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Education - Complaints and Feedback

Early Years – Pre-school and nursery provision

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework requires all registered child care providers to have a complaints procedure in place.

For a childcare provider that is registered with Ofsted, concerns should be raised directly with the manager or provider in the first instance. For complaints raised in writing, the provider must respond within 28 days.

Where early childcare provision is run by a school, the school’s complaints procedure should be used.

Local Authority Maintained Schools (Mainstream and Special)

Governing bodies of all maintained schools are required under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002 to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school and to any community facilities or services that it provides. You should ask for a copy of the complaints procedure from your school.

The Department for Education has a model School Complaints Procedure which can be seen at;

School complaints procedures

Whilst not all school complaints procedures will follow this exactly, it sets out the general principles of good complaints handling.

It is in everyone’s interest to resolve complaints at the earliest possible stage.

  • Initially you should raise your complaint with the relevant teaching staff.
  • If you remain dissatisfied, you should put your complaint in writing to the Head Teacher.
  • If you complaint is about the Head Teacher, you should put your complaint in writing to the Chair of Governors.
  • The school’s complaints procedure will guide you as to the process and timescales to be followed.

Escalating a complaint:

If you are dissatisfied with the school’s response and where you believe that the Governing Body is acting, or is proposing to act unreasonably, you can refer the matter to the Secretary of State. Unreasonableness has been defined by the Courts as acting in a way in which no reasonable body would have acted in the circumstances.  It is a legal test which goes well beyond the day to day understanding of what might be considered reasonable.

The Secretary of State can also consider complaints in relation to an alleged breach of statutory duty, for example about disability discrimination in relation to a pupil at a school.

You can find more information about making a complaint to the Secretary of State at: 

Department for Education complaints

Academies, Free Schools or Independent Schools

Academies, Free schools and Independent Schools under the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 must ensure that a written complaints procedure is made available to parents.

This procedure must allow:

  • An opportunity to resolve the complaint on an informal basis through discussion
  • A formal stage when the complaint is made in writing and usually responded to by the Chair of Governors
  • A hearing panel set up by the school, comprising of at least three people not directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint, one of whom must be independent of the management and running of the school
  • Parents must be allowed to attend the panel and be accompanied if they wish.

Escalating a complaint:

In the case of Academies and Free schools, a referral can be made to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. The EFA will look at complaints that fall into the following:

  • Undue delay or non-compliance with the school’s own complaints procedure
  • A failure to comply with a duty imposed on it under its funding agreement with the Secretary of State
  • A failure to comply with any legal obligation, unless there is another organisation better placed to consider the matter.

In the case of Independent Schools, a referral can be made directly to the Secretary of State.

You can find out more about making a complaint to the EFA at:

Procedure for dealing with complaints about academies

Additionally Resourced Centres/Provision

Complaints about an Additionally Resourced Centres/Provision (ARC/ARP) is dependent upon the type of school the ARC/ARP is located in and will follow the process as outlined above.

Making a complaint about a Post 16 institution

Complaints about Further Education Colleges can be made by:

  • Informally raising the issue with the teacher or Principal
  • Through the college’s formal complaints procedure
  • Escalation is to the EFA

You can find information about how to make a complaint about a post 16 institution at:

How to complainabout post-16 EFA funded institutions

Complaints to Ofsted

Ofsted can consider complaints from parents and carers about Early Years providers and schools in relation to the school as a whole rather than in relation to an individual child and where the complainant has already tried to resolve the matter through the relevant complaints procedure.

Examples where complaints might relate to the school, as a whole include:

  • The school not providing a satisfactory education
  • The pupils not achieving as much as they should, or their different needs not being met
  • The school not being well led and managed, or wasting money
  • The pupils’ personal development and wellbeing being neglected

Ofsted can respond to a complaint that relates to the whole school by bringing forward an Inspection, or it could decide to look at matters when next inspecting the school.

Further information and guidance to parents about making a complaint to OFSTED can be found at:

Complain about a school or childminder

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