.

An admission that the school could have handled the situation better is not the same as an admission of negligence.

There may be occasions when, despite all stages of the procedures having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied.  If the complainant tries to reopen the same issue, the Chair of the Governing Body will inform them in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the school considers the matter to be closed. 

T. 0191 285 2553 E. admin@stcharles.newcastle.sch.uk A.Regent Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 3HE